Extended Life Spans
Biological Eternal Life
The Second Prohibition
BABEL RISING! Page 5
From The Main Message of
Bread Upon The Waters Ministry
The Second Prohibition
The Second Prohibition is that the Lord will not allow us to give ourselves biological eternal life. Neither will He allow mankind to give itself life spans that are significantly extended beyond what they are now. But we are trying on both points, and progress is being made.
This first part of this prohibition has its basis way back in the story of the Fall of Man in Genesis 3. As is well known, there was a special tree in the Garden of Eden called the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil (to make the name complete - Genesis 2:9, NKJV). God forbade Adam and Eve to eat the Fruit of this Tree. But when tempted by the Serpent, Eve ate the Fruit and gave some to Adam, who ate it too. And they fell. This is also well known.
What is not so well known is that there was a second special Tree in the Garden; the Tree of Life! What is significant is that God did not forbid Adam and Eve to eat its Fruit - until after they sinned! Then He drove them out of the Garden of Eden, specifically (Genesis 3:22-24) to keep them from eating the Fruit of the Tree of Life. What He says indicates that, had they eaten it, the Fruit of the Tree would have given them eternal life even after they fell. Such was the life-giving virtue of the Fruit of the Tree of Life that, had they eaten it, even though they had become sinners, they still would have lived forever. The extreme measures that God took to prevent this - the normal work of cherubim (this is a transliterated Hebrew word in the plural) is to guard the throne of God - indicates that this would have been a very serious problem to God, had it happened. We should wonder why.
The Problem: Biological Eternal Life
As we know, when Adam and Eve fell, they passed on their fallen condition to their offspring (Romans 5:19). This might have also been true of the biological eternal life they would have acquired if they had eaten the Fruit of the Tree of Life. There is reason from the Bible to believe that a fallen human with biological eternal life might be lost beyond redemption. The key verse is I Corinthians 15:50:
"Flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God,
nor does corruption inherit incorruption".
More than that, there is reason to believe that the destructive effects of sin on one's body and mind increase over time. If Adam and Eve had been able to eat the Fruit of the Tree of Life, they would have been condemned to an eternal life that would have been increasingly a living hell. If they had been able to pass their immortality on to their offspring, the entire human race would have been equally damned. In order to make salvation possible, God had to allow death to reign for a time. His doing so was actually an act of mercy. Like it or not, we do have to die to go to Heaven (I Corinthians 15:42-44). But there are things going on in science that might just enable us to give ourselves biological eternal life in the not-to-distant future. Even if we don't, we are almost certain to be able to seriously extend our life spans in the near future.
The Problem: Extended Life Spans
There is also a Biblical limitation on our life spans. The reader is surely aware that the people who lived before the Flood had what we consider incredibly long life spans, over 900 years. But then, in Genesis 6:3, God decreed a shortening of the human life span to only 120 years. This became effective after the Flood, as in succeeding generations the life span dropped progressively. With only one exception, Moses was the last person in the Bible to live that long, and we know with certainty of only one person in recent history who lived that long, a French lady who died not long ago. Again, a major exception to the rule. Through Moses, God decreed, in Psalm 90:10, another shortening of the life span to only 70-80 years. That is where we are now. But we are working on extending our life spans far beyond that. In view of Genesis 11:6, given enough time, we will succeed.
There are more problems with both biological eternal life and extended life spans than just having to die to go to Heaven. One has to do with salvation. In Genesis 6:3, before limiting the human life span, God said,
"My Spirit shall not always strive with man..."
What did He mean?
As stated, people before the Flood had extremely long life spans. What is also notable from the Scriptures is that they became extremely sinful. So sinful that God felt constrained to wipe out nearly the entire human race to get rid of the sin. It appears therefore that there is a serious link between longevity and sinfulness. An unsaved person who remains physically healthy may become increasingly sinful as he gets older. Even if not, the older a person gets without coming to Christ, the less likely it is that he or she ever will. Old people get set in their ways. There have been studies done that show that most people who become Christians do so before they are 35 years old. If a person goes past his or her seventieth birthday without getting saved, the probability that the person ever will get saved is almost zero. In other words, the older a person is, the harder it is for the Holy Spirit to bring that person to salvation. This may be what God was referring to in the Scripture quotation above. A number of Christian leaders, notably Billy Graham, have concluded that it is possible for humans to go so far into sin that they are beyond salvation. God shortened the human life span to limit the distance a person can go beyond the spiritual point of no return.
There is another significant factor in long life spans, and it relates to our creativity. Although it is well known that people had long life spans before the Flood, what is not so well known is that they developed the beginnings of technical civilization very quickly. Genesis 4:21 & 22 mentions two specific individuals, Jubal and Tubal-Cain, who were the fathers of two specific areas of human creativity, music and metal working. We should note again that the people of Babel knew how to make kiln-dried bricks and build with them. These skills must have originated before the Flood. Noah had the know-how to build a fairly large ship. And God only knows what else they knew how to do. Although it is unlikely, some people have even argued that they had achieved space travel. But Genesis 4:22 does mention working with iron, and if they could do that before the Flood, they actually were doing it long before orthodox science says that humans knew how to do that.
In Genesis 6:5, we have noted the statement God makes about human imagination being evil. Imagination is the root of creativity. It appears that human creativity was part of the reason for the Flood. It appears that God brought the Flood, as much as for other reasons, to stop a rising technology that was already threatening to interfere with His plan of salvation. Mankind probably had not achieved space travel, contrary to what some thinkers have suggested (The fact that they thought of this shows that this concept is valid) but they may have been getting close. The Flood stopped them.
What must be understood is that these people developed these things without any tradition of factual knowledge and technical know-how. They were making a "cold start", in terms of knowledge and skills. People who do not know the history of science and industry have no idea how much basic knowledge of the material world existed, and had been quantified and put in writing, prior to the Industrial Revolution. As shown in the previous page, neither that nor the Technical Revolution of our century was built from a "cold start". Sir Isaac Newton, for example, invented calculus and discovered his Laws of Physics in the late 17th and early 18th Centuries. Blaise Pascal laid the mathematical foundations for computers around the same time. And that was just a small fraction of the real scientific and technical knowledge that existed then. We wouldn't be where we are now without that foundation having been there.
The people before the Flood would have had to have acquired their knowledge and technical skills from observation, intuition, and a long process of trial and error. This can take a long time. Thomas Edison is known to have made about 1000 tries before he was able to invent a successful light bulb. But he had a staff of highly skilled technicians to do most of the hands-on labor, and that saved him an enormous amount of time. People like Jubal and Tubal-Cain couldn't have had such helpers - the skills didn't exist. And again, Edison didn't make a "cold start" either. There had been work done previously by other people aimed at producing light safely and cheaply from electricity. Electric arc lights already existed. Jubal, Tubal-Cain, and the others like them who must have existed did make a "cold start". They were able to do what they did because they lived so long.
In Our Time
In our time, it is well known that some potential scientific discoveries were lost because a particular scientist's career was cut short by illness and/or death. There was a man, whose name you might not be familiar with, who lived in New York City in the early part of this century named Nikola Tesla. He became mentally ill and died in poverty. The scientific and technical establishment forgot about him. Yet Tesla can claim credit for discovering the scientific principles that make our electric power grid systems possible, particularly how to synchronize alternating current generators. This problem had Thomas Edison totally defeated. Had it not been solved, we could not have the power grids we have now, which provide constant, consistent electric power over wide areas. Each individual generator would have to serve just one limited area at one time, and frequent blackouts and brownouts would be inevitable. This problem could have kept the use of electricity from ever becoming what it is now. It would have prevented the Computer Revolution. Tesla solved the problem.
Tesla can also claim to have been the true inventor of radio, not Marconi. Marconi worked with information he got from Tesla. These are not the only discoveries of his that are in use. It is also known that Tesla made a number of other major discoveries that were lost when he died. He was so brilliant that he worked almost entirely out of his head, seldom putting his ideas on paper, so with his death, most of his other discoveries were irretrievably lost. He definitely had found at least one method of electronic communication that has never been used. And believe it or not, he may have known how to generate man-made earthquakes and how to control the weather*. If he had not died without leaving written documentation of his discoveries, we might be living in a much different world now. We might even have anti-gravity and practical space travel. As far as applied science and technology are concerned, Tesla was arguably the greatest genius in history. We will never know how much was lost when he became mentally ill. One can not help wondering what this world would be like if he had had biological eternal life, and had received effective treatment for his mental illness. That, by the way, began right around the time he died. God may have cut Tesla's career short because his genius could have interfered with His plan of salvation.
Therefore, one of God's reasons for shortening the human lifespan, like confusing the languages at Babel, was to put limits on human creativity. But we are working to remove that limitation, and, again, progress is being made.
*The U.S. Government is not admitting this, but there is reason to believe that it is secretly conducting large-scale experiments in controlling the weather, using Tesla's technology.
What Is Happening Now
There is a big movement in progress in the area of medical science and biology to solve the problem of aging. In the past, it has been the goal of medicine to extend the human life span by successfully treating (curing or controlling) or preventing various diseases, and of course by successfully treating injuries. This has not been ineffective. Few people are aware of how much progress has been made within this century. Due to war, malnutrition and disease, the average human life span had dropped to only 47 years in 1900. Due to advances in medicine, nutrition, and related fields, it has risen to 75 years. That is an increase of 28 years, over 60%. Most of the increase in the human life span that has taken place in recorded history has taken place in this century. But 75 years is still within the parameters of Psalm 90:10.
So many people are living well past the age of 65 now that in the U.S. and other Western nations it is beginning to cause social and political problems. A new political voting bloc is emerging - senior citizens - with their own political and social agendas. Increasing numbers of the aged are placing a burden on social services and entitlement programs. There are starting to be related housing and employment problems too. The normal practice of expecting or even requiring people to retire at age 65 may soon have to be abandoned with the force of law. These problems are happening already.
But there are things going on that may soon extend our life spans much further, and maybe even give us biological eternal life.
The Human Genome Project
(Note: "genome" is the scientific term for the arrangement of the genes in the chromosomes within a living cell.)
This is an international research project that is seeking to identify every gene in every chromosome in the human cell, and then find out exactly what each gene does. It is being coordinated, and findings are being shared, through the Internet. Every nation that has a genetic research establishment is involved. In 1995, in the United States alone, the Project was funded to the tune of $225,000,000.00. The first phase of the project, identifying every gene, is expected to be completed in 2001. Considerable progress has been made, including several really useful discoveries. If you don't believe all this, go to Yahoo, and search with the word "genome". See what you find.
Scientists are being conservative in their predictions of what benefits will be gained from this. (By the way, real scientists are almost always conservative with their statements. They don't want to "stick their necks out" and risk making fools of themselves.) What has been promised are better ways of diagnosing and treating diseases, such as cancer, heart disease, diabetes, mental illnesses, and AIDS. In fact, it may soon be possible to completely and permanently cure diabetes. It may also become possible to significantly increase human intelligence. It has already become possible to predict the likelihood that a person will sooner or later develop any one of a number of diseases by analyzing that person's genetic makeup. One particular gene has been absolutely linked, for example, to breast cancer. Genes are also being linked to behavior. This has already precipitated a legal controversy over who, i.e. prospective employers, law enforcement agencies, and/or insurance companies; should or should not be allowed to have access to a person's genetic profile.
But the real promise - or threat - of the human genome project is that it is likely to give us the knowledge required to successfully genetically engineer human beings. In this way, it may be possible to create a new race of humans whose bodies can repair and renew themselves indefinitely, and thus give us effective biological eternal life. Such people would never get old. As has been said by others, the only causes of death will be crime, accidents, and war. As suggested in the previous page, war may cease to be a significant cause of death, leaving only crime and accidents.
Nor is this the only scientific venue in which the problem is being addressed. Scientists in the field of microbiology have succeeded in stopping the aging process in yeast cells, and they think the same procedure they used might work in human cells. Scientists working with growth hormones have produced real rejuvenation in rats and mice, and they think the same techniques might work in humans.
In yet other another area of research, considerable progress has been made in learning how to grow human tissue and organs in vitro. The goal is to be able to replace damaged or diseased organs with one's grown from the patient's own tissue. This is already being done in actual practice with skin and bone. There is a young man in Massachusetts, now in his late teens, who was born without some of the bones that should have been in his chest. While in his early teens, doctors grew a set of bones in vitro from samples of his own tissue to replace the ones he lacked. The bones were implanted surgically and they work.
The goal is to do this with hearts, livers, lungs, etc. The idea is to eliminate the body's rejection of donated organs that almost always happens in transplant cases, and the need for medication to suppress the rejection. This kind of medication also suppresses the immune system in undesirable ways. Using organs grown in vitro from the patient's own tissue would mean swifter recovery and a longer, healthier life for the recipient. Success is almost certain. The only real question is "When?". Even now, it appears that we have acquired the ability to make clones of ourselves if we want to. This is also a situation that God can not allow to continue.
Meanwhile, progress in orthodox medicine and drug development is making steady progress. The head cancer researcher for Pfizer, one of the biggest drug manufacturers, say that cancer will become as controllable as diabetes within the near future, just from the use of new medicines, and he insists that that statement is not a pipe dream.
In actual practice, it may take knowledge and techniques from a variety of scientific disciplines to seriously extend our lifespan or give us biological eternal life, but understand this: In the light of what God said in Genesis 11:6, given enough time, we will do it!
Again, no way will He give us enough time.
The question is:
How soon will He intervene to stop us?
The Longevity Movement
There is another movement going on that is not as scientific as the Human Genome Project, but that is nevertheless producing results. It is known by various names: Longevity Research, the Life Extension Movement, etc. Much of what has been done is not accepted as legitimate by the scientific and medical establishment. It has, unfortunately, included some obvious quackery and out-and-out fraud. But for all that, it has definitely resulted in some real knowledge about how to prolong human life.
This knowledge includes the use of vitamins, nutrition, exercise and hormones. It includes other disciplines like fasting, weight control, avoiding excessive exposure to sunlight and insistence on getting enough, but not too much, sleep. It even includes psychological and New Age-type yoga and meditation techniques for reducing stress and improving natural self-healing. It is likely that if everything that is now known about life extension that can be accepted as real fact were applied by everyone as a unified program, the average human life span could already be extended by another 30 years right now. (Note: this is not this writer's original statement - it is a partial quote from a doctor involved in the movement.) That alone would violate the limits set in Psalm 90:10. There are people living right now who have been seriously applying this knowledge for a long time. Some of them are in their eighties, but look and live as if they were in their twenties. So this is something that we can already do. Making this a major violation of the Second Prohibition is just a matter of getting more people to do it. It remains to be seen what will be achieved on this point.
There is a doctor named Karlis Ullis who teaches at the UCLA School of Medicine. He uses a combination of vitamins, hormones and exercise to treat his patients for aging. He is also treating himself, and has gone on record saying that he intends to live to be 150 years old. This sounds far-fetched, but for all we know, he may succeed.
The "Wild Card" Issue
In this, as well as the Third Prohibition, we have what might be called the "Wild Card" issue, that is, the question of how soon what might happen. As stated above, real scientists are almost always conservative in what they predict as the results of their research. Yet unexpected breakthroughs can and do occur. There is, for example, a totally new approach to treating cancer that has not yet acquired scientific respectability. It sees all cancers as being caused by a here-to-fore overlooked problem that first exists in the blood, and it treats that problem. The blood problem is controllable. The theory is that, the blood problem being treated, the cancer vanishes. If this becomes established as true, then screening for the blood problem will become routine health care. If, then, the blood treatment becomes standard procedure, it will totally remove cancer from the list of killer diseases, and instantly extend the average human lifespan significantly, possibly by as much as twenty years. There are many other "Wild Card" possibilities relevant to the human life span. Again, the real questions are "What?" and "When?" Not "If"!
Update: 5/23/99 There appears to have been another "wild card" breakthrough, which, though not proven, is already getting far more scientific acceptance than the possibility above. It appears that, whereas the idea above is mainly preventative, a substance has been recently discovered that may be able to cure any form of cancer. What makes this especially a "wild card" event is the fact that the scientists who found it were not even doing cancer research. They stumbled onto it while studying the prevention of infectious diseases, which cancer is not.
Basically, two researchers at Lund University in southern Sweden have discovered a protein in - believe it or not - mother's milk, that kills cancer cells. It has worked, in the lab, on every kind of cancer they have tried it on. Again, the discovery was an accident. They were studying, specifically, the ability of mother's milk to prevent infection in a baby, and trying to learn how it happens. They were using laboratory-grown human cancer cells as a substitute for real human baby tissue, and the mother's milk killed the cells. They set out to find out exactly what is was in mother's milk that did this, and they found it was a protein called Alpha-lactalbumin. The critical factor is that it kills only cancer cells. On the other hand, it actually strengthens and stimulates growth in healthy cells. Which may mean that it would have a healing effect otherwise, besides killing the cancer. And by the way, it is possible to mass produce this protein through genetic engineering.
An interesting sidelight to this is that it apparently been known for quite some time that, statistically, a baby that is not breast fed is nine times more likely to get cancer during childhood than a baby that is breast fed. Apparently, no one ever bothered to seriously ask why. This discovery answers the "why", and it means that this protein may very likely to be the long-sought, and oft despaired of total cure for cancer.
The protein must now be subjected to a series of tests before it goes into general use. But when it does, if it fulfills its apparent promise, it will defeat what has been a major scourge of the human race, and significantly increase the average human lifespan. Very few people will have their lives cut short by cancer thereafter.
God may have had more reasons for shortening our life spans than those stated above. In fact, one of them is related to the third prohibition. We will discuss it in the next page of this section. And yet another will be discussed in the final page. What is certain is that by Scripture, He did limit our life spans to what they are now. Yet we are trying to extend our lifespans and hopefully give ourselves biological eternal life. We have already had some success with the former effort, in fact more than most people know. We could live much longer now if we would just universally apply what we know. According to what God said in Genesis 11:6, we will succeed completely if God gives us enough time. And again, no way will He give us enough time.
As previous stated, there is yet another prohibition, and we are making progress toward full violation of it. We will discuss it in the next page:
Space Travel And Humans Living On Other Worlds
The Third Prohibition
Contact Author, William D. Brehm; firstname.lastname@example.org