Friday, December 28, 2007

More Time to be Wise?

The potential to radically extend the human lifespan raises all sorts of bioethical questions from theologically based concerns (Is it moral to seek immortality?) to more practical considerations (Will radical life extension bring increased happiness or despair to the human condition?) "Radical Life Extension and Religious Evolution" by Sonia Arrison, TechNewsWorld, 12/14/07 offers a positive spin:
...not all scholars saw radical life extension as a negative development.

Professor Ron Cole-Turner of the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary discussed how life extension could benefit many religious orders. "Technology will inject competition into religion and force religious authorities to clarify what they mean by immortality." This is important, according to Cole-Turner because "there is currently a lot of evasiveness about what immortality means." This is a good point and, of course, the conversation is not a one-way street.

Religion will also serve to inject ethical competition into technology circles. If the future of evolution is now more in human hands, the religious question is: toward what end? In other words, if humans could live longer, what good should result? Perhaps the Buddhist scholar had the most clear and concise answer.

Professor Derek Maher explained that in Buddhism each person is responsible for their own karma which, taken care of properly, can bring one to a state of nirvana, which is the cessation of suffering. Buddhists, he explained, already embrace the idea of radical life extension because it "gives you more time to attain wisdom and advance spirituality." Essentially, it gives you more time in this life to improve your karma so you can reach nirvana.
Older and wiser? Maybe...

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