Is Death Natural? Can We Extend Our Lives?

Death is as natural as birth. So say the large majority of people today. But is death natural? This question is for now merely academic but we could very well be on the cusp of technological advances that make it far more than an academic question.

Ray Kurzweil argues in his impressive books, The Fantastic Voyage and The Singularity Is Near, that the key now is to “live long enough to live forever.” His point is that our generation is the first that will be able to take advantage of new technologies and have a choice about living longer than the normal life span, possibly far longer. Kurzweil goes further in his follow up book Transcend and suggests that there will be three types of life extension made possible in coming decades: 1) medical techniques by the 2020s or so for slowing or even stopping aging; 2) some years later biological and medical techniques will appear that can turn back the clock to whatever age you want to be (biologically); 3) and even later we’ll see neuroscience techniques for uploading your consciousness into whatever form you want to take (robot, Internet, etc.).

Death certainly has been natural up until now. The large majority of creatures are born and live a life of finite duration, with that duration determined by how long their bodies can withstand inevitable breakdowns, predators or accidents. There are a few interesting exceptions. Hydras, for example, are small creatures related to sea anemones that live in freshwater. Hydras don’t die unless they’re eaten and stem cells seem to be involved in this unusual ability to keep on keeping on.

tambookHarvard’s medical school produced some very intriguing evidence in 2010 with an experiment that succeeded in reversing many signs of aging in lab mice by injecting telomerase, an enzyme that keeps the mice cells’ telomeres from degenerating, into their cells. Intact telomeres stop the chromosomes unraveling and this slows or stops cell death. The mice showed remarkable improvements from this treatment alone.

It’s not that simple, of course, because there are a great many ways for our bodies to go wrong, as is clear from reading Aubrey de Gray’s book, Ending Aging. So while telomerase treatments in humans will likely be part of rejuvenation techniques in years to come they won’t be the whole story.

Is It Unnatural To Extend Our Lives Through Technology?

I’ve been asking people for years now what they think about the potential to extend their lives with technology, or even to choose immortality if it’s a real option. I get varying answers but I often hear (from my mother, for example) that it just seems unnatural to extend our lives using technology.

I can see their point but I don’t think I agree with it. We do, of course, extend our lives with technology all the time. When we fight cancer or any illness with medical technology we are using arguably unnatural techniques. So what’s unnatural about using new medical procedures to extend life even further?

There is an entirely different argument, however, about the naturalness of life extension that relates to the nature of evolution. The conventional view of evolution is that there is no directionality, no necessary progress, in evolution. Darwin himself thought that there was but the modern view is that such views are misguided and perhaps chauvinist. The data, it seems to me, however, strongly support the view that evolution is progressive in some ways. Eric Chaisson’s book Cosmic Evolution supports this notion.

One very interesting directionality in evolution is what Teilhard de Chardin called “an ascent toward consciousness.” In fact, he defined evolution as an ascent toward consciousness in his book, The Human Phenomenon. The biological world does indeed seem to exhibit a clear trend toward expanded perceptive abilities and greater cognitive abilities. There are always exceptions that we can highlight. For example, bats and some moles have evolved away their eyes for the most part as a result of disuse. But the general trend is pretty undeniable: most types of creatures have evolved over time more ways to perceive the world and better ways to process and act on that information.

Accepting this fact we can look to broader evolutionary themes for some relevant insights about the naturalness (or not) of death. This argument may seem a stretch but bear with me here.

The success of evolutionary processes, at least in terms of producing adaptive novelty, depends on the succession of generations: birth, death, birth, death… This is the case because novelty is thought to appear only in new organisms at birth (setting aside epigenetic novelties for the moment). Natural selection is all about culling random novelties that don’t provide any advantage to the organisms at issue, through death or an inability to reproduce. Most random mutations are negatively adaptive in that they actually lead to worse performance in terms of obtaining food, or avoiding predation, or finding more mates, etc. And because the large majority of mutations are not beneficial, species need to have a lot of births and deaths in order to find those beneficial adaptations in the space of possible adaptations.

The Ascent Of Consciousness

This situation is changing, however, with the ascent of consciousness—recall that this was Teilhard de Chardin’s way of characterizing evolution more generally. Now that consciousness has reached the level of human consciousness, which is a step change in the nature of consciousness, to be sure, we are taking evolution into our own hands. Cultural evolution is now increasingly trumping biological evolution. Let me unpack this statement a bit.

Biological evolution works through the random mutations and natural selection already discussed (genetic drift and some other mechanisms also play a part but for present purposes focusing on natural selection alone is sufficient). The conventional view is that biological evolution is an entirely vertical process because acquired characteristics can’t be passed on to offspring. Lamarck is still reviled in conventional circles today because he believed that acquired characteristics could be passed on and that individual striving was in fact the primary force behind evolution. We now know, with the advent of epigenetics, that some evolutionary change is indeed Lamarckian because epigenetic changes can be acquired and passed on to offspring. For example, new research suggests that humans and chimps differ so remarkably, despite sharing 99 percent of their genes, due to epigenetic differences.

More generally, cultural evolution is uncontroversially Lamarckian. What I mean is that cultural evolution, which is all about ideas and the evolution of ideas, operates through acquisition of ideas by individuals and then the passing on of those ideas in slightly changed form to friends, co-workers and family. Language, for example, is a good example of cultural evolution. Languages are always changing, and we can look to the Oxford English Dictionary’s list of new words each year as proof positive of this phenomenon even in an era of written language.

Here’s the crux of my argument: because cultural evolution is now taking over from biological evolution in terms of the future of the human species we don’t need individuals to die anymore to ensure that evolutionary change continues. Rather, ideas can and do change in a Lamarckian manner and this happens horizontally (person to person) as well as vertically (parent to offspring). We individuals don’t need to die in order to keep evolving as a species. So if evolutionary change is the sine qua non of what is “natural,” we are now at the point where it may be more natural for individuals to stick around and be part of the play of ideas for far longer than is possible under our heretofore natural lifespans.

In other words, if humans are now characterized by our ideas as much or more than our physical forms then there’s no need anymore for our physical forms to undergo the same processes of birth and death if life is to keep ascending toward new forms of consciousness. We can individually evolve and continue that arc of evolution as individuals.

Whether we do in fact continue to evolve in such a manner is entirely our individual choice. But it would be nice, it seems to me, to at least have that choice. So I personally am looking forward to having more options in terms of extending my life beyond the 80 or so years we can normally expect. It should be a fun ride.

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  1. Why would you want to drive the same car forever? The act of living tears up the body. So why not trade it in for a newer model with all the latest features? Yes, I believe we live multiple lives in multiple bodies. So why would someone want to live forever in the same body? We are not a body that has a soul, we are a soul that has a body.

    1. Pete, do you have any evidence for that belief? I can’t rule out the existence of a soul but it seems very unlikely to me given the evidence and given everything we know about life and evolution.

      1. There has been quite a bit of research done in the field of past life memories in children. Knowledge of people they claim to have been that only that person could have known. These memories seem to fade by age 6 in these children. Some say these are just made-up stories from overactive imaginations but stories that are made up usually change over time while these stories stay constant and unwavering.

        1. This is far from the end of the story, but I’ve reviewed the best evidence available (Stevenson, et al.) and didn’t find it very convincing. In particular, check out Children Who Remember Past Lives. The best cases are presented and they certainly don’t prove reincarnation is going on. At best they show that there is some means of information transfer that transcends traditional physics. I’m the last to suggest that modern physics is complete (to the contrary, it’s far from complete) but we’re going to need a lot better data to convince scientific types like me that reincarnation is a real phenomenon. And beyond the data there are a ton of logical and parsimony objections that weigh against reincarnation.

          1. It seems like you have a problem with the word “reincarnation” as you seem to accept the possibility of “information transfer” and that seems to be saying the same thing. What else is a soul but a collective of our experiences in this and in past lives?

            I see the hypothesis of reincarnation as a sound one and because it explains many questions I have, it fits my framework of understanding.

          2. Here is the model I put my “faith” in. The Universe is striving to become consciously aware of itself. Humans are what the Universe has come up with to see itself, touch itself, tear itself apart and reorganize itself, in an attempt to understand itself. We are just biological avatars of the Universe and its evolving self awareness. So it is not about us as individuals growing consciously, it is about the Universe (God) growing consciously.

          3. Pete, I agree entirely with your second statement about the universe growing through us as we grow. But this weighs in favor of the view that we are conscious beings only when embodied. There is no consciousness without embodiment. So biological evolution is the evolution of mind as well as matter and we are the cutting edge of that process in this corner of the universe. We are also now at the point where we are about to take over from largely unconscious processes of evolution by taking evolution into our own hands.

          4. Responding to your comment below. By “no consciousness without embodiment, I am assuming you mean the human like consciousness we enjoy at present. If I recall, your position as a panpsychist is that matter has some sort of very slight awareness.

          5. Simon, by “embodiment” I mean manifesting in matter, so “em-matterment” would be a better term. My point is that it seems that consciousness and matter go hand in hand necessarily, so no matter means no mind. But the flip side is also true: where there is matter there is also mind and where there is mind there is also matter.

      2. The evidence for these phenomena are mainly personal and intuitive and not subject to mechanical scientific evidence. Science will catch up at a later date which more effective tools in whatever shape or form is either discovered or invented. Meanwhile,we are all free to continue our own individual journey but am sure at a critical point many currently diverging paths WILL converge.

      3. Tam, I think you either know you have a soul or you don’t. I have had enough experiences in deep meditation to know I am not this body and there is a non physical presence here that is always with me. It is incredibly loving and peaceful, despite what craziness is going on in my mind. I just have to keep going within to know who I really am beyond name and form. Wasn’t it Teilhard de Chardin who said ‘we are spiritual beings having a human experience’, not the other way around? Anyway that’s my experience, but I can’t prove it scientifically, and I don’t think we ever will as long as science only looks at matter and not consciousness itself. Nikola Tesla said if science starts delving into consciousness it will make more progress in 10 years that in the entire history of science. I couldn’t agree more with Mr Tesla. BTW, thanks for your article.

      4. When we ask: What was first: The hen or the egg, god or singularity/bigbang, matter or consciousness, the soul or the body, we are assuming a beginning and -perhaps-. and end and a timeline as a premise or paradigm of creation.

        As we assume this we can also think: Might there be multiple beginnings and ends(..of spacetimedimensions).

        Now we can think, o.k., How many times will this creation go on and does already exist ?

        The problem remains the same as far as we think linear from our human perspective of “a life”.

        The problem vanishes when we think from an eternal and infinite perspective. Now we can ask: “What is our experience to die” The body/matter/son or the soul/mind/consciousness/father/holy spirit.

        it is our free choice of mind to think dualistic and divisive of theology OR sciences( to be right or wrong) or holistic and uniting of theology and/as sciences (with numbers and equations) to be both right and to see in a singularity the oneness of humanity.

        The next singularity will come through love, compassion and forgiveness. As oneness of humanity in HD(Higher-self Definition). The only thing we have to do is to allow one another to get our full potential download form the Akasha database as unique creative beings to serve one another instead of serving profit and growth of capital and economy. We are a puzzle to complete one another, one organism.

        1. Am in complete and total agreement with your view and reply. Keep up the good works and shine your light every where. Well done Christian!

          1. Christian, it won’t let me continue our thread above so I’m responding down here. You’re using the term “fact” differently than I’m using it. What I mean by this term is a recognition of something observed in our conscious awareness that we can verify. This could be the fact of me sitting on a chair right now, or the fact of the sun shining outside my house right now. Again, to be scientific simply means to take a cautious approach to knowledge. It seems that your confusing my focus on scientific method with a commitment to some kind of narrow materialism. To the contrary, we can accept the merits of a scientific approach and still embrace a broader worldview than today’s prevailing scientific theories. Accepting scientific method doesn’t mean we have to accept any particular scientific theory. We can be scientific and still accept a role for faith where science has nothing to offer. But check out the first few columns I posted here if you’d like to learn more about the “deep science” that I’m advocating as a remedy to today’s overly narrow approach to science.

          2. Tam, the hugest “fact” to be observed, to wonder and to ask questions about is the Universe. If we talk about a singularity, we talk about cosmology and physics. As we do so, we have to talk about energy. Why should energy not be created “out of nothing” by consciousness when even Hawking states that a whole Universe incl. time was able to evolve out of “nothing” ? It follows the same idea: Matter evolved out of nothing – which is not entirely correct because the “nothing” had to become the idea of a singularity(of energy) first. This is what Buddha presented us already 2500 years ago as being creation : Emptyness(nothing) and concepts(ideas).

            Whatever we think or talk about: First there is an idea, or some ideas like those of Kurzweil, a fiction, a hypothesis, a theory. The fiction may become science fiction, it may become sciences, it may become practice, it may become reality. The process is always the same: From theory to practice. Theory of eternal consciousness (aka god as “brahman” in vedic philosophy) is my key to understand the idea of eternal life practice. What do you think why the word “theory” does contain a “theo”, “deus”, “zeus”, “god” and english language is using the exprsssions of things(ideas) that “matter”………….

            “Cogito ergo sum”(Descartes) – I think therefore i am. Instead of having faith in religion OR sciences we should have more faith in ourselves being the creative and conscious idealists of theology AND sciences. “We are” and already as “we are and ask why/what/how” we do: creation. The Universe is the hugest answer to all the questions we are arguing on. Scientific fundamentalism and totalirism are basing on the error that there was anything without consciousness and to believ that energy is physics. Energy is already metaphysics. It is human to be afraid of taking responsibility of becoming divine. Being E, m and c follows the same pattern like having a father(energy), a son(embodied, matter, particles) and the holy spirit(consciousness, light as waves, fields).

    2. Pete, I agree that we reembody multiple times. The purpose of reembodiment is to advance our consciousness to the point that embodiment is no longer necessary. No artificial means are required to live forever. We were originally meant to do that.

      Tam: I don’t have what I think you would consider to be “proof”, just a different belief system. I assume that you are operating from the orthodox Judeo-Christian belief that you only live once and then you die. Consider this: The evolution that is occurring is the evolution of the individual through experiences that teach what we each need to do with our life energies. All is energy. Matter is simply condensed energy. The circumstances of our lives, our bodies, our friends, family and everything we are dealing with are because of things we have done previously with our energy. The law of cause and effect aka karma determines what happens. We are creating karma with every thought, feeling, spoken word or action.

      ”The ultimate purpose for reincarnation is for us to learn enough lessons and gain enough experience from Earth lives that reincarnation is no longer necessary. Like a graduation. Reincarnation is not the goal. Eternal life means never having to die anymore. That is the goal – overcoming death and rebirth. Reincarnation is the method and means to attain this goal.” –Reincarnation and the Bible by Kevin Williams

      Also consider this theory: i2wpk

      That is actually what Jesus did, He raised his consciousness into the Ascension. Contrary to what most Christians believe, the main point was not the resurrection. He was the messenger who came to show us the way home. THERE IS NO DEATH. Your lifestream just lays down the physical body when the allotment of energy for that embodiment (lifetime) is depleted and moves to another plane of existence until it is opportune to reembody again and try to make the ascension. We just forget our previous lives and most of us don’t even know why we are here.

      This explanation has not been very thorough. I put together a document to more fully explain. It is very long but here is a link if you would like to take a look.

      1. Dianne, I’m not coming at this issue from a Judeo-Christian mindset at all; rather, I’m coming at it from a scientific perspective. I’ve reviewed the evidence on reincarnation and don’t find it convincing. I’m always open to new evidence, however, so I’m not ruling it out. What evidence do you find convincing regarding reincarnation?

        1. Evidence comes from several sources,namely,logic,emotion,intellect and intuition. We use all three everyday but not the intuitive aspect. Here lies the crux of the matter. Denial of something that does not exist proves its existence! Majority of innovative ideas and inventions came through intuitive thoughts that was resisted by the individual,sometimes ridiculed by main stream society/science till the evidence becomes logical,intellectual and convincing to the groups/bodies that accept and evaluate such new ideas. Death is in such a category of intuitive knowing which may take time to be evaluated when the evidences begins to mount up. I assure, we will see the evidence in our lifetime.

          1. Vincent, to each their own and I am not trying to dictate what should count as evidence. However, I think it is reasonable to rely on evidence that can be demonstrated in some manner to other people, so this means going beyond intuition. It means being able to show, for example, that your memory of a past life or event has some bearing to records of that same life or event. In other words, evidence should be susceptible to corroboration if we want to be scientific about this endeavor.

        2. What do you find so convincing in sciences Tam? Sciences can merely explain about 5 % of the Universe, the rest is – assumed – Dark Matter and – assumed – Dark Energy. DM is needed for a gravitational effect, No one really knows if it must be neccesarily matter therefore. DM and DE could also be replaceholdered as “Micky” and “Goofie”. It would’t change anything in sciences.

          QM can’t even explain how matter is generated so far and QM and RT do not work together in one equation. If more people would really understand the meaning that gravity shall be an attraction caused by spacetime curvature most physicists were sent to the psychatry. Thank god they don’t.

          There is a third way to solve the problem of “Sciences OR Theology” It is the way of Sciences WITH/AND/AS Theology(and vv). Just like Einstein when he said: “Sciences without religion is lame, religion without sciences is blind” and Max Planck, when he said: “We have no right to assume that any physical laws exist, or if they have existed up to now, that they will continue to exist in a similar manner in the future.
          Science cannot solve the ultimate mystery of nature. And that is because, in the last analysis, we ourselves are part of nature and therefore part of the mystery that we are trying to solve.”

          Let us resume sciences: Matter on earth became self conscious once because of water from meteors (perhaps), self creating DNA-molecules(maybe) and evolutionary selection(probably) in a Universe no one really knows to explain and out of nothing………………???

          Douglas Adams says: “The Universe is the product of its own fantasy” Yeah, that’s elegant and beautiful and consciousness(fantasy) is at first. And our additional option is to be fantastic. I mean, that’s better than to derive from a stupid stone that became conscious just before stone age, isn’t it.

          So let let us add both premises and Einstein and Planck to one: The Universe is the product of an evolutionary consciuosness process in 4 dimensions, driven by religions and sciences which is unable to understand itself and asking pointless question about itself.

          You can make your decision now: Do you wanna be fantastic too, or do you want to look for consciousness in our heads like looking for the speaker in the radio…… Love and Light

          1. Christian, in this context by “scientific” I mean “to be fact-based.” To be scientific doesn’t mean we have to commit ourselves to any particular theory currently in vogue. One thing we learn from studying science and the history of science is that it’s always changing. And it changes at least in part b/c facts matter. I asked Dianne about her views on the soul b/c I’ve reviewed the evidence and found nothing convincing regarding the existence of a soul as something independent of mind/body. But others are free to disagree based on their own review of the evidence. And others are free to disagree by rejecting a fact-based inquiry entirely, preferring instead a faith-based approach. I can’t say that’s wrong but it’s not my preference. I think facts and reason have a strong role to play in any decent worldview, but I certainly accept a role for faith where reason has nothing to offer.

          2. Yes Tam, what i’m talking about are the facts about/from sciences. A fact(um) which means “made” or “done” for example is how “energy” was made/done(or created, or invented). When you look back into history how, when the idea of energy occured first, you can find the explanation that “energy” is from old greek en=inner and ergo=effect. When the ancient greek wondered about the causes of physical phenomenons they assumed: “There must be a cause inside of material things for the phenomenons(heat, acceleration, pneumatics..) we can observe” Energy is in fact the idea: “Where there is an effect there must be cause” – to be named energy and it became a fun da mental physical size/quantity and out of nothing else as through the addition of “en” and “ergo”. It was made measurable as calories and joule and quantized for subatomic particles by Planck to avoid the ultraviolet catastrophe, but basically and primarily energy is a spiritual invention of human minds. Energy is nothing physical, it is neither a substance nor an object, it has no atoms, no mass. Energy is an idea, it is metaphysical, it is beyond physics………

            All the words used as quantities or values in sciences are spiritual inventions of creative human minds. There was never anything to be “found” like scientific language wants to tell us because there is neither a “god” to tell us the “truth” nor an inherent voice inside the phenomenons to tell us their name and how they want to be treated. It is human fantasy and creativity to explain and connect phenomenons they call physical(even when they are spiritual) with numbers and equations.

            These are the historical facts about energy and wording in sciences and physicists like Einstein and Planck are pretty aware and conscious of this. If scientists would change the quantity name(unit) of energy from Joule to “Godlets” everything would be fine and there was no reason to say: “I believe in sciences” or “I believe in theology” because both are belief in mentally created words and relationships of words, numbers and equations. As a philosopher you should know this and it might be also the reason because the bible says: “In the beginning was the word………”

          3. Christian, it won’t let me continue our thread above so I’m responding down here. You’re using the term “fact” differently than I’m using it. What I mean by this term is a recognition of something observed in our conscious awareness that we can verify. This could be the fact of me sitting on a chair right now, or the fact of the sun shining outside my house right now. Again, to be scientific simply means to take a cautious approach to knowledge. It seems that your confusing my focus on scientific method with a commitment to some kind of narrow materialism. To the contrary, we can accept the merits of a scientific approach and still embrace a broader worldview than today’s prevailing scientific theories. Accepting scientific method doesn’t mean we have to accept any particular scientific theory. We can be scientific and still accept a role for faith where science has nothing to offer. But check out the first few columns I posted here if you’d like to learn more about the “deep science” that I’m advocating as a remedy to today’s overly narrow approach to science.

    3. I love the way you Think!! And I like to believe that this is in fact true and we will come back to another body for new experiences…..

  2. I believe it i totally possible to extend our lives without resorting to artificial means, just simply using the power of our minds (consciousness)/belief. I think we have been programmed to believe in aging, and so we do. What does anyone else think?

  3. Perhaps the loss of this body is natural, but the soul is immortal and immaterial. Trying to fight the forces of the universe can only bring bad karma, so instead I think we should do everything we can in this body and live the fullest life possible and then embrace whatever comes after.

  4. I suppose living forever wouldn’t be so bad for most of us if we could actually have’ The Pursuit of Happiness’ without the interference of so many dysfunctional people in our everyday lives and out of control greedy government and corporate corruption not to mentioned all the toxins released in the environment. If society would unite and demand putting an end to so many toxic and evil occurrences where living would actually be pleasant and enjoyable for all; I say it is a good thing we only live a short time in the present scheme of things.

    1. Our collective consciousness is increasing to such a critical point that we may soon be able to influence the “bad apples” for the good in our human society.

  5. While life is wonderful and it is a privilege to be on earth why would you want to extend your life. Death is only a transition and not a terminal event. Why would you be afraid or even hesitant to move on to the next phase of the cycle!

  6. it wouldn’t really matter if anyone dies to biologically evolve as a species, what’s more important is new people being born.

  7. Death is as natural as life. Life only exists because of death, as the theory of evolution shows. Life without death is not life anymore. So, if we ever manage to become immortal, we will be dead almost by definition.

  8. I believe ore bodies are designed perfectly to live healthy long lives or even become immortal. Our bodies have everything to fight off all diseases and illnesses. The only reason we see people getting sick because they believe it possible, if we trusted our bodies instead of the doctors who tell us that there is always a defect we could heal. Science has always shown us we get new bones, skin, organs..etc in less than a years time. Our bodies are literally regenerating every year. But when they do if we believe we age and get sick then that is what is regenerated. I do understand why people would want to die eventually also, if life is miserable why would you want to stay here? I think though we are also waking up to fulfilling our dreams and desires and one days soon people won’t want to die and they won’t.
    Live free!
    Shana Marie Live

    1. We still have yet to understand the placebo effect, but the implications are mind-blowing in more than one sense of the word. Just think, all known matter is malleable; What does this tell you?

    2. Also, I’m curious; What host are you using for your blog?! The layout is very simple, clean, and attractive.

  9. The idea that we need death is very much linked to the idea that life can be lived only on earth….if we can extend life or become immortal the vastness of space is at our reach and with it adventure, knowledge and endless possibilities. Would you choose death or the possibility to experience and discover? Its my conviction that our aim as a species is to experience, to percieve, to feel and to know….this is the meaning of existence….and out there, is an infinity awaiting 🙂

    1. Who is to say that death does not bring the possibility to experience and discover?
      For all we know, death can bring with it much more to experience and discover than life on this plane of existence..

    1. My feeling is that if we do start living much longer lives we’ll actually see populations decline substantially. Here’s why: if you knew that you had far longer time to have a family wouldn’t you wait quite a bit longer to have kids? And wouldn’t you have more time to develop a secure economic base that might lessen your need to have children as part of you personal social safety net? If the universe is your playground and time is your friend a lot of us may choose to forgo having kids entirely. At the least, I think we’ll see a lot more well-adjusted kids that come from better-adjusted parents b/c parents can afford the time to work through the pains of their own upbringing before becoming parents. With our model now to have kids in our twenties and thirties it’s often kids having kids and neuroses are passed on from generation to generation. If we can wait a lot longer to have kids we have a good chance of breaking that cycle. And at the same time I think we’ll see smaller families and eventually a large decline in population rather than the opposite. We’re already seeing this trend in most Western countries even without radical life extension techniques. In fact, 100 of the 192 or so countries in the world today are already seeing negative growth rates. So population growth is not a problem anymore in developed countries, only in developing countries. And they’re fast turning the corner to stable or negative growth too.

  10. When we think on the individual basis, this article makes total sense. As a person, why would not I want to live longer, and experience all that this world has to offer, and be a part of the changes as well.
    What I do believe, is that social & biological evolution cannot replace one another. They in fact are parallels, which keep interacting with each other.

    The physical body is a machine, requiring fuel to continue operating, and breaking down with wear & tear, and if a machine continues running for a really long time, it takes a lot of resources from nature (also considering the fact that there are other similar machines also striving for a longer lifespan). It would disrupt the whole complex machinery of nature, where death of one form of being becomes the food or resource for some other life form (while also giving way to the new beings), and the whole cycle hence continues.

    We take death very emotionally, fearing about the losses that could arise out of it, about the opportunities that would be missed. We never realize take it in a wholesome manner. But again, this is valid, only if life is thought of more as a part of the collective, and less of individual.

    We need to give thought to the fact that why did the concept of death ever exist, and if we stop it, what would be the impact on a larger scale? Could it be similar to this example: With the death of predators like tigers and wolves, the deer multiplied in large numbers. These herds of deer consumed the local plants at a rapid rate, without letting them grow back in time. Eventually, there was no food left to eat for the deer.

    But, coming back to the individualistic thought, what if we could find a way to extend lives beyond the physical boundaries? What if we could survive without the physical limitations of food & sleep, and continue experiencing the wonders of this world?

  11. Yes indeed, evidence should be susceptible to corroboration if we want to be scientific (current) about this endeavour. Science is as dynamic as the arts and we see the evidence from time to time.the mapping of the human DNA which originally concluded as 90 percent junk but now with mounting evidence that the 90 percent is uncoded and the search to find the code for this is concentrating scientific minds. The large hadron collider experiment in Geneva is yielding baffling results to science on how constant the speed of light is. Quantum physics was not evidential until just about 50 years ago. We have to wait for the empirical corroborative evidence and that will be science at a later date.

    1. Yes, I discuss telomeres in the article. Of course it’s natural (meaning, it happens regularly) for telomeres to shorten and this is one of the many things that leads to aging and breakdown of cellular functioning. My point more generally is that if we look at death from an evolutionary perspective we can make a credible argument that death no longer is required in order for us to evolve further.

      1. i agree. the death of the organism as its feature seems be advantage when natural selection gives a place to live to next generations. and death is no longer required if for example we move for colonize space. according to fact that organ unused recedes. having kind of tanatophoby i appreciate work of alcor life extension for hibernation, russian project avatar 2045 but also works qualified as ezoteric, relations of NDE ect. is precious to me. thank you for the article

        1. Hi Chowaniak,

          You are correct. Are u involved in Avtar 2045 project. It is wonderful and can u share more details here.


  12. The Body is a machine designed for 120 years and as a reflection of HIM in various small glasses in the Universe as one small speck of glass each. One glass breaks on death the image of HIM disappeared and it is replaced. In case of one who understands HIMSELF he is able to merge the glass and disappear without breaking. This is going to the primordial and a paradox and no words have explanation as like LOVE which can only be felt and not described. This is a higher level mysticism which can be understood by student who becomes ready to receive the teacher’s lessons. So being a student at lower rung I am awaiting for gr8 Masters from Universe to receive such lesson.

  13. Christian, it won’t let me continue our thread above so I’m responding down here. You’re using the term “fact” differently than I’m using it. What I mean by this term is a recognition of something observed in our conscious awareness that we can verify. This could be the fact of me sitting on a chair right now, or the fact of the sun shining outside my house right now. Again, to be scientific simply means to take a cautious approach to knowledge. It seems that your confusing my focus on scientific method with a commitment to some kind of narrow materialism. To the contrary, we can accept the merits of a scientific approach and still embrace a broader worldview than today’s prevailing scientific theories. Accepting scientific method doesn’t mean we have to accept any particular scientific theory. We can be scientific and still accept a role for faith where science has nothing to offer. But check out the first few columns I posted here if you’d like to learn more about the “deep science” that I’m advocating as a remedy to today’s overly narrow approach to science.

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