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Who gets to live forever, the childless?

Posted: Thu, August 15, 2013 | By: Culture

By: Alisha Allen

Many have dreamed of immortality since the dawn of time.  With Longevity research and technology increasing every day, two of the biggest questions now are, “Can anyone achieve immortality?” and “Should they?”

One of the biggest concerns I usually hear, where the subject of Immortality is concerned, is that the Earth is overpopulated enough right now as it is. If humanity was not dying because the cures for all diseases have been discovered, and age is no longer a factor, then imagine just how overpopulated the world will be”. 

I have a friend, whom we shall call CJ.  CJ thinks that he has the perfect answer to the overpopulation dilemma:  His brilliant idea is that, when biogerontologists eventually come up with methods by which to halt aging and promote cellular regeneration, the availability should be restricted to those who have no children. “Once a man or woman has a child, then they will have just replaced themselves” he says. 

While I realize that many people may see wisdom in CJ’s proposed solution, I disagree.  I can see more problems caused than solutions. One problem I can foresee is slackers and drama kings/queens will be able to outlive the responsible/ drama-free, productive members of society.  As much as I hate to admit this, I have a relative (There’s one in every family) that has lived such a dramatic and disastrous life that I sometimes wonder if soap-opera writers get their ideas by watching her.  We’ll call her “Constance”. I am not aware of one productive accomplishment achieved by Constance.  She has been married seven times (the first six marriages ended in divorce because of her infidelity).  She has lived her life on government hand-outs and church charity, stolen from friends and family, and is a compulsive liar.  According to CJ though, she would be a prime candidate for prolonged/unending life, simply based on the idea that she has not had any children.  To give perspective to the issue at hand, I ask him, “As much drama and damage that Constance has caused for people over just sixty years, how much more do you think that she could cause in hundreds of years?” I would also like to point out that Jeffrey Dahmer never had any children either. 


Another reason that I think that the notion of denying parents life-extension is that of fairness.  Some of the most dedicated and most famous figures involved in the Life Extension project, have dedicated their lives to trying to make this a reality, and yet would be denied the opportunity to benefit from the fruits of their labor. Ray Kurzweil, famous author, futurist, and Director of Engineering at Google, has a dream that one day the human consciousness will be uploaded into a machine, and perhaps even into an android.  And if anyone can make this happen, it is Ray Kurzweil. If and when that day arrives, this could be one way to become more-or-less immortal. If you ask my opinion, I think that this great man should be the very first one to receive the privilege.  By CJ’s standards he should not be the first, the second or even the millionth to live on forever as he is a father of two. So, essentially Mr. Kurzweil will have worked all of his life only to give a gift to the human race which he, himself could never receive.  Could someone please try and explain the justice in that for me?  I see absolutely none. 

One final problem I see is potential rioting on the streets. Too many people would be upset with not being allowed to live on with their children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, etc. To be denied the opportunity to partake of one of man’s greatest achievements for no other reason than they had only completed an action which so many believe to be the sole purpose to our existence might be too much for too many people to accept.

As history has proven, the optimism of visionaries brings with it the counterpoint of skepticism and caution.  The Wright Brothers were condemned by those who did not believe that humans were “meant” to fly, Religious leaders warned against photographs because they were fearful we would “capture a person’s soul”, and these now are both a part of our daily lives, regardless of the obstacles their proponents had to overcome.  This is not a moral or ethical objection, but one of logistics.  There is only so much room on our tiny little planet, after all…


Hi - CJ’s idea is the worst I have read in quite a while (I have two children myself).

Yes, overpopulation is a problem, but punishing people who have them with death is extreme.

Humanity - without immortality - needs children to continue the species. A fertility rate of 2.0 to be exact. I am in favor of limiting the number of children families can have, but not obliterating reproduction.

CJ ... needs to come up with better ideas.

In his defense, a recent (very controversial) study indicated that women with the highest IQs have the fewest children, or none at all.

I like the idea of promoting the limitation of families to 2 children (I think Singapore used to do this, and China had it’s one-child policy)

As a parent… I can tell you the task is very very hard. Childless people who praise themselves for not having them… they have easy easy lives. I can’t see rewarding them for choosing such an easy path.

By Hank Pellissier on Aug 18, 2013 at 9:47am

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