Prospects for the Biomedical Postponement of Aging

Technical Context for a Theological Debate

Authored by: Aubrey D. N. J. de Grey

The Routledge Companion to Religion and Science

Print publication date:  October  2011
Online publication date:  March  2012

Print ISBN: 9780415492447
eBook ISBN: 9780203803516
Adobe ISBN: 9781136634178

10.4324/9780203803516.ch48

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Abstract

The topic of combating aging is an emotive one, on which it seems that everybody has an opinion. By and large, although there is no objection to modest postponement of age-related ill-health, the prospect of more dramatic intervention elicits a wide variety of negative reactions, often arrived at with undue haste. Those who concern themselves with the religious and philosophical implications of such a prospect and its relationship to traditional religious claims are a key group of opinion-formers, whose pronouncements are likely to influence many in the wider world. It is thus essential that such scholars address these issues in the context of an accurate, albeit necessarily lay, understanding of the biomedical realities of aging – today’s reality, that of the near future, and the range of possibilities for the longer term. To that end, in this introductory essay I outline what is and is not known about the biology of aging and its biomedical malleability, with emphasis on certain points that non-biologists are particularly prone to misunderstand.

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