STATIC DISCLAIMER: All the stuff in here is purely my opinions, and they tend to change depending on what mood I'm in. If you're going to get bitter if I say something about you that you don't like, then maybe don't read. I avoid using names as much as possible, and would request that people who know me do the same in their comments. Basically, I often vent my frustrations on here, so if you happen to be someone who frustrates me, expect to read a description of someone very much like you in here!

Tuesday, May 17, 2005

The deEvolution of Man

See, here's something that puzzles me on a semi-constant basis. I'm pretty scared of death. Like, the concept honestly freaks me out, and I actually wonder if I'm suffering from depression as I tend to think about my own demise at least once a day. Scary, huh? I'm OK, it just freaks me.
But here's the thing: I believe that death is a God-instated consequence for our rebellion. We screwed up, we are now paying the price. I don't like it, but that's the way it is. However, if I was an athiest and believed all this was just a giant cosmic accident, I don't know that I'd be so accepting. Evolution is all about survivial of the fittest - and yet compared with 6000 odd years ago, we're not living so long. Why haven't the genetically strong "long livers" become the dominant portion of the human race? Anyway, this isn't the point, but is a good one none the less.

The point is this. We are all dying, and yet there are scientists dedicating their lives to developing a better rocket engine, or new technologies to make our TV's thinner, or our computers faster. If they really believe that this is all an accident, then there is NOTHING TO STOP US finding a way to stop ourselves from dying. If death isn't any kind of consequence - just a part of this giant accident that made life, then it is entirely preventable. Why isn't every scientist who possibly can working their butts off 24hrs a day, 7 days a week to find the way to prevent it? Do you get what I mean? If an atheist scientist really holds to the idea that this is it, and there's nothing after death, then how can they go though a day without trying to find the thing that makes us decay? It is inexplicable to me that someone could live like that. If it was me - if I didn't believe in a God who created all this, who we rebelled against, and I believed that my death was the end of my existance - I would be at uni studying biology and chemistry and genetics and anything else I could possibly learn to help me spend my life researching a way to extend my life, preferably indefinatley. I would forego anything and everything in the hope that there was a way that I could avoid death. And hey, if this is it, why wouldn't you? It would be the only thing you could do that would hold any true value.

I need to stop now, because although I like to be logical and composed, the thought of death does scare the crap out of me. I hold to the great hope that when I die I'll be with God thanks to Jesus and what he did for me, but I'm not as strong as I should be. I doubt, I fear and I worry. And it's so wrong, but I don't know how to get past it. So hey, I'll keep working on that. In the mean time, hopefully a few athiest scientists will have a think about why they're content to die meaningless deaths and hopefully see the reality of God and his creation. That's just my POV anyways.

More less-morbid bloggy goodness to come...

7 comments:

Grant said...

Funny you should mention this, I was either reading or hearing a scientist discussing the concept of death and the way our immune system stops working effectively after a period of time. The comparison give was between a child of ten who breaks their arm, and a man of thirty who does the same. While both breaks heal, it takes long er for the adult. They then went on to say that there is probably a switch in our DNA which "turns off" leading to ill health, aging and ultimately death. I'll see if I can find it for you, although it's doubtful.

Joel Baltaks said...

I remember my uncle telling this story to my class when I was little. He was on a fishing boat, and there was a storm getting worse and worse. Everyone thought they were going to die, and all the crew were getting more and more frightened. Buy my uncle said he was getting more and more excited - he was pumped that he was going to die and see his maker.

Well, they didn't die, but the story was cool because it is a different attitude to death. True, he didn't have a wife or kids - that would suck to leave them behind. But it's cool to know that we don't have to fear anyone who can destroy physically, but only who can destroy spiritually. God has defeated death!

Tam said...

I could be wrong (and proabaly am) but I thought scientists were working on ways to re-grow body parts for this reason? I read in New Scientist a while ago that they had worked out how to grow a human ear on the outside of a pig. Now I guess at first it's just an alternative to reconstruction surgery, but maybe it will lead to extending our life.
Personally, although I'm quite content with my life at the moment I don't think I'd want to live for a very long time. Maybe at first it would be a novelty, but think of all the changes that have happened in our grandparents lifetime. Most of the old people I know are happy to have an end relatively close because they find it hard to adjust to the changes occuring (granted, most of the old people I know are christians).
That being said I do want to live for a relatively long time, I just hope I'm dextorous enough to use a mouse and keyboard when I get old. I figure that broadband should be pretty cheap by that time and I will have a lot of spare time so I'm going to catch up on the gaming I missed out on when I was younger!

Justin Warner said...

Just on your point, Tam, I know there are scientists working on things like growing replacement organs and stuff, but see healthy people die of old age. It's not that their organs are sick - they just stop one day. My great grandmother died before I was born, but apparently she was healthy as they come, vacumming the floor, and her body just stopped. She was just old. Subsets of people have unhealthy hearts, or hereditary liver problems, but if you happen to miss out on all that, and live a healthy life, you will still die of old age.
I think it might be more acurate for me to say it puzzles me why every scientist (who doesn't believe in some form of afterlife at least) isn't finding the means to stop people growing old. It just seems a bit bizarre to me...

Nathan Zamprogno said...

Wow. Deep thinking. In turn...
Genetically "long lifers" have not risen to become more numerous than people with genetic predisposition to shorter life because the ability of a person to have long and healthy twilight years has a marginal, possibly nil effect on how many children they produce. Sure, some men have kids in their 70's, but no women do. Thus, longevity does not figure in Natural selection although it might in sexual selection (check the links for the Darwinian distinction between the two.)

The best story written about extreme long life is Heinlein's "Time Enough for Love", which is a personal favourite and I highly recommend (just behind Heinlein's "Starship Troopers", which is very philosophical and not as blam-blam as you'd think, and "Stranger in a Strange Land". If you haven't read Heinlein then do yourself a favour)

Next, I am sure that at some point in the next 50 years, we will grow to a full understanding of the biological mechanisms for aging. There is no one cause; most researchers acknowledge that multiple factors are at play- cell apoptosis, increases in cell replication errors, accumulations of tissue damage through toxins or radiation. This is mere science. We shouldn't be surprised if we are extended the prospect of vastly longer life before we ourselves would ordinarily die of old age, nor should we be faced with a crisis in our faith because we previously ascribed decay and aging as signs of Original Sin.

For me, such a scientific prospect doesn't fool me at all. No one lives forever. If I die at a thousand instead of ninety then I still die. Death is as permanent in either case. If all biological forms of morbidity are eradicated like aging or cancer, then all I'm guaranteeing myself is that I'll die of something else, like a car accident. It's those statistics, they always catch up with you.

So, it boils down to whether you'd prefer to have a well established "ramp down" period in your life, where you can confront your mortality and be quiet enough for a few years that you can pass on something to the young ones coming up under you, or whether you'd like to live indefinitely in a biologically young body, but certain in the knowledge that yes, you will still die, and probably abruptly as a result of some misadventure.

Me, I'd love to live for a thousand years, but I still want to grow old. Why? Because the length of human life isn't necessarily integral to God's plan, but the stages of human life I believe are central to what God planned. We have waypoints in our lives as babies, teens, adults and finally as old codgers which I think is central to our humanity. Dispensing with those stages sounds like arrested development to me, and not at all wise.

To answer Justin's conjecture as to why every atheist scientist isn't scrambling madly to find the fountain of youth: maybe it's because if atheists find the universe meaningless, then personal death and oblivion is equally meaningless. I mean, as an atheist, you're not trying to do a Faust and cheat eternal torment and damnation, all you're approaching is... nothingness. Rather, it would be the man who believes in God, a wrathful god whom he is sure will damn him, that has more to fear and will probably do anything to avoid death.

Lastly, Jus, don't be down about it. As Christians, not only do we have the assurance of an afterlife, but the prospect that it will be better, more exciting and complete than what we see here, "through a glass, darkly". You and I will go when we're called upward. Those left behind will grieve, to be sure, but you're merely the living end of a chain stretching back a long, long way. They all died, we will too. Hopefully, maybe, not for a thousand years. Maybe we can test some infinite loop theories while we're at it!

Joel Baltaks said...

A few years ago a lecturer at uni told everyone in the lecture that they'd most likely live past 100 years old. His reasoning was that in the last few decades, the average lifespan in our society has increased considerably, and extrapolating that curve shows the average lifespan should continue to increase. Chances are, in another 50 years there will be many medical developments to cure us when we're getting old.

Justin Warner said...

Well yes. Nathan, your comments are as intresting as always.

However, I have to say that when I get afraid of death, it's purely for the reason that I begin to doubt that I will continue to exist beyond it. Nothingness, and the idea of a transition into it, is INCREADIBLY scary to me. This is why the question - I cannot see how anyone who firmly believes that there's nothingness after death can walk calmly into it. The end of your existance is fine and dandy? I couldn't handle that...