Modern technologies have led to incredible advances toward the longevity of the average person. With the advent of the steam engine during the Industrial Revolution, advances in food transportation and breakthroughs in medical care have over time given rise to great increases in population throughout the world. Infant mortality and childhood deaths have plummeted while greater numbers now live into their eighties and nineties, greatly increasing the life expectancy of those alive today.
Taking in the breadth of human history, it is astounding the shear scope of the advances made within the last one hundred fifty years. Yet as impressive as this progress has been, given the advances of technology, there remains one problem which innovators have been incapable of solving: the inevitability of death.
A Modern Quest for Immortality
However, according to a recent article 1 in Newsweek, wealthy Silicon Valley investors are intent in solving the dilemma of human mortality. Millions of dollars are being donated to groups like the Methuselah Foundation, which has the ambitious goal of “creating a world where 90-year-olds can be as healthy as 50-year-olds—by 2030.” Other projects seem like something straight from science fiction, like the 2045 Initiative that seeks to replace human bodies with robotic avatars.
Critics of this movement are quick to denounce it as quixotic, only putting off what is a certainty. Yet others are jumping on the bandwagon, theorizing 2 how lifespans of one hundred, two hundred, or 1,000 years will change everything we know.
Paradise on Earth?
In his magnum opus Revolution and Counter-Revolution, Prof. Plinio Correa de Oliveira warned of an ongoing process aimed toward creating a Revolutionary utopia:
“In such a world, the Redemption by Our Lord Jesus Christ has no place, for man will have overcome evil with science and will have made the earth a technologically delightful paradise. And he will hope to overcome death one day by the indefinite prolongation of life.” 3
The current push for longer and longer lifespans and an end to death will not lead to paradise…or at least, any paradise which has any resemblance to the actual paradise: the Beatific Vision of Heaven.
Modern man, just like his forebears, must come to face reality: each one of us will die at some point, whether it be a century from now or in a matter of moments. No matter how good our lives may be here on earth, there is no possible way of attaining the eternal beatitude of the Celestial Paradise without death. When we die, our bodies soon begin to decay, but our souls live on.
No Concern for the Soul
The Church has perennially recommended for men to reflect on the Four Last Things: Death, Judgment, Heaven and Hell. Our lives on earth, whether short or long, determine how we will spend the eternity. From a natural perspective, our works live on after we pass, primarily through our descendants and the legacy of our deeds.
Yet with time human memories fade. Every thought, word and deed from our first to last moments on this earth will be accounted for by Almighty God, a fact which made our ancestors take life very seriously, knowing any breath could be the last. This stern truth helped to form countless individuals who took life seriously and thus yielded the greatest achievements of Christian civilization.
The present efforts attempting to eliminate death negate any possibility of there even being a heaven, and thus any possible reason to live according to the Ten Commandments and follow the moral law. Until God’s plan for life and for death is once again taken seriously by individuals and society at large, people will continue living longer…but not better.
- Cf. The Week, “How 1,000-year lifespans could remake the economy” at http://theweek.com/articles/444638/1000year-lifespans-could-remake-economy, accessed 3/11/15.
- Plinio Corrêa De Oliveira, Revolution and Counter-Revolution. 3rd ed. York, Penn: The American Society for the Defense of Tradition, Family and Property, 1993. pp. 67-68.