A Christian Theological Response to Aubrey De Grey’s Prospects for the Biomedical Postponement of Aging

Or: What Does it Mean to Live Long and Prosper?

Authored by: Ann Milliken Pederson

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.ch51

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Abstract

In the 2009 remake of Star Trek, the Vulcan salute “Live long and prosper” (mem-orialized by Mr. Spock) recalls America’s longing to vanquish the ills and scourges of aging and death in order to experience immortality. Like the original television series, the vision of modernity is that progress, reason, and the advances of science and technology will help to bring about this sought-after salvation. The legacies of the Enlightenment are both promising and problematic to cultures and people who, while hoping for progress and prosperity, simultaneously are never satiated and deny their own limitations and finitude. Early into the twenty-first century, the Western world, particularly those in Europe and the United States, live in the light of the progress of technology and in the shadow of its dangers. Advances in medicine and biotechnology, such as antibiotics and in vitro fertilization, have changed the way we come into the world, how we live, and when and how we shall die. But we also live with the haunting cries of those killed in the wake of genocides, of those who still do not have clean drinking water and healthy food, and those who are the victims of violence and poverty. Aubrey de Grey’s research on the biomedical postponement of aging (see Chapter 48 in this volume) must be interpreted and evaluated in this context of possibilities and promises of technological enhancement, and the problems and perils of a world’s population that is rapidly growing and does not have adequate access to the basics of food and water in order to survive.

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