Monday, August 25, 2008

On Immortality (or, Why the Universe is Out to Kill Us)

A common buzz amongst Scientism and futurists types is how one day (in a galaxy far, far away) humanity will (through genetic manipulation and technological augmentation) be able to defeat death and become immortal. This, of course, is nonsense. There is no way for you to make yourself immortal; it is impossible.
Common sense would say that it would be (at the very least) difficult: even if you somehow stopped the aging process and completely immunized yourself, it does not matter--there is always the possibility of the emergence of a new disease or condition not yet discovered or considered, or the possibility that you will be hit by a bus.
Common sense, however, only tells us why human manufactured immortality would be difficult. To see why it is impossible, we must use our imagination for a second. Imagine a human (maybe the last one) who has, indeed, become "immortal" in every sense that this person could be: they have somehow stopped the aging process, immunized themselves against all diseases known and unknown, and have placed themselves in an environment where they are completely safe and sustained. Even then, immortality is not and cannot be obtained, for the following reasons:
Immortality (i.e., always being) is not contingent upon you; it is contingent upon the reality that you live in, upon the plane of existence that you inhabit. Unless your reality is immortal (always being), or eternal (has been and always will be), you will not be immortal, no matter what genetic or technological wonders you invoke.. Simply put: if your universe dies, you die with it. If you inhabit a dying universe (and therefore are a part of a dying universe), then immortality is negated as a manufactured possibility (for we "manufacture" with what we have, and all that we have is a part of our dying universe).
We, of course, do inhabit a dying universe. Even science knows that the universe (or at least our universe) will die; it may take a few billion years, it may be a "big crunch" or a falling apart, but it will happen. Thus, even if you somehow managed to achieve the aforementioned conditions of "immortality," you will only live until the universe dies, until it collapses or "runs away," or until the Sun burns out, until all suns burn out, until entropy finishes its deathly task and all energy is expended, equilibrium is reached, and everything (including "immortals") freezes and becomes static, cold, and dark. Again, a dying universe negates the possibility of manufactured immortality or immortal beings.
Since a dying universe creates the impossibility of manufactured immortality (and since we inhabit a dying universe), therefore the only way to guarantee the possibility of immortality is to: (1) somehow guarantee the immortality of the universe (i.e., keep the engine running); (2) find something (or someone) that can guarantee the immortality of the universe; (3) find another universe (preferably one that is immortal/eternal); or (4) find something (or someone) that is separate from (and yet still in contact with) our universe that can give immortality to either us, our universe, or both. Unless one of those four ways is satisfied, humanity's desire to make themselves immortal will be an eternal chasing of the wind.

(Note: To see the Christian stance, look here.)