Sunday, June 25, 2017

Immortality: With a Lifetime Guarantee

With a Lifetime Guarantee

Survival is our final ambition as a species and the only way to survive is to ensure that we are a good fit in our environment. There are two ways to survive as a species. One is to produce an enormous number of offspring and hope that a few survive long enough to pass on their genes. Another approach—one that humans are following—involves having a few children whom we nurture for more than 18 years. Nurturing is an important—and integral—component of our survival strategy. Nurturing involves having things to teach and living long enough to be able to teach them. This involves having a larger brain and longer life—and the two go together. Aging is not a dustbin of genetics, but an integral part of our strategy for survival as a species. With aging also comes the opportunity to learn about the environment. We learn in terms of our skills and also through our biology. As we age we pick-up new genetic material, modify existing genes, and fine-tune them before we pass our genes on to our children. Our lives are devoted to just this aim, except we remain ignorant of this fact for good reason. We create a model of reality in our brain. For us to engage in the world we have to be at the center and we have to believe that we are unique and have a free will. Our impression of reality, dictated by having a world that is just, fair and constant, also requires that we do not think about our own death or our model of the world becomes untenable. This is where our belief in immortality comes in. We want things to stay constant so that we can retain some level of control. Anticipating our death destroys this impression that the world is orderly and just. But there is one problem with this made-up reality, we do eventually get old, frail and die. We point at aging as the culprit. Aging is the problem that we need to solve rather than a survival strategy.  But if we understand aging we will understand the tricks of our psychology. By looking across ecological biology, genetics, biology and anthropology we can form an understanding of how aging came about as a positive attribute. With aging came a whole new dimension of human development. A life-long symphony is playing, that has a beginning, a middle and an end.  It is not just about tweaking genetics, or taking supplements, or curing aging. Our aging is an integral part of our environment and our history. We are meant to die, as much as it is detrimental to the individual, aging and death form our strategy as a species. Our personal salvation is that we delude ourselves this reality.