I wrote, on Facebook, the comments below in response to an old First Things article.
Good, in-depth look at what might be wrong with the desire to solve aging and eliminate disease and to try to make us able to live indefinitely. Insightful.
Still, he only addresses conquest of life’s gradual degradation. I really don’t think we can, but even if we did solve all the problems of aging, the problems of the aged, and cured all disease, we wouldn’t approach unending lives. There are too many other problems. Accidents, homicide, and suicide are not problems science or modernity can solve.
Some commentators have speculated that risk aversion would become the primary consideration if no one simply died of natural causes associated with longevity. For instance, such speculation assumes that no one would ride motorcycles. Yeah, sure. That will be the day.
We are all familiar with stories of long-livers, and the power, and enemies, they accumulate. Much less motivation has resulted in far too many murders.
And then there is suicide. Roughly speaking, around one in 10,000 persons lose the battle and intentionally end it. Such a circumstance exists throughout history and across all cultures and groups. For better or for worse, for grand cause or desperation, such it is. No medicine will change it.
Life focused on self implodes. Life without honest and appropriate consideration of others is hardly worthy of the title.
He addresses procreation, and nothing shows more routinely the greatest love than the selfless parent who sacrifices for the children. Balance in all things, and certainly there is ample meaning for those who go childless, by choice or not, but for most of us, it is our truly meaningful accomplishment, having and rearing our children such that we know we are justified being proud of them. It is, as the article explains, our true way of overcoming our mortality.
Of course, he leaves off the ultimate. He discusses life everlasting, and admit it or not, we all believe. Still, eternal life is, or it is not, and we all will know soon enough. Yet, for what we know, in what we must accept, we cannot ultimately overcome our impermanence. Ultimately, it is not given to our universe, to this natural reality, to continue. It is finite. Even if we have a billion generations, it will end eventually. Physicists speculate variously, but they all agree it will end, and no evidence allows for alternatives. How long? Does that actually matter? Is even 1,000 years long when life as we know it has been around about a million times longer? For that matter, is just a few years short? Just a few months? Just a few minutes? As sad is it may be, and truly we are justified in feeling sad and deprived at untimely death, the truth is, we all die young.
I also note that the article is a decade-and-a-half old. That dates much of what he says. Some of what he feared is continuing, but much of it has faded as reality marches on and our unfounded hopes are dashed. Yet, now we hear of transhumanity, of technological longevity in some presumed digital facsimile of ourselves. This too shall pass. So too shall each of us.