Tuesday, July 30, 2013

The Pursuit of Digital Immortality, Part III

Note: This is the last article in a series. The previous two parts can be found here and here.

One of the other aspects of pursuing "digital immortality" is the idea that mankind can somehow defeat or avoid the aging process by doing an end-run around the problem altogether. By putting the personality, thoughts, and abilities of a person into a chip, technically the idea of aging would cease to exist as long as the power is up and running. Hence the idea of immortality.

Yet there is an aspect of aging that often gets overlooked. It's easy to focus on the incredible advances of science, medicine, and medical care of the past few decades. After all, life spans are increasing, if only by a few years on average, and new drugs are coming onto the market all the time to help people live longer. Despite all this progress, there still seems to be an upper limit in place of around 120 years. In fact, if you check the oldest person in the world list over on Wikipedia, the maximum age achieved so far was 122 years and 164 days by Jeanne Calment. According to the article, Jeanne even met Vincent Van Gogh!

Given what we see nowadays for lifespans, it seems hard to reconcile this with the strange lifespans found in the early parts of the Book of Genesis. How is that Adam lived to be 930 years old when people nowadays can't seem to get past 120 years old? Noah lived to around 950, and Abram (Abraham) lived to the age of 175! Were measurements different back then or is there something more to this?

From a glance at the early chapters of Genesis, it's clear the world was different back then. For example, water came up from springs in the ground (Genesis 2:4-6) and before the fall plants were given to the animals for food (Genesis 1:29-30). But everything changed after the Great Flood.

After the Flood, lifespans changed, too. Take note of the ages in this table, for instance. Shem (one of Noah's sons) lived to be around 600 years old (or 435 in the Septuagint). From there the lifespans appear to continue to fall until Abram's time. It's likely they kept falling, too, perhaps due to disease, malnutrition, and who knows what else. Then, after the exodus period, Moses passed away at the age of 120 (for example).

But that is not all that the Bible says about aging. In Genesis 6:3 (NKJV), right before the flood and the selection of Noah to build an ark, God says, "And the Lord said, "My Spirit shall not strive with man forever, for he is indeed flesh; yet his days shall be one hundred and twenty years."" Later, in Psalm 90:10 (NKJV), it reads, "The days of our lives are seventy years; and if by reason of strength they are eighty years, yet their boast is only labor and sorrow; for it is soon cut off, and we fly away." Is it any surprise that most people barely make it into their eighties and that only one person in modern times has even made it past 120?

But there's more. Remember what I said about the animals eating plants Genesis chapter 1? There will come a time when that will happen again. In Isaiah 11:6 (NKJV), it reads, "The wolf also shall dwell with the lamb, the leopard shall lie down with the young goat, the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them." In Isaiah 65:25 (NKJV), it also states, ""The wolf and the lamb shall feed together, the lion shall eat straw like the ox, and dust shall be the serpent’s food. They shall not hurt nor destroy in all My holy mountain," says the Lord." Now, it's unclear as to when these events will occur, but the context of the verses seems to indicate they might take place in the Millennial era or even at the end of that age (see Isaiah 65:17, II Peter 3:13, and Revelation 21:1). Whatever the case...sometime in the future.

Alongside the Isaiah 65 verse about animals, there is another curious verse which states, "No more shall an infant from there live but a few days, nor an old man who has not fulfilled his days; for the child shall die one hundred years old, but the sinner being one hundred years old shall be accursed." (Isaiah 65:20, NKJV). It sounds as though long lifespans may in fact come back at some point...but not until a lot of other events happen first. Is it possible we were originally intended to have lives that spanned centuries instead of decades?

In summary, it seems as though there is a reason why humans can only live to a certain age. It also appears that the long lifespans in the early pages of Genesis were not an aberration...but part of a much greater plan...a plan that has yet to be fulfilled in its entirety.

So where will the efforts of technology to lead us past our current aging barriers take us? Besides all the other issues I brought up in the two previous posts in this series, perhaps someone should implement a plan to pay a light bill 120 years in advance.

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