RIVERSIDE (CBS) — UC Riverside will be studying various ideas about the afterlife, thanks to a $5 million grant from the John Templeton Foundation.

Researchers will be looking at a wide range of topics, like near-death experiences, Heaven, Hell, Purgatory, karma and how certain beliefs through time affects our behavior.

The “Immortality Project,” which is considered to be the largest study of its kind, hopes to sift fact from fiction by bringing scientists, theologians and philosophers together in hopes of finding answers.

“The sorts of questions we’ll be pursuing, I think are important ones…not just for academics, but for people all over the world who live their everyday lives, sometimes informed by beliefs about these things,” said UC Riverside’s Benjamin Mitchell-Yellin.

The belief in what happens after death varies with different cultures, religions and throughout generations.

“I’ve been brought up to believe that we all go to Heaven or Hell if we follow the books of the Bible and we follow the Commandments of the Bible,” said Quejonne Smith.

The afterlife is something Brandon McNulty has thought about.

“I’m a Christian, so Heaven is a destination I’d want to veer off to after I pass,” he said.

The results from the study should be available in about three years.

“Should we want to live longer? Potentially forever? Would it be a good thing to be immortal? These are the sorts of questions we’ll answer,” said Mitchell-Yellin.


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