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Biotech Science

Live to be 1000 Years Old? 1120

An anonymous reader writes "The BBC has a long article by wonderfully be-whiskered Aubrey de Grey of SENS (Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence) on how we may all live to be 1,000 years old... as this is the balanced BBC they are also running the opposing view."
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Live to be 1000 Years Old?

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  • by Dr Reducto ( 665121 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:02PM (#10988686) Journal
    I personally would rather live 50 good, full years, and die gracefully, than live 1000 years dependent on all sorts of pills and not really living life.
  • Not a good idea (Score:2, Insightful)

    by truz24 ( 800762 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:02PM (#10988690)
    There is a reason for people dying when they do. There would be major overpopulation if people were to live that long...
  • Yah but.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by A5un ( 586681 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:03PM (#10988709)
    Can we have eternal youth as well?
  • by eln ( 21727 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:04PM (#10988717)
    Is there any documentary or archaeological evidence, outside of the Bible itself, to support this claim? I'm not trying to troll or anything, but before we use a single dubious source as a basis for determining what may or may not be scientifically feasible, we may want to look for more evidence.
  • by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:04PM (#10988721) Homepage
    I wouldn't want to live to be 1000. That last century you spend in a nursing home probably would Suck with a capital "S".

    Seriously, given the likelyhood of an accident getting you, imagine the sort of life people would have to live to average living to 1000. Even if you could offer people a constant youthful physique and extreme longevity, how many of us are really going to make it to even 200? Unless you live your entire life underground in a room with little windows, never venturing forth into the world, something's going to get you. While this means that a huge number of /.'ers are relatively safe, the rest of us are still going to get ourselves killed going over the handlebar on our bikes or crashing our cars or walking in front of a bus or hitting trees skiing or etc.

    Aside from that, try to imagine the social, scientific and political stagnation that would occur from having old people not dying. Try to picture the economic devestation among young people (you think following the boomers sucks...), the lock-in of power among a few Very Oldsters... If people do start living to 1000, I think our real duty would be to start hunting them.

  • by CommanderData ( 782739 ) * <kevinhi&yahoo,com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:05PM (#10988732)
    ...when this technology is developed? Will it be shared freely with every person on the planet, or will you have to be one of the wealthy elite of a first-world-nation in order to be immortal? If the treatment is universally shared, what will be done about overpopulation of the planet? With birthrates where they are now, and no one dying of old age we'll need to move billions of people into space.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:06PM (#10988740)
    Ah the Bible.. one of my favorite science fiction stories.
  • by Tibor the Hun ( 143056 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:07PM (#10988763)
    I didn't read the article, of course, but would you really want to be slaving away for so long, feeding the upper class?
    Or how many losses could you cope with? Imagine that your significant other dies in a crash, 50 years later your child is killed, and another one commits suicide? And then your second significant other leaves you.
    I dunno, maybe I'm too pessimistic, but it's not all rosy if everyone can live that long...
  • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:08PM (#10988778) Homepage
    As someone who has already put 40 full years behind him, I'd liek to see another 960, thank you very much.
  • by merdaccia ( 695940 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:09PM (#10988785)
    does he plan to put 50 billion people?
  • by Julian Morrison ( 5575 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:09PM (#10988799)
    To demonstrate this, please commit suicide.

    Well, isn't that what you're asking everyone else to do, by wilfully forgoing life-extension technology?
  • by mcg1969 ( 237263 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:12PM (#10988828)
    While I am certain that this post is going to invite many a troll, the Bible is not the only ancient text to document extended life spans. That's not to say they're not all blowing smoke, but it's not out of the question that some sort of significant cosmological or climatological shift might have contributed to shortening our natural lifespan.
  • by Swamii ( 594522 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:12PM (#10988839) Homepage
    I personally would rather live 50 good, full years, and die gracefully, than live 1000 years dependent on all sorts of pills and not really living life.

    $20 says Dr. Reducto will change his mind at 49. Any takers?
  • Re:Not a good idea (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angela@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:13PM (#10988849) Journal
    There is a reason for people not flying.

    There is a reason for people not being able to see well.

    There is a reason people can't communicate with each other over long distances.

    Just because something has been a certain way, doesn't mean it's SUPPOSED to be that way. Sometimes, things just are the way they are. That is, until they change.

    Should the technology become available, you don't have to extend your life. You can live without all this fancy technology. BTW - you don't go to the hospital and stuff, do you? There is a reason for people dying from diseases, after all, and curing them would be unnatural and wrong.
  • by Washizu ( 220337 ) <> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:14PM (#10988871) Homepage
    Think of the Matlock ratings!

  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:17PM (#10988915) Journal
    Not as far as I know.

    For some reason, the Bible often seems at odds with the findings of archaeologists, historians, geologists and science in general.
  • Re:Yah but.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by Saige ( 53303 ) <evil.angela@gm[ ].com ['ail' in gap]> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:17PM (#10988920) Journal
    Of course. Aging is the process of the body breaking down, and if they cure aging, it's going to mean that your body stays in it's prime for a not longer. It doesn't mean we're going to spend 1000 years getting more and more frail - because people COULDN'T live 1000 years doing so, the body would fall apart completely before then.

    I don't see why everyone assumes that extending lifespans by huge amounts would result in extending just the tail end over that time. Damn Tithonus Syndrome. []
  • Larry Niven (Score:5, Insightful)

    by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:18PM (#10988938) Homepage
    Sounds like you've been reading Larry Niven. He has some good stories on this subject, save that the oldest people in his stories have only lived about 300 years.

    But your argument applies to any other radical change in human lifestyle. The agracultural revolution shifted the balance of power putting a few landowners in charge of large numbers of farm workers. The industrial revolution shifted the power to a few rich industrialists in charge of large numbers of factory workers. Etc... Every time we change the way we live the old order is upset and we have to adapt. We'll adapt to this change if it ever comes about. That's what we do best (besides blather constantly).

    And yes, most people would not live to be 1000. The human life expectancy in many places is 75 years and most people do not make it that far. But does that mean we shouldn't try?
  • by RealProgrammer ( 723725 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:18PM (#10988943) Homepage Journal
    Yeah, right.

    This reminds me of a guy wanting to attract grants. Except for the ... no, I will take the high road.

    There is SO much that goes wrong with the human body as it ages. He predicts in effect that in the next 10 years we'll simultaneously find cures for two maladies that appear to be universal: Alzheimers and cancer.

    The statistics on prostate cancer for men and breast cancer for women are such that if you live long enough, you are assured of getting them. The only variable is age of onset.

    The same is true for Alzheimer's. Live long enough, and you'll get it.

    1000 years? Let's try 130 first.
  • by RatBastard ( 949 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:21PM (#10988996) Homepage
    What is easier to beleive: that the climat has somehow changed resulting in the massive shortening of our lifespands, or that people have always longed to live longer? There is no archilogical evidense to support the idea that people lived longer than they do now. There is a lot of litterary evidense that shows that many people wish to live longer than they do.
  • by Tony Hoyle ( 11698 ) <> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:21PM (#10989002) Homepage
    Nope... ancient texts aren't scientific journals - we shouldn't read them with our modern spectacles and expect them to adhere to our rules.

    It was common in ancient times to extend lifespans of rules/important people to emphasize their status - in fact some of the lifespans around 1/2 kings actually overlap somewhat because of this.

    Also remember that the lifespans of the earliest characters in the bible (whether written as myth or aurally transmitted until written, or both) may not even have been known. eg. if only 5 people allegedly survived the flood (and no library :P), then it only takes one of those to forget a detail or two and it's gone forever.
  • Well, yeah. (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Skyshadow ( 508 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:22PM (#10989012) Homepage
    Am I saying death is a good idea? Well, yeah. I am.

    If you think about it, the success of all life on this planet is predicated on the fact that, sooner or later, it dies. This necessitates the ability to reproduce, and reproduction is the key to evolution.

    I don't just mean genetic evolution here, either. The advancement of human civilization has always been about the next generation surpassing the accomplishment of their parents. Science, philosophy, economics, art -- you name it. The progress we as a species have made have always come from the student looking at what has been accomplished before them and saying "That's great, but what if..."

    Aside from the obvious population issues, allowing people (or far worse, some people) to outlive Methusela poses a very real danger of short-circuiting this vital process. Understand, this is what has worked for eons -- ever since your ancestors and mine decided to gang up and be more than free-floating amino acids, this is the way it's been. Ask yourself: is your own inflated sense of self-importance worth short-circuiting that?

    I'd rather die knowing my descendants would someday achieve things beyond my imagining than live and help ensure that they don't.

  • by b-lou ( 175661 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:22PM (#10989021)

    Although there's science involved here, the real question is a philosophical one, as other comments have touched upon. I think the topic begs great big questions like, "What is the purpose of life?" To learn? To experience? Most humans piddle away their meager seventy years, and when it's time to go they realize all the things they should have said and done but... it's too late.

    Humans don't need to live longer, they need to live better.

    If humans lived to be 1,000 years old:

    • Acceptable age for active military duty would be 18 to 300.
    • Retirement age would be 850.
    • Social Security? Hah!
    • People could be married and divorced 20 times or more in one life.
    • They'd see approximately 430 upgrades to WindowsXP.
    • ...(you fill in the blank)
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:24PM (#10989053) Homepage Journal
    Well, I am going to bet that a large part ofmy position is because I am an able-bodied 18 year old male,


    but I see older people with all their problems and I can't stand the thought of relying on pills to keep me alive.

    And yet people do take pills to stay alive; obviously, for them, living with the infirmities of age is better than not living at all.

    Nobody is talking about forcing people to stay alive against their will. If you depend on a pill to stay alive, you can always stop taking it -- and generally, if you really want to die, you can always find a way to do so. (Yes, even if you're bedridden or quadriplegic; there are a lot of medically assisted suicides going on, all the time, no matter what the law says about it.) But most people want all the time they can possibly get, and I suspect you will too.
  • Aside from that, try to imagine the social, scientific and political stagnation that would occur from having old people not dying. Try to picture the economic devestation among young people (you think following the boomers sucks...), the lock-in of power among a few Very Oldsters... If people do start living to 1000, I think our real duty would be to start hunting them.

    I think the long term result would be the exact opposite. On the surface yes, what you suggest would happen, but consider the OTHER implications of 1000 year old politicians... No longer would pollution, poor city planning, etc be a problem for their grandchildren/successors. Each and every person would have to spend at least 900 years living with the consequences of their decisions. Also, consider how boring it would be to be a senator for a thousand years. I would wager that most "career" politicans would retire after about as long as they do now, simply out of boredom. 60 or 70 years of income gives a pretty sound basis for a 900 year retirement just as much so as for a 20 year retirement.
  • by Daniel Dvorkin ( 106857 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:27PM (#10989097) Homepage Journal
    You know, I really suspect that when Og the caveman first figured out how to light a fire, his buddy Thag bitched about this dangerous new technology because he was afraid Og's fire would burn up his prized collection of mammoth hides. Meanwhile, the rest of the tribe said, "Hey, now we can keep our caves warm!"

    Every technological advance brings with it the potential for danger and social change. There are real, hard questions which must be answered. But for myself, I'd rather have the opportunity to answer those questions with some real-world experience ...
  • by Blue-Footed Boobie ( 799209 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:34PM (#10989228)
    Wait, how have lifespans been decreasing?? In the past 200+ years, lifespans have gone up considerably. Guess this means we are shedding sin, to use your logic.
  • by DanteBlack ( 656808 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:41PM (#10989314)
    The ramifications of everyone living to be 1000 years old seem extreme because it's such a huge jump. If this is reached a s a progression it becomes more managable. Consider that if everyone starts living to be 100 and then to 200 and so on. The gradual progression would teach us how to deal with the implications, population and otherwise.

    Science is often faced with an odd host of moral/ethical questions. Equaly often the question of 'Can we do it?' is answered before 'Should we do it?' Nuclear weaponry is a great example, specificly the application of.

    In the 1940's we proved that we can construct a weapon capable of intense destrctive power. Then we used it. At the time it might have been the action that we should take to help end WWII. And it did help. In retrospect, 60 years later, we struggle with whether we should have used them.

    Living to be 1000 years old sounds very cool, right now the question is 'Can we?' soon though 'Should we?'. I think the answer will be yes, but I think there will be a gradual approach to reaching the goal, limited both by available technology and social climate.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:44PM (#10989357)
    I personally would rather live 50 good, full years, and die gracefully, than live 1000 years dependent on all sorts of pills and not really living life.

    How exactly does pill-dependency preclude "living life?"

    I mean, if it takes you ten minutes a day to swallow all your pills...hell, if it takes you a full hour a day to get them all still have plenty of time leftover to "live life."
  • by MysteriousPreacher ( 702266 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:45PM (#10989366) Journal
    Yep, mostly stuff that I've read or discussed with others.

    The Bible is an interesting historical record but many of its stories and events are simply as believably as Zeus turning in to a swan. Here are some examples.

    People rising from the grave and asccending in to heaven
    (Not something normally seen. Particularly since no-one has seen heaven)

    Walking on water
    (Most people believe this impossible)

    The world being created within the last 6000 years or so. (Geology and the fossil record contradict this.)

    The devil, angels and God.
    (supernatural beings. No evidence of their existence)

    People turning in to salt
    (I've not read the Bible for about 6 months so I'm hazy on this. Perhaps this is meant to be symbolic or perhaps it's like that episode of Star Trek when the crew of a a ship are drained of water).

    Now all of these events may have happened but since they are all miraculous, thge burden of proof rests with those who claim that they are true. Simple rules of science tell me that it's highly improbable that any of these events occured.

    Of course, it is possible that these are all metaphors or something like that.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:51PM (#10989472)
    If the treatment is universally shared, what will be done about overpopulation of the planet?

    You can't just make matter. Where does the matter of a couple billion extra people come from? Well, the food they eat. If people keep breeding, starvation will keep them in check until people start to wise up. ...we'll need to move billions of people into space.

    We can't just move everyone into space. That's not even close to practical.
  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:51PM (#10989483) Homepage Journal
    ... will you have to be one of the wealthy elite of a first-world-nation in order to be immortal?

    If you have to ask how much it costs, you can't afford it. If the ``developing'' nations clean up their corruption, they'll be first-world-nations soon enough, even with our present lifespans.

    If the treatment is universally shared, what will be done about overpopulation of the planet? With birthrates where they are now ...

    If only the rich can afford it, there won't be any overpopulation problems. Right now, the birthrates in the first world nations are below the replacement rate, including the U.S., where we have enough first generation immigrants from the third world to keep us at a TFR of 2.0 (2003 data, slightly below replacement rate of 2.1).

    The sure way to defuse the population bomb is to eradicate disease and poverty. The sure way to do that is to replace corruption with the rule of law. Free-er countries have [] less poverty [].

  • by NotoriousQ ( 457789 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:55PM (#10989532) Homepage
    Either that or somebody is certainly trying to make the time span managed in the book.

    I mean a couple of billion years has fit in about 5 days. Speaking of which,, the whole idea of T-Rex/ evolution that a lot of cristians find contradictory to the bible does not have to contradict at all. The bible said that animals were created in one day. It does not say how. And it could have been a long day. The only direct reference is sculping adam out of clay (IIRC) and making eve out of a rib...that does not make much sense, but even christians agree that bible is full of metaphors. Taking it as the exact literal truth is not correct.

    Speaking of god's increased precision, as the time passes... Is it just me or is god exponentially decreasing in time and scope.
  • by geg81 ( 816215 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:56PM (#10989549)
    Care to elaborate or are you just repeating what you heard from someone, somewhere, once.

    If you believe in the Bible, then it is clear that you are "just repeating what you heard from someone, somewhere, once". Because if there is anything clear about the Bible, it's that it's a pretty random collection of documents, from unknown authors, with unknown hangups and superstitions. And you are just repeating that crap.
  • by SuperKendall ( 25149 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:56PM (#10989559)
    I see an awful lot of "But living that long would suck" posts.

    I think this question is a great illuminator of which side of the pessimistic/optimistic divide you fall on. If you are fundamentally a pessimist, how better to draw that out that to give you a scenario where you are free to imagine the worst that can happen - stretched to over 1000 years!!!

    Myself, I think it would be fantastic and fully expect to live to be 200 at least, due to advancement in technology. And not in a creepy Davros [] half-human mechanised wheelchair kind of way either. More like the 80-year old woman I met climbing a fourteener when I'm 800 or so.

    What would I do with so much time? Well, imagine for a start what savings would mean - right now people save up for "retirement" - which then lasts a short time (relativley) and near the end of life.

    Instead imagine a world where you spend 100 years working on something you like (and you could take a lot more time to find something you like without having to settle down before you were thirty or so), then perhaps take the next 100 years (!) off just living on savings accumulated! If you are thrifty the first hundred you could probably live off the interest indefinatley. Just recently I read a story about a janitor that managed to save up enough to donate a few MILLION dollors to the school he worked at.

    But I'm avoiding the initial question - what to do with all that time? What wouldn't I do!! Finally time enough to finish the vast backlog of books I have to read. Or play piano better. Or try five or six other interesting carreers in depth. Basically, if you have a mind that finds the world interesting then what wouldn't you do? I have a cousin right now that does this on a Micro scale, working for some time until he's accumulated enough money - then taking a year (or as long as possible) off to do what he loves.

    With a potential lifespan so long some people seem to think that people would become terriby risk adverse and never venture forth for fear of wasting life. But in fact do not people grow far more cautious as they get older? With life stretched to 1000 years, then the first two-hundred or so would be more like your twenties when you were brash and did risky things.

    Furthermore, people overlook the VAST benefit you would get from people living so long and having such a depth of knowlege. It would provide a perfect offset for a world overly focused on the moment, and less on the "Long Now" (if anyone out there has not read "The Clock of the Long Now", they should).
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:58PM (#10989586)
    are you actually worrying about the teeming millions from third world (or isn't it 'emergent countries' these days?) overrunning your patch? don't you watch the news? I mean, what exactly are the odds of dying of old age outside of closely guarded circle of 'wealthy elite of the first-world-nations' which you mention? I don't think that having or not access to anti-ageing technology will make much difference for these guys...
  • by tepples ( 727027 ) <{tepples} {at} {}> on Friday December 03, 2004 @02:59PM (#10989592) Homepage Journal

    And copyright would last forever.

  • by Samrobb ( 12731 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:00PM (#10989602) Homepage Journal
    For some reason, the Bible often seems at odds with the findings of archaeologists, historians, geologists and science in general.
    History (no pun intended) has shown that the New Testament can be regarded as an accurate historical document. Luke, in particular, has proven himself a better and more critical historian than a lot of more honored contemporaries. Geisler & Nix, in A General Introduction to the Bible [], summarize some of the "known innacuracies" in Luke that have been proven true thanks to new archaelogical evidence being uncovered.

    IIRC, they didn't go into quite as much detail on Old Testament authenticity, though they did cover it to some extent; and from what I remember, there is at least a grudging admission from most archaelogists that as time goes by, new discoveries tend to confirm, rather than disprove, the historical authenticity of the OT.

    My point is that rejection of the Bible's extrordinary claims does not neccessitate rejection of it's un-extraordinary claims. Even if you think most of the authors of the Bible were cluelss mumps for believing in God, you can at lest look at the Bible and treat it as a historical document that has shown itslef to be accurate to some degree. Whether or not you consider the Bible accurate enough that you would base a professional opinion on it's contents is an entirely different issue.

  • by DMadCat ( 643046 ) <dmadcat AT moondans DOT com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:06PM (#10989693)
    What no one here seems to have taken into account is when the Bible was written.

    The beginning books were written well after the lives of the central figures (i.e. Adam and Eve and their direct descendents). Also, they weren't immediately set to paper (papyrus, stone, whatever they used to write on) as soon as they were first related. Word of mouth was the most likely way in which these early tales were related.

    Anyone who has ever participated in the grade school experiment of whispering a story around a classroom only to hear a completely different version of the story come out at the end will understand what word of mouth does to tales related in such a fashion.

    Also you must remember that once the Bible's tales were written down they weren't yet "canonized" and conflicting versions were bandied about. Gaining the favor of the nobility whose money paid for the first written copies of the Bible was a huge factor in determining how the Bible would be interpreted and what would be included as canon.

    No information can possibly be taken as truth that has such a dubious history.
  • by RealAlaskan ( 576404 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:07PM (#10989700) Homepage Journal
    In Genesis 9:3, right after Noah et al get off the ark, God says "Every moving thing that liveth shall be meat for you; even as the green herb have I given you all things." Up till then all they'd eaten was plants, and some believe that applied to the animals until then too.

    Genesis 1:29-30 would imply that last part. I don't understand why God made an earth that is so clearly billions of years old, and made it around 6,000 years ago. Fortunately, our salvation doesn't depend on getting that straight.

    I happen to believe the Bible ...

    We don't have to worry quite so much about how long we're going to live as the folks who don't.

  • Cain and Able (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Latent Heat ( 558884 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:12PM (#10989781)
    I thought the deal with Cain and Able was that Cain offered a sacrifice of grain and fruit while Able offered a sacrifice from the flock of sheep he was tending. Able's sacrifice was preferred so Cain got angry and murdered Able.

    Sacrifice is tied into the consumption of food -- you don't offer sacrifice of something you are not eating. Able had to have been eating meat. You may need to check with other Bible commentators on how to understand Genesis 9:3.

    I tend to view human prehistory as divided into hunter-gatherer, cereal grain agriculture, and domesticated animal (pastoral) phases. Genesis, among other things, is about the emergence of Jewish people as a pastoral culture from out a cereal grain society in what is now Iraq.

    The emergence of cereal grain agriculture is what allowed Egypt one one hand, Ur, Summer, Akad, Babylon, or whatever those dudes in Iraq called themselves long ago on the other, to build their pioneering civilizations. I don't know all of the mechanics of this but while grain ag allowed an expansion of the population and a more reliable food supply, it resulted in a rather top-down society with these kings lording it over people and the common people eating a less nutritious diet of grain instead of lean meat. Yeah, yeah, a vegan diet is supposed to prevent cancer and heart disease, but the bone records show that the serfs in grain culture had poorer health than the hunter-gatherer peoples preceding them.

    Maybe the deal is that when you planted a crop, you had to stay put, and you needed some kind of king/Mafia boss type to protect you from raiders, and you had to pay that king some kind of tithe.

    The emergence of the Jewish people from that substrate, well how do I describe it, it was a kind of an independence movement, but it was a kind of "get back to nature" movement. Sheep and goat herding introduced economy of scale into reproducing the diet (meat, cheese) of the original hunter-gatherers. I guess with the pastoral culture 1) you had a much richer diet, 2) you had security of your food supply, and 3) you could move around and not require the protection of some king.

    The pastoral culture has all kinds of positive reference in the Bible, ranging from Abel's sacrifice being preferred to Cain and Cain taking matters into his own hands (probably relates to the inherent tension from between the cereal-grain civilizations and the pastoral tribes not under their thrall) all the way to our Lord calling himself the "Good Shepherd" in the Gospel of John.

  • by TheLink ( 130905 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:13PM (#10989786) Journal
    Uh not exactly.

    It's more like this [] (Gen 5).

    Then in Gen 6: "1 When men began to increase in number on the earth and daughters were born to them, 2 the sons of God saw that the daughters of men were beautiful, and they married any of them they chose. 3 Then the LORD said, "My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal ; his days will be a hundred and twenty years."

    Then after that was the flood and the tower of babel, and the lifespans declined [] (Gen 11).

    Though 120 years was stated to be the max - a number of people in the Bible did live a bit longer than that (even post-Flood).

    It is interesting that 120 years appears to still be the current max for modern humans.

    BTW you can probably breed for longer lifespan if each generation of creatures were only allowed to reproduce later and later in their life spans. But there could be trade-offs especially if you are not careful and just breed for lifespan.

    Maybe you could live to 1000 years with some future tech, but I wonder what the cost would be.

    Previously even if you were rich, you'd die not that long after the poorer folk (excluding the really really poor). Whereas, if the tech costs a fair bit, the rich could live to 1000 years, but the poor to 90 max. If you think unbridled capitalism creates imbalances and polarization, this would be even more so.

    Also the evil could rule for millenia... Sure the good could too, but what are the odds... AFAIK most of the good people don't really have such a strong drive to _rule_ over their fellow people. Once in a while you do get benevolent dictators, but...
  • I think I agree. If I could see it coming a hundred years in advance I would probably do something spectacular too.
  • by WaterBreath ( 812358 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:17PM (#10989854)
    An interesting idea, but it isn't really even supported by scripture. If you look at the ages recorded in the Bible, after the flood people began dying at progressively younger ages. Noah was the oldest person to die after the flood, and every generation death-age decreased by about 75 to 80 years. So by your logic, these people would have to be repeatedly redefining the term "year" to slightly longer periods of time.
  • Population (Score:3, Insightful)

    by chiller2 ( 35804 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:18PM (#10989857) Homepage
    Those raising the point of population problems are assuming that the norm of having children in your 20s and 30s will continue.

    Why would you tie yourself down with children at that age if you can live ten times as long?
  • by SubliminalLove ( 646840 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:29PM (#10990017)
    60 or 70 years of income gives a pretty sound basis for a 900 year retirement just as much so as for a 20 year retirement.

    If that were true, you'd only ever have to make enough money to pay back taxes on what you got from your parents when they died. Let's say you make $100,000/year for 60 years. That's $6,000,000. Let's say that you save enough and get a high enough return on investments that you retire with about 20% of that value saved. $1,200,000 is your retirement nest egg. That is not enough to live on indefinately. And this was ignoring all the taxes you'd have to pay, etc.

    Second problem, and probably the bigger one (since at some point you really can save up enough money to live on interest payments). Wealth cannot be represented by dollars alone. If everyone retires at age 150 and lives to age 1500, then 90% of the population won't be working. That means that 10% of the population has to generate goods and services sufficient to provide the wealth necessary to support and entertain the rest. This might be possible with technology improving worker efficiency, but it doesn't seem terribly likely.

  • Dude.. (Score:3, Insightful)

    by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:40PM (#10990171) Homepage
    I'd love to live for 1000 years. Think of all the cool stuff you could do and experience! Course, it'd be even more fun if everyone else wasn't living to 1000. ;-)

    Still, though.. you could fail over and over and have the time to learn to do it right. Or, just give up on this hectic modern concept of life and just become a wander for, say, 80 years. You could do all sorts of great things. Think long term. Produce works of art impossible to do any other way. Imagine a painting by a master that took, say, 50 years just to complete--because it was an entire city! That master could produce many of them--and they'd be LARGE scale projects. Business would have a much longer and more stable outlook. Quick reactions would be frowned upon and instead, careful consideration would be rewarded. These would all be great improvements, I think.
  • by danheskett ( 178529 ) <danheskett&gmail,com> on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:48PM (#10990274)
    Either that or somebody is certainly trying to make the time span managed in the book.
    Most of the Old Testament was written after hundreds of years of oral history. Pass a story down that many times and exaggerations and liberalizations are bound to happen.

    I mean a couple of billion years has fit in about 5 days.
    Most Christians do not believe that the Old Testament is the literal truth. For example, Catholics believe that the history of the world is divided into two logical sections: before Christ, and after (and during) Christ. The before Christ peoples of the earth required preperation for the coming according to the teachings of the Church. The Old Testament contains amoug other things the history of the people of the covenant as well as laws to prepare for the coming. When Catholics - as well as many other Christian faiths - read the Old Testament it is much like reading a historical source in a US History class. The old documents inform and shape current perspective but are applicable directly.

    This is important. This is why for most Christian faiths it is not a contradiction to disregard the Old Testament laws of the Jewish faith - keeping kosher, etc. Those laws were supplanted by the laws of the New Testament which vary between more liberal and more strict.

    So to directly answer your question: the creation story is parable to most Christian faiths. Everything in the bible is not literally true (Example: "The mountains will sing and trees will dance" is a metaphor). The Old Testament is a history of pre-Christian people, their laws, customs, and beliefs. It is formatory but not essential to the bulk of Christian faiths.

    I hope this has helped you understand a bit better how the big picture of the Bible and scientific truth match-up in many Christian minds!
  • by BigZaphod ( 12942 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @03:54PM (#10990362) Homepage
    Well, the Bible is not just one work written by one person or even one lone culture, really. It is already a collection of old documents. They are just packaged up together. So, in a way, the Bible represents more than one source already.
  • Right to Die (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dprust ( 316840 ) * on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:05PM (#10990507)
    The author says we have a right to die. Is this normal in Europe? In America, we don't have a right to die at all. We have to suffer till the very end, no matter how much we might want to die.
  • by Seanasy ( 21730 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:09PM (#10990563)
    However, when they sinned, and sin was introduced into creation, sin began corrupting everything and introduced death into nature.

    So, Jesus came to take away our sins. Therefore, every baptised Christian is immortal?

  • by arasinen ( 22038 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:15PM (#10990652)
    The near-immortality proposed by the article is truly fascinating. It is hard to even imagine the scale of changes brought by 1000 year lifespan. Quite a few comments here concentrate on individuals and the rest on the society and they bring up some good points. What really interests me, however, is what happens to families.

    Relationships grow as people grow. It is quite mindbogging to think about a relationship with a century of common history.

    1. Sex. There'd be ten times as much. That would probably finally reveal us if it is possible to get bored of sex.

    2. Marriage. The institution of marriage is already slowly losing the status it has had in the recent years. It seems difficult to find a mate for 50 years -- imagine the difficulties in finding a partner for 500! One possibility is that marriages become short-term only, ie. you get married for 20, 30, 50 years at a time. This leads to ...

    3. Children. Obviously you can't go on spawning children every 10 years. The population explosion would be more like a population supernova. A child would be a very very rare occurence. It wouldn't be inconcievable that marriages would be only granted for the express purpose of having a child and raising it into adulthood.
  • Re:Dude.. (Score:2, Insightful)

    by dannannan ( 470647 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:25PM (#10990770)

    Consider, for a moment, that this is already possible through procreation and has been going on for thousands of years. One way of reading the article is as a challenge to our concept of identity.

    A lot more than 80 years of wandering has been done by our collective human identity. Entire cities built over hundreds or thousands of years already do exist.

    Who told us that our identity is limited to one pile of gray mush conditioned by a single set of attached sensory inputs? That is a weak identity that can be destroyed by a snake bite, a misplaced step, or disease. 1,000 extra years doesn't alleviate any problems with this since it's only a drop in the bucket of time.

    A stronger identity is a collective one that carries through generations of people. Identity is preserved through the spirit that you pass on to the next generation. Teaching, sharing, and fellowship all serve to pass on the identity. There is also the darker side passed on through selfishness, hate, and war.

    In the end, the stronger sense of identity will prevail. Pass on a good spirit to the next generation. By paying kindness and proper attention to those around you -- especially children -- you are doing far more to preserve a good identity than 1,000 extra years in a "mortal coil" could ever afford.


    P.S. In keeping with the spirit of collective identity, keep those machines patched and up to date!

  • by kasuga ( 204770 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @04:38PM (#10990905)
    Control this information.. you control the world. Think about threatening to not ship peoples life extending drugs to a country that is being "bad".. Wow, that would have some quick results.. Or if not, then you could just wait until they die, talk to the new guys.. Easy..
    As with other self marketing drugs today, I imagine copies would soon be developed
  • by robertjw ( 728654 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @05:04PM (#10991246) Homepage
    There is enough weird stuff going on in the Bible to make long lifespans seem... normal. Why do we have to seek a rational explanation for this? It's not like long lifespans are the single 'deal-breaker' for skeptics.

    I agree COMPLETELY. I believe we should attempt to understand the Bible to the best of our ability, but why this constant need to rationalize it as something that fits our modern way of thinking.

    According to the Bible this world was created by an omnipotent being that can do anything he wants. If you believe that, the whole book is palatable. If you don't, then the whole book is nonsense made up by a bunch of desert people who had fried brains. Personally I don't see a need to rationalize random parts of it, just because we couldn't possibly explain it with modern science.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Friday December 03, 2004 @05:27PM (#10991501)

    A study which was in the press earlier this year suggests that the 'finite eggs in ovaries' orthodoxy might be incorrect.... First relevant google result was this [].

    If we're effectively immortal, though cripples, we've still got a fair bit of time to figure out solutions to those other issues as we go along.

  • by NotoriousQ ( 457789 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @05:39PM (#10991627) Homepage
    You grouped two unrelated statements.

    There are a lot of christians who believe that evolution is not plausible under the bible. I challenge that fact. The fact that they take the other point does not make me think that they know less of their religion.

    What makes me think the second statement is not all that false, is that I keep bringing up various contradictions, many of which have perfectly good answers. And people either yell on me for making them consider such unholy thoughts, or just not be able to answer that.

    The ones that get annoyed, I have disrespect for. What is the point of believeing in something, if you do not know what you believe in. Note that this is different than asking WHY you believe in something.

    The questions that I ask are 'simple' things. Why are they eating crab, when bible says do not eat crab. If the old testament was overpowered by the new one, then how does one pick which laws survived. (a quick jab at the gay issue). Why do some of the biblical characters took multiple wives. Why is not ok to kill, but ok to go to war.

    Now granted I am displaying the fact that I have no clue about christianity, outside of a few things I have seen before. But the believers are supposed to be to some extent the experts on the matter.

    The answer I respect the most, when a person is stumped by the question:
    1. Pull out a bible, check the facts, become confused by the conflicting information.
    2. Tell me that they will check with someone who can explain.
    3. Get back to me.

    This goes for all religions.

    The best answer I have had yet.
    I was discussing some kosher laws with a jewish guy, and he got confused by something poorly specified there (chicken and milk, since chicken does not produce milk). He asked a rabbi, who gave him a poor, and unsatisfactory answer. The guy was unhappy with the answer, told me he is going to ask someone else. A few days later I had a call inviting me to some other rabbi for lunch and research. That rabbi has opened up a bunch of books (Talmud, I think was one of them), and was seeing why the rule is the case. Turns out that kosher laws have a tradition of avoiding a slippery slope, and if an interpretation is chosen, then things that are not even covered by interpretation, but very similar may be disallowed. I think that he quoted some rabbis in the 15th century, who have observed something about people using (I think) rice on passover, which is not strictly forbidden by the laws, and then these people ended up mixing grain in, if the rice was not plentiful enough to feed the people, etc. It was a better answer than I wished for, and more than I can remember. Yet I think that this is how one should believe in religion. Know what it says, and if it does not say it, know why.

    Most people only think they know what they believe in. Those that try to know more, have my respect.
  • by Speare ( 84249 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @05:59PM (#10991866) Homepage Journal
    Um, Isaac Asimov was an authority on many different topics. He's the only author to have published into EVERY Dewey library category. I think his non-fiction works outnumbered his fiction works, and certainly not even all of the fiction works were futuristic in nature.
  • by geekotourist ( 80163 ) on Friday December 03, 2004 @06:15PM (#10992043) Journal
    Nevermind 1,000 for now- lets just look at if an average of 150 was possible (22% more than the current record for documented oldest person, 100% more than today. Not a giant leap. Humanity has handled a 100% leap before.) If the wealthy elite care about making it past 150 they'll be using a decent fraction of their riches to hand out extended lifespans to everyone else. You can recover from a dip in net worth. Death in the pandemic of 2071 isn't so fixable. Why the pandemic?

    We know if teenagers think they're likely to die early (violent neighborhood, say) or they're unlikely to have a family (because they die early / other reasons), then they often live risky lives w/ short planning horizons. Even if its causing a feedback loop, it is rational behavior if, in fact, the local average lifespan is low.

    Ditto for a sense of control and ownership of your health / home / public spaces and "the commons." If they aren't "defensible," that is, your hard work to protect them is easily ruined by external factors, then rationally you don't put much time into taking care of them. (Note that a "commons" meant that multiple people had predictable control over an area: outsiders couldn't arbitrarily ruin them.)

    So even now we know we shouldn't have neighborhoods / countries / regions where most people think their lifespan is half of the worldwide average, or that they can't control their health or local environment. Their rational behavior can change their health / environment for the worse (nevermind the problem of angry hopeless young men and wars / violence). Pollution spreads. Epidemics spread. It is in everyone's best interest for all people to think that they're all on the same bell curve with regards to health, lifespan, the environment... for everyone to think and live as if they can make it to their 70's.

    Of course currently it isn't true: many countries have significantly lower average life expectancies (even without childhood mortality in the mix). But it doesn't take much to change that: once countries hit a per capita GDP around $2000 then average lifespans get into the 60s to 70s. (Clean water, immunizations, basic access to clinics and medical knowledge). Once women have education and job opportunities birthrates go way down (education isn't the only factor, but the most significant one)

    So lets say we can fix Aubrey's big 7 problems (see below) [] and can expect to reach 150. These aren't overwhelmingly complex solutions. Molecules can be copied: labs are getting cheaper. Science has always been more bazaar than cathedral, and with the internet open-source biology is even easier.

    It may be for the most part "sharing" won't be relevant. We'll be "participating," so will most other people. "The rich" won't have much control over KaZaa-Life, and a billion eyeballs'll be keeping track of the anti-viral wetware on Life-Forge. In this case some people will still die young-- some treatments won't work for all people -- but that'd be just bad luck. You'll still try to live like 150 is possible.

    But what if some countries are still on different bell curves: they reasonably can expect to live only 45-55, 65 years if they're lucky. They'll behave differently- taking more risks, discounting the future- not out of anger or jealousy (though never ignore the power of those), but simply because its rational. Using more untested / black-market copies of drugs. Perhaps slightly less likely to use antibiotics in "old" (=60+) age.

    AdG writes that epidemics can still get us. Even without malicious intent they'll be more likely to come from the regions where lifespans are 1/3 the average. So again, if the wealthy elite (or 1st world countries generally) want to reach 150, we'll be handing out our telomere lengthening inhibitors and ATase like candy (low-glycolic index candy).

    The 7 problems & solutions:

It's fabulous! We haven't seen anything like it in the last half an hour! -- Macy's