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Monday, May 22, 2006

Want to Live Forever?

Scientists are saying that perhaps in the not-too-distant future they will be able to significantly slow the human aging process. Through genetic manipulation, they have already been able to extend the lives of flies, worms and mice. It's not eternal life, but it could mean the average life-span of an American could be double what it is today. Imagine living to be 140 years old. Think of still being in your physical prime when you are 80. Some of the researcher think this could just be a scratch on the surface and that humans may one day live for centuries.

I first heard about this research 5 or 6 years ago and the first thing I remember thinking was that it put a new light on those figures in the Old Testament who lived such remarkably long lives.

Read here for the full story.

What's your opinion of this research? Good idea or bad?

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Kletos Sumboulos said...

The kneeslapper was this line: "Multiple, brief marriages could become common."
How exactly would that be a change? I don't think that people would use their extra time to benefit humanity, learn to play classical piano, etc. People would squander their extra years, just as they do now. This technology won't be free and people do still die of disease and accident, etc. So what you will have is a few people, mostly wealthy who live a long time, some of whom will use their advanced age to benefit others with their accumulated wisdom. On the other hand, remember Dolly the sheep? She was not exactly a success and died of old age very young. I'm certain that there are drawbacks.

Now, what about Isaiah 65:20? Some translations render it something like, "a person who dies at 100 will be considered a young man..."

Darrell said...

This is my gut reaction, which is entirely emotional and probably not a logical response to the question. Anyway, the idea of possibly living long enough to outlive my kids TERRIFIES me. I guess most of us fear death in one way or another, and my fear of death is mostly fear of the deaths of the people I love. Everyone I love is required to outlive me! Beyond that, I honestly would hope that I'd be ready to meet my maker (and I mean that literally, not colloquially) long before I'm 140.

If you'll allow, I'd also like to say that as a Catholic convert, my personal belief in purgatory has almost entirely eliminated my fear of my own death. I get a lot of comfort from the notion that I'll have the time and the opportunity to by cleansed... to have the lingering effects of my sins burned away by the love of God... before I enter into His Kingdom. I'm not qualified to debate the idea of purgatory on a theological level, but I will say that I draw tremendous comfort from my belief. The best way I can illustrate what I mean is by mentioning Eustace and the dragon from Voyage of the Dawn Treader. It hurt when Aslan stripped away the dragon skin to reveal the clean, renewed boy inside... but Eustace was so glad to be freed of that dragon skin, and so glad to have it removed with love by Aslan.

Pastor, I'm afraid I've gotten off topic! Nonetheless, this bit of rambling is my honest reaction to the question. Live to be 140? Bah! I, for one, just don't want to!

Good post, as usual.

Diana said...

If any of this research is being done using embryonic stem cells, then it is definitely not a good thing.

As for the changes in society that are being predicted in that article, I had to laugh. For example, they mentioned that marriage will no longer be a lifelong commitment, but several brief marriages will become the norm. I don't know the statistics so I could be wrong, but on general observation, it seems to me that this is already going on.

Then they talked about changing attitudes toward youth and age. Right now, the attitude seems to be, "Let's kill 'em if their existence is inconvenient." If that attitude prevails, what good is this research? It won't prevent infanticide, homicide, fratricide, patricide, matricide, suicide or any other 'cide. I suspect that the only change would be that natural deaths will decrease as unnatural deaths increase.

In the end, the scientists will do what they will, and God will do as He wills.
Personally, I like what Paul said. "For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain."

The Heresy Hunter said...

It won't work. The government will put out contracts on anyone over 100 because they can't afford to pay them social security benefits or give them medical coverage anymore!

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Thanks for your input and perspective. Just a thought. I would say that the scene you refer to in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is more aptly an allusion to Baptism. It happens in a fountain of water. And it is the beginning of Eustace's conversion, not to the conclusion of it.

Paul, in South Park said...


Good news! The Son of God died for the forgiveness of our sins. There is no need to worry about going to "Purgatory".

Darrell said...

Pastor Scott: Just a thought. I would say that the scene you refer to in "Voyage of the Dawn Treader" is more aptly an allusion to Baptism.

Yes, you're absolutely right, and I do interpret the scene that way, too... I just mentioned my other interpretation of the dragon scene because I can't think of a better way to illustrate how I feel about purgatory and how that feeling has forever changed my ideas about death and removed my fear of it.

C.S. Lewis, by the way, believed in purgatory. From Letters To Malcolm: "Our souls demand purgatory, don't they? Would it not break the heart if God said to us, 'It is true, my son, that your breath smells and your rags drip with mud and slime, but we are charitable here and no one will upbraid you with these things, nor draw away from you. Enter into the joy'? Should we not reply, 'With submission, sir, and if there is no objection, I'd rather be cleansed first.' 'It may hurt, you know.' 'Even so, sir.'"

I can't help but see Eustice and the dragon in that passage.

Purgatory is a complex issue and a subject of much debate, of course... and it was a major factor in my discernment of which church I belong in. It was one of the first "Catholic" beliefs that I embraced enthusiastically.

Paul in South Park: Good news! The Son of God died for the forgiveness of our sins. There is no need to worry about going to "Purgatory".

Oh, really? That's so super cool! If only someone had mentioned that to me before! In that case, forget purgatory!

Pastor Scott Stiegemeyer said...

Hi all,
On purgatory. I believe it is necessary to make a clear distinction between justification and sanctification. As far as I understand the matter, Purgatory is about latter and not the former. But I think it's also possible that in Roman theology, there is not so much a distinction. I could be wrong.

Everyone agrees that Jesus died for the sins of the world. That's not about Purgatory. Right? It's not expiation, an act that was completed by Christ. It's seen as temporal punishment, or we might so purification. Or I would put it, "sanctification."

I don't disagree that the soul needs to be purified/sanctified before entering heaven. Justification is extra nos (outside of us). Sanctification is in nos (inside of us). I am justified by God's declaration on a account of Christ. I am sanctified by the Holy Spirit living in me, often using suffering to make me holy.

Without venturing into speculation, it seems to me that this purification we speak of simply occurs at the instant of bodily death. Anything further, as I mentioned, sounds like speculation to me.

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