Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Changing genes to extend lifespan

The above link is to a scientific article--the gist of it is that removing a certain gene from yeast cells increased their life span about six-fold. Scientists speculate that a similar effect could be obtained in people.

Even if you take 50 as an average life span, increasing it six times would mean living to be 300! I don't know about you, but I'd rather go to heaven than stay on earth, this "vale of tears," 6 times longer than I'd otherwise have to!

It seems that today scientists will do whatever they are able to technologically. But who's asking questions if this is a good thing or not? Is it really a good thing to artificially prolong human life by genetic manipulation? It seems to me that only people who don't believe in eternal life with God would want to do that.

Even apart from that, imagine the problems that would plague a society full of 100, 200 and even 300 year olds! Even if they managed to physically live that long, would they really have optimal health? Would it become a society with a huge overpopulation of elderly persons who need critical care, without enough younger people to provide it? Who would regulate retirement age? Would it make euthanasia compulsory? Would it create a new class of elites who could afford such technology?

What's your take on this?


seeking_something said...

I wouldn't want to prolong my stay on this earth either. I'm not going to give it a second thought unless they've shown that they can prolong the life of a lab rat.

Christina Martin said...

It's a pretty sorry state of affairs when the one thing you can count on in experimental medicine is that the young are the ultimate guinea pigs. If they wanted to try this on adults, at least the subjects would have the opportunity to give or deny consent; but of course, something like this would require a genetic change right at the orgin of life, before cells begin to divide.

I keep hearing in my mind the Carpenters' song: "Bless the beasts and the children, for in this world they have no voice. They have no choice."

Anonymous said...

Before I was married and had children, I always would pray (in my great stupidity) that I would die young because I wanted to go to heaven so much. I am now a mother and really hope God takes pitty and ignores those silly childhood prayers.

Of course he ignored all my hundreds of thousands of prayers begging him to give me a religious vocation, so maybe he will ignore those prayers as well.


Sr. Lorraine said...

I don't think God ignored your prayers, Maria, but just answered them in a way that was for your greater good.

Anonymous said...

Oh, yes, that is definately true. I can see in retrospect that it is much better for me to be a mother than a nun. It isn't what I wanted, but looking back I wouldn't change things for the world. God definately knew what he was doing (obviously!!). And I definately love every day of being a mother, although days like today it would be nice to have a vacation of quiet contemplative prayer in a cloister somewhere for a few days.