It goes without saying that the subject of death has been a source of contention since the dawn of time. Is it a positive or a bad thing to die? This perplexing question continues to ruffle a lot of feathers. When I suggest that death is a bad thing, I believe I speak for many people. It has taken away our loved ones, great presidents, academics, great scientists, entertainers, and the list goes on.
Many people want to be invincible as a result of their fear of death. They want to live forever and succeed in this volatile world of ups and downs. This is the reason why most religions believe in the existence of an infinite afterlife. According to Bernard Williams an established philosopher, human life is much better with death than without it. The scholar further argues that mortality is preferable to immortality.
There exist some reasons that may warrant some people to opt to die rather than live. These instances include; when one is suffering from chronic pain caused by an incurable disease such as HIV and AIDS or cancer. Such people undergo so much pain and suffering such that death is the only remedy. Another instance is when one is sliding into dementia. One rather dies that live without their intelligence.
Death is bad for not only the ones left behind but also for the ones who have kicked the bucket. For example if I were to die today I am sure that my loved ones would be deeply grief stricken. Some of them might fail to accept my fate and find it hard to move on. Similarly, death would also be terrible for me. I simply cannot fathom myself without my loved ones. I also believe that I am yet to accomplish a lot in my life. The future holds a lot in store for me.
My perspective is that we are better off the way we are rather than living forever. I concur with Bernard Williams sentiments that death gives meaning to life. Because we know that we have a limited duration of time is the world, we maximize our input in the limited time available. We are motivated to life to the fullest, take risks, make mistakes, love, forgive; it’s all about now because the future is unknown. We go on to establish objectives in life that we hope at accomplishing and the moment this is done we can deduce that we lived a satisfying life. As the famous adage stipulates, monotony leads to boredom. Similarly, when one i to live for a long duration of time, it is obvious that they will eventually be bored. Living will therefore be pointless and it may prompt people to commit suicide.
Immortality would definitely undermine the meaning of life. The fact that people will live for eternity will inhibit them for making use of their time now. People will be comfortable; the will not set objectives or goals that they hope to accomplish, they will not appreciate how the gift of life is important, they will lack purpose. However, when one fathoms that he or she is in existence for a limited duration of time, they will definitely make use of their limited time. Being aware of the fact that it is just a matter of time before we all die instills the element of purpose in life. Other famous scholars also support Bernard’s argument. Leon Kass and Borges also claim that without death life will lose meaning.
There is also the issue regarding whether or not indeed there is an afterlife. Many religions believe and preach in the existence of an afterlife and also a higher deity or power that controls everything. The promise of a much better life in the afterlife than life on earth keeps masses in check. I mean we all want to have a comfortable eternity free of the hardships that we encounter in our day to day lives. Such promise has motivated masses to live a holy life, devoid of sin. But is there really and afterlife?
Then there is the element of science that has from time immemorial questioned the whole logic of the bible and the creation theory. First, there was the works of Charles Darwin the famous scholar who claimed that humans being evolved from ape like creatures to the current modern man (Darwin, 2007). Then came in modern science that has completely revolutionized the way we view life. There was cloning and now due to the vast advancement in the field of science and medicine, the lifespan of human beings can be extended. Recent findings indicate that stem cells can be used to regenerate tissues that may be used to treat medical conditions such as stroke. Scientists have also gone on to develop genes that may delay the aging process. An example is that involving the creation of fruit flies that have double the normal lifespan. Another creature that has been developed is a mouse that can spontaneously regenerate its body parts. This is simply astonishing (http://learn.genetics.utah.edu/content/basics/telomeres/).
In my opinion I think that these recent scientific findings will aid in upholding and preserving life. In the event these tests done on animals are successfully done on human beings then the whole perspective of life would be changed for the better. There are vast advantages that will be brought about by the findings. First, important lives will be saved; generally speaking the life expectancy of human beings will be extended. People will be able to live for more than a century this is enough time to ensure that one has completely accomplished his or her goals. Scientists, scholars, innovators and inventors; all their lives will be salvaged. Then therefore will continue to have the opportunity to make our lives better and simpler. Secondly, the opportunity for a “second” or basically extended life will ensure that people treasure and value life. Ideally, people do not usually appreciate life until when they are about to die, or brush shoulders with death. Imagine having a second change to continue living your life I am sure you will maximize and savor every moment. Thirdly, the findings will serve as a gateway to other findings such as being able to remain as youths for eternity. This will definitely be fascinating.
Despite the massive advantages that can be associated with the findings, there also exist some limitations or factors that will have to be considered. First, is the fact that the findings will only prolong life but not completely prevent one from dying. Death is inevitable; in the long run we will all die. So the findings will basically extend ones time on earth but not prevent his or her death. This is somehow discouraging, but then again we have to appreciate the extended lifespan. Half a loaf is better than no bread.
Secondly, the findings specifically deal with aging, how about other cause of death such as road accidents and ailments? Such element has been left behind. It is crystal clear that in our societies a few percentages of people die due to old age. What about the rest? Their deaths will be unaccounted for. This is definitely another limitation associated with the findings. Thirdly, there is the element of religion. These findings will definitely not conform to religious teachings and findings. Our bodies are God’s temple therefore tampering with his creation will definitely be against his will. I think that science should establish a boundary with regards to contentious issues such as these and cloning because in so doing they will conform to the teachings of our Lord.
In a nutshell, the continuing advancements in the field of science definitely will aid in improving life. Death is a bad thing that I would not even wish for my greatest enemy. Life is sacred it is God’s gift to us. It should therefore be protected at all costs. Albeit, eternal life would be great, life will lose purpose. We should therefore maximize on our limited time on earth.
Darwin, C. (2007). Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. Fitz Roy. Whitefish, MT: Kessing Publishing.