Saturday, September 24, 2011

Should We Control Aging?

A recent New York Times article described a scientific battle being waged between researchers studying the aging process and how to control it. Why is science dedicated to the lengthening of life by prolonging it "artificially" instead of concentrating its efforts on allowing life to reach its limit "naturally" by controlling the conditions (diseases, disasters, etc.) that tend to end it prematurely. Why do we bother with uncovering the aging process?

Stemming the aging process would give one the opportunity to live forever, and to live forever without the effects of biological aging! One could have the appearance and the energy of a 30-year old (pick your age) "forever!" Would you opt for this - or opt out of this?

Every living thing undergoes an aging process. There are evolutionary and cultural memes that support this reality. Aging isn't always pretty; as a matter of act it's often quite ugly. It can be emotionally ugly and physically ugly. It is often, if not generally, unwelcome.

We should clearly attempt to make the process less difficult to accept. But should we really be in the business of trying to stop it altogether? I don't know - maybe we should. Perhaps a world where biological aging no longer occurs would be an improvement. Using the evolutionary principle, I guess it would have to be considered an inevitability in the unceasing process of biological alteration. There is no stopping science in its constant drive to answer the never-ending questions about our natural world.

As for me, I'd opt not to tamper with our current march towards the senior years. Aging seems not only purposeful - but has its poetry. However, in its teleologic eternal efforts to understand, science has no bounds and should have none. It may trample on poetry in the process -- but new poetry always follows.

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