Reverse Aging – Managing Our Mortality
Shakespeare understood the distaste of aging and the desire to reverse aging: “a moist eye, a dry hand, a yellow cheek, a white beard, a decreasing leg, an increasing belly . . . your voice is broken, your wind is short, your chin double, your wit single, and every part about you blasted with antiquity.” For centuries, we have sought magical formulas, myths, and modern science to escape this human condition. The Internet offers over 15 million sites pertaining to “aging” and over 67,000 on “reversing the aging process.” Aging is not simply about old age. It is the lifelong process by which we define the social, mental, and biological stages in our lives.
It is only recently that modern biotechnology began working on restoring youth, establishing longevity, and ultimately reversing the aging process. In 1995, Director John C. Guerin headed a study that documented animals (rockfish, turtles, and whales) which lived 200 years or longer without showing signs of aging. Publications by one physician from the Biosphere 2 team offer diets in longevity (2005) and anti-aging (2005). His book on living over 120 years (2000) promises to be “packed with . . . practical means of avoiding dying.” Dr. Richard D. Lippman, a 1981 Nobel Prize nominee, invented and patented ACF-22 in 1987 as a method of retarding aging. Although the product is now discontinued, it was “shown in rigidly controlled laboratory tests to increase life span by 19–26%.” The compelling pursuit of immortality is certainly driving age-retardation research.
Aging – Lengthening Our Lives
The process of aging defines youth just as much as it defines our old age. In both cases, we define our lives by how it relates to the various stages. With age retardation, we could dramatically slow down our biological and psychological maturation throughout our lives. By extending the average lifespan to 120, puberty might be delayed until 20. Depending on the particular technique, whether early gene manipulation or life-long caloric restriction mimicry, both young and old would be affected. What would be the impact on slower biological aging in a culture where the 21st century is accelerating the “social aging” of our youth? Aging retardation could stretch out our entire life cycle like a rubber band, extending the time we spend in infancy, childhood, adolescence, prime, and senior years. Yet there is always the risk of a serious rift between the maturity of the body/mind and the expectations and requirements of life.
Reverse Aging – Defeating Our Death
Aging is often addressed as a disease to be cured; that’s why people want to reverse aging! By expressing a desire to never grow old, we exercise our opposition to dying, preferring immortality. Most of us accept our mortality on one level, but reject aging as it frequently reminds us that we must face this vulnerability daily. All our activities and attitudes, therefore, are centered upon living life to the fullest, knowing we have a limited time.
When I first contracted cancer, my father’s response was “Why couldn’t it be me with cancer instead of you?” He’s my “daddy” and that’s what parents do . . . try to bear the pain and suffering for their children. At 91, my father is surprised by his longevity, while his own child’s lifespan is threatened. What my aging father doesn’t realize is that I am free from the relentless timetable of disease and death. “The Spirit of God, who raised Jesus from the dead, lives in you. And just as he raised Christ from the dead, he will give life to your mortal body by this same Spirit living in you” (Romans 8:11).
Reverse Aging – Finding Our Fountain of Life
Is aging a disease — a condition to be cured, like cancer? Were our ancestors who failed to approach the “century mark” any less blessed in their human experiences? By manipulating our biological life cycle, we may forfeit our experiential life cycle of what time, age, and change mean to us.