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Should Human Beings Live Forever?

Updated on August 20, 2012
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Immortality. The holy grail mankind has sought after as long as history has been recorded. Many have tried, all have failed. The truth is that it is scientifically possible, in a sense. While there may be no known way to make us completely infallible, we do know what must be done in order to stop our bodies from degrading as we age. We just don't know how....yet

As we approach the day where scientists finally discover the real life cure for aging, we need to start considering the consequences. Eliminating the degradation of our bodies over time will be the single biggest event in the history of mankind. Landing on the moon will not even compare, because this will impact religion, politics, the very nature of how we live our lives on a day to day basis will be turned upside down.

Population Control

Today, on Halloween 2011, we officially reached a world population of 7 billion people. There is a critical mass when it comes to human population, just as there is with any living creature. As long as people are able to have 3 or more children, population growth will be and has been exponential. As of 2009 the growth rate of the human population was 1.1% per year. If we were to continue uninhibited at this rate, that would mean the population would double in the next 91 years. Now imagine a scenario where we stopped dying. It would grow even faster. And if anybody thinks the earth can handle 14 billion people, they are horribly mistaken. We need empty land for farming. The more people we have the more farmland we need, which is counterproductive since a higher population will take up more space.

We may not die of old age, but we will certainly die of famine.

Class Warfare

Without a doubt, life extension may just add more years for the rich to get richer, and the poor to get poorer. In order for our society to function properly, we need janitors, cooks, cashiers, etc. Who will want to live in a society where they are forced to clean bathrooms their entire lives? If everybody eventually becomes well educated, everybody is going to want to pursue careers that pay, or careers they will enjoy. There very well may come a time where the rich and powerful manage to suppress everybody else, forcing them to work the jobs nobody else wants to. Already there is a divide between upper and middle class America. Can we manage a system where all necessary jobs are filled? Maybe society as we know it will fall apart. Maybe we will devolve back into a society of slavery. We can't really know until it happens.

Crime and Punishment

The criminal justice system. I can only imagine where this will go. Will we still be able to put people away for life? We can't truly expect to keep people in prison for hundreds or even thousands of years. So maybe the death penalty will be the answer. And yet, in a world where people can potentially live forever, how can we possibly justify ending the life of another no matter how heinous the crime. Certainly there will be big problems here. And if they are big enough, people just may turn to widespread vigilantism where one does not get a trial. Many people may die, accused of crimes they didn't even commit.

Faith and Religion

One of the key reasons for the existence of religion is to prepare us for death. As such, religion has rooted itself deeply in human culture. Entire nations have been built solely on a religious structure. Once we start playing God, many people will revolt. Many lives are already lost to war and terrorism, often under the guise of a religious cause. This will only make it worse.

Life As We Know It - Forever Changed

Clearly we have a lot to look forward to. This is not a matter of if but when. Can we bear the responsibilities that will fall on us once we have crossed into the realms of immortality? Surely this is not something we can just keep locked away from people. Once the line has been crossed, life extension will surely be a human right, otherwise we are condemning people to an avoidable death. Science seems to be on the brink of providing us the ability to stay forever young. These changes may just happen in our lifetime. Are you ready?

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    • mattforte profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Pearson 

      6 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      Expanding by 40 to 50 years has already happened. By the time I retire people will easily live 100-200 years. Current estimates put us at around 2045 when we stop/reverse the aging process.

    • dwelburn profile image

      David 

      6 years ago from Birmingham, UK

      I obviously haven't studied this as much as you have, but from what I understand this will probably take place in phases. First we need to find out how to extend average lifespans by 20 - 30 years. And then a further 40 - 50 years. And finally to cure ageing completely, which could take a long time. But it wouldn't matter if we could keep extending lifespan until that happened. Is this how you see it, or do you see a different mechanism at work? Would like to read more on the subject.

    • profile image

      G-lue 

      6 years ago

      I'm doing a philosophical presentation on immortality and this gave me a lot of insight on this topic! Voted up:)

    • JBastow profile image

      JBastow 

      6 years ago from Gateshead United Kingdom

      great hub cannot wait to read some of your other work!

    • mattforte profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Pearson 

      6 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      Actually, you'd probably be locked into about 30. (give or take depending on the person)

      If they fix the telomere problem, then you will literally grow to your peak, and never degrade from age. The only way you're ever going to be locked into 17 is if Robert Pattinson gives you a toothy kiss on the neck.

    • Brandon E Newman profile image

      Brandon E Newman 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      Yeah, Locked in at 17. That would be the life. Plenty of time to rectify mistakes, Get rich, and fall in love-over and over again. If I could choose to be immortal, I would not share the secret!

    • mattforte profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Pearson 

      6 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      Brandon:

      Truth of the matter is, regardless of who does or doesn't want to...it is going to happen sooner or later. One biological tweak to our DNA and we'll stop ageing.

      And to answer who does? I for one, do.

    • Brandon E Newman profile image

      Brandon E Newman 

      6 years ago from North Texas

      Who wants to live forever anyway. Can you imagine the apathy in the world if no one ever died. Having babies would be illegal. People would be so bored with themselves. Suicide would be commonplace, in a society where death was optional.

    • mattforte profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Pearson 

      7 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      Thanks again.

      I agree - in an ideal situation all of these problems will be solved. However some say the time may come in under 40 years that this will be made possible. This is why I think it is important that these issues be brought to light sooner rather than later. I've got more to come on similar, yet different topics ;-)

    • donsabelhaus profile image

      donsabelhaus 

      7 years ago from Indiana

      Hopefully by the time we reach immortality the bulk of the problems you brought up will have been solved. Very interesting read, voted up.

    • LisaKoski profile image

      Lisa 

      7 years ago from WA

      You made a lot of very interesting points that I never thought of when it comes to a society of immortals. I voted this hub up!

    • mattforte profile imageAUTHOR

      Steven Pearson 

      7 years ago from Spanaway, WA

      Thanks guys =D

      Gmwilliams - I completely agree. That is another part of the class warfare that may arise. It is also one of the first issues I thought of years ago when I started following the life extension projects. Expect to see more from me on the subject!

      Cap'n - I appreciate it! I have spent years following this subject, dating back before most people ever heard of the idea and they thought I was crazy every time I brought it up. I've got a lot to give!

    • Captain Redbeard profile image

      Captain Redbeard 

      7 years ago from Ohio

      Great hub!!! Loved your questions and how you got straight to the point without going off topic! Looking forward to reading more of your work sir!

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      This is an insightful and intelligent hub. You have made some valid points regarding the issue of immortality. I have saw a DVD regarding this and I can see many positive points to the issue; however, with the positive ramifications of this issue, there are also some extremely negative issues. I surely believe that the issue of immortality if it comes to past will positively affect the affluent and educated because they will have more access to such longetivity products whereas the less affluent would not have such access thus having shorter lives. This is a great subject for a science fiction piece. Great hub! I voted it up!!

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