Heavens on Earth – The Scientific Search for Afterlife
A scientific exploration into humanity’s obsession with the afterlife and quest for immortality from the bestselling author and skeptic Michael Shermer
In his most ambitious work yet, Shermer sets out to discover what drives humans’ belief in life after death, focusing on recent scientific attempts to achieve immortality by radical life extentionists, extropians, transhumanists, cryonicists, and mind-uploaders, along with utopians who have attempted to create heaven on earth. For millennia, religions have concocted numerous manifestations of heaven and the afterlife, the place where souls go after the death of the physical body. Religious leaders have toiled to make sense of this place that a surprising 74% of Americans believe exists, but from which no one has ever returned to report what it is really like.
Heavens on Earth concludes with an uplifting paean to purpose and progress and what we can do in the here-and-now, whether or not there is a hereafter.
About the Author
Dr. Michael Shermer is the publisher of Skeptic magazine, a monthly columnist for Scientific American, and a Presidential Fellow at Chapman University. He is the author of Why People Believe Weird Things, Why Darwin Matters, The Science of Good and Evil, and The Moral Arc.
PROLOGUE: Memento Mori
PART I: VARIETIES OF MORTAL EXPERIENCES AND IMMORTAL QUESTS
CHAPTER 1. A Lofty Thought: Imagining Mortality
CHAPTER 2. What Dreams May Come: Imagining Immortality
CHAPTER 3. Heavens Above: The Afterlives of the Monotheisms
PART II: THE SCIENTIFIC SEARCH FOR IMMORTALITY
CHAPTER 4. Heavens Within: The Afterlives of the Spiritual Seekers
CHAPTER 5. Evidence for the Afterlife: Near Death Experiences and Reincarnation
CHAPTER 6. Evidence for the Afterlife: Anomalous Psychological Experiences and Talking to the Dead
CHAPTER 7. Soul Stuff: Identity, Replication, and Resurrection
CHAPTER 8. Afterlife for Atheists: Can Science Defeat Death?
PART III: ALL OUR YESTERDAYS AND TOMORROWS
CHAPTER 9. All Our Yesterdays: Progress, Decline, and the Pull of Pessimism
CHAPTER 10. All Our Tomorrows: Utopias and Dystopias in Fiction and in Fact
PART IV: MORTALITY AND MEANING
CHAPTER 11. Why We Die: The Mortal Individual and the Immortal Species
CHAPTER 12. Imagine There’s No Heaven: Finding Meaning in a Meaningless Universe
Also by Michael Shermer
About the Author