Dallas Morning News,
Each week we will post a question to a panel of about two dozen clergy, laity and theologians, all of whom are based in Texas or are from Texas. They will chime in with their responses to the question of the week. And you, readers, will be able to respond to their answers through the comment box.
Would you want to live forever?
Okay, maybe not forever. But what do you think about what’s called “radical life extension?”
The Pew Research Religion and Public Life Project recently polled Americans about how they feel about efforts to keep people living well past 100. Not so surprisingly, the answers broke down into different categories when the researchers looked at this question by religious group.
For example, more than 50 percent of white evangelicals, white mainline Protestants and white Catholics thought “radical life extension” was a bad thing. But more than 50 percent of black Protestants thought it was a good thing. And 49 percent of those who believe in an after-life also thought this was good.
To me, that latter finding was the most interesting part of the survey. More people who believe in an after-life liked the concept than those who don’t believe in an after-life. (Fifty-eight percent of the latter thought extending life up to 120 years or so is not a good thing.)
So, what do you think of “radical life extension?”
Are we “cheating death” as the title of an Atlantic piece suggests? Or are we merely availing ourselves of all the advancements in science and medical technology?
NITYANANDA CHANDRA DAS, minister of ISKCON (International Society for Krishna Consciousness), Dallas
I am sorry to say, but this is a scam, a post-dated check and a grant plea.
The science community would like us to believe that they can solve all problems of life including the major ones such as death, disease, and old age. This is much like the Ford horseless carriage advertisements of the 1900s that claimed automobiles could solve America’s pollution problem. It would rid the streets of horse manure. Yet still people will invest and despite scientific advancements the death rate in America remains a steady 100%.
Back to the question. In the ancient Śrīmad Bhāgavatam it is stated. “What is the value of a prolonged life which is wasted, inexperienced by years in this world? Better a moment of full consciousness, because that gives one a start in searching after his supreme interest.”
This material world is like a hotel. When staying overnight at a hotel a wise person does not remodel his room. Similarly those who are wise to not try to make permanent plans to stay in the temporary material world. They are invested in the eternal for they are eternal. That which is eternal can never be satisfied with the temporary.
This issue of chasing after the temporary goes back to the root problem of life: People misidentify the self/soul with this temporary ever changing material body, this is called ignorance.
"49 percent of those who believe in an after-life also thought this was good."
I would like to add in regards to this excerpt. That most people who believe in the afterlife do not have a very clear picture as to what it is. If you were ask those believers what exactly is the afterlife like? What does that place look like? How do you spend your time there? What are the relationship between the various persons who are there and what exactly is one's relationship with God there? Would most people be able to answer?
Therefore because most religious people do not have scriptural details of the afterlife it would seem better to invest in that which we know something about, this life. It is like spending money to go on a vacation to an unknown destination.
It is like the bird who is afraid to leave his cage (the temporary body) because it is fearful of what is beyond the cage.