Should People Face Death?
The people started to ask themselves questions like “Why?”, “What for?”, and “How?” probably since the emergence of the first communities and understanding of themselves as individuals; these questions were not out of idle curiosity. They were dictated by the harsh realities and the need in a permanent solution of the survival issues. One of the main issues was and still is the issue of immortality. Many scientists from the ancient times dreamed of creating the conditions for human immortality. Currently, their dreams did not come true (according to the official science). However, does humanity needs this incomprehensible, unknowable, and currently non-existing substance as immortality and is it possible to cheat death?
Life emerged from the nonliving matter through a long process. Many wonder whether an entity, having signs of life, exists forever in a relatively unchanged form. There are a few vivid examples.
Sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus franciscanus) live more than 200 years, but not 7-15 years as it was previously thought. This is an absolute record for the living beings of the Earth. American scientists have studied the shells of the sea urchins. The layers of heavy carbon, formed due to air nuclear tests carried out in the 50s, were deposited on them. It turned out that the creatures that are more than 100 years did not concede on vital signs to younger ones and sometimes even surpass them (Corvallis).
There is also another example – trees. In 1954-1955, Dr. Shulman and his assistant C. W. Ferguson carried out an extensive research work covering the area from California to Colorado. They studied the trees at a height of 3048 - 3354 m in the seemingly impossible places. All of these trees have had an extensive dead parts and a thin strip of a living bark. These trees were the oldest around the globe growing in the most extreme conditions on poor soils and with minimal moisture. There were found a few trees aged from 3000 to 4000 years and older. The first tree, the age of which was more than four thousand years, was called Pine Alpha. Later, in 1957, there was found the tree called Methuselah; it was 4723 years. Methuselah is the most ancient living being on our planet (Ferguson 4-5).
The Turritopsis nutricula jellyfish is not willing to surrender to the mercy of fleeting time. It was aptly called “immortal”; this inhabitant of tropical and temperate waters is the only living creature that can turn back the time of its life. Its secret lies in a phenomenon that scientists call “transdifferentiation”, which consists in the transformation of one cell type into another (Piraino, Boero, Aeschbach and Schmid 303).
Reaching sexual maturity, Turritopsis nutricula attaches itself to the seabed, draws tentacles, and gradually turns into a polyp. Due to the ability to “be born” again, jellyfish Turritopsis nutricula has become cosmopolitan, having settled almost all over the world’s oceans. Turritopsis nutricula has the unique ability to change the cells of the entire volume of its body infinite number of tim>It can be concluded that the existence of a hypothetical fact of immortality of the soul, body, and mind of man is possible. However, it is difficult to say what component is more important for the modern man. Thus, it is quite logical to raise the question “Why should man need an eternal life?” The reason is only in the fear of death in the awareness of the end of the pleasures currently received.
There is a famous research with rats. The electrode was connected to the rats’ pleasure center. The rats had to press the button to receive a portion of pleasure. They pressed the button until the death, so they were actually dying from pleasure (Kringelbach, Phil and Berridge 579). Simple people, who have received immortality, would be like those rats and would eventually become marginalized. Immortal people will start to reduce the path to pleasure. As the result, they would certainly come to drugs or something similar, because other (reasonable) goals are not delivered and socially conditioned, but people want to continue taking pleasure. It is dangerous to give immortality to people - they will turn society into hell as the purpose of each will be very primitively simple. The degradation of society will be inevitable, and pleasure will be the most precious commodity.
However, this is not all the problems supposing that people live forever and get pleasure. Every man has a memory in time. It remembers the past pleasure, so its repeat does not give a new satisfaction - one is expecting in advance such a feeling, so this feeling ceases to give pleasure. Unwittingly, one will seek to enhance the pleasure as it occurs with drug addicts. As a result, they will sooner or later end with overdosing. This means that people one way or another will come to death even being immortal.
Thus, degradation of humans and society and an inevitable death would happen even if people get bodily immortality. Therefore, it should not start with the immortality of the body, which takes pleasure, but with the development of a purpose in life, designed for a longer period than 50-70 years. However, there is no such purpose, and people do not even think about it. All are struggling with mortality of the body, but no one thinks about the idea of immortal soul.
The men are finite not only in their lives, but also in their models of the world, which they acquired in the most active period of brain formation. One cannot change them in 70 years (or another elderly age). The value of ideas generated by such models will soon dry up including the author himself. There will be carriers with new models that will create more valuable ideas. 70-year-old man (on condition of eternal life) will come to despair and is likely to commit suicide. Only a complete rebirth and re-learning can update the model - it is the feature of the biological basis.
Death exists as the need to change the model. Genome is the same model. It must give way to the new genome generated by mating and, therefore, more adapted to changing environmental conditions and simply more “perfect” due to the concept of selection.
There are other no less important reasons. There is a separate issue of prevailing values of society over the value of its individuals. Imagine that the main highest form of life (and mind) is society, not a person, and its main components are thoughts, not the bodies; and people are just neurons. In this case, society as a whole controls people far deeper than they think - social interaction and social norms determine their behavior. The knowledge of society and its soul is not located in any of men. It is in the culture, which can be fixed in artifacts; the number of those who can “read” them is enough for the life of the culture. Most people think that every single individual is important to society. However, society is interested in changing to get an update of its neurons at the genetic level. Eternal life of the individual as a limited unit is meaningless for society.
Hence, there is a simple conclusion – eternal life is possible, but not for people. Craving for “technological” immortality of the individual is just a belief of the 21st century, which is unsubstantiated and rests only on the fear of death. In this case, the search in this direction is supported by such motive as religion - the fear of death. Therefore, the search results “are predefined” taken into account not just the hints on the possibility of immortality, but other facts that suggest the opposite are ignored.