Bioethics Discussion Blog: Do You Really Want the Longevity of Methuselah and Beyond?

REMINDER: I AM POSTING A NEW TOPIC ABOUT ONCE A WEEK OR PERHAPS TWICE A WEEK. HOWEVER, IF YOU DON'T FIND A NEW TOPIC POSTED, THERE ARE AS OF MARCH 2013 OVER 900 TOPIC THREADS TO WHICH YOU CAN READ AND WRITE COMMENTS. I WILL BE AWARE OF EACH COMMENTARY AND MAY COME BACK WITH A REPLY.

TO FIND A TOPIC OF INTEREST TO YOU ON THIS BLOG, SIMPLY TYPE IN THE NAME OR WORDS RELATED TO THE TOPIC IN THE FIELD IN THE LEFT HAND SIDE AT TOP OF THE PAGE AND THEN CLICK ON “SEARCH BLOG”. WITH WELL OVER 900 TOPICS, MOST ABOUT GENERAL OR SPECIFIC ETHICAL ISSUES BUT NOT NECESSARILY RELATED TO ANY SPECIFIC DATE OR EVENT, YOU SHOULD BE ABLE TO FIND WHAT YOU WANT. IF YOU DON’T PLEASE WRITE TO ME ON THE FEEDBACK THREAD OR BY E-MAIL DoktorMo@aol.com

IMPORTANT REQUEST TO ALL WHO COMMENT ON THIS BLOG: ALL COMMENTERS WHO WISH TO SIGN ON AS ANONYMOUS NEVERTHELESS PLEASE SIGN OFF AT THE END OF YOUR COMMENTS WITH A CONSISTENT PSEUDONYM NAME OR SOME INITIALS TO HELP MAINTAIN CONTINUITY AND NOT REQUIRE RESPONDERS TO LOOK UP THE DATE AND TIME OF THE POSTING TO DEFINE WHICH ANONYMOUS SAID WHAT. Thanks. ..Maurice

FEEDBACK,FEEDBACK,FEEDBACK! WRITE YOUR FEEDBACK ABOUT THIS BLOG, WHAT IS GOOD, POOR AND CONSTRUCTIVE SUGGESTIONS FOR IMPROVEMENT TO THIS FEEDBACK THREAD

Saturday, December 31, 2005

Do You Really Want the Longevity of Methuselah and Beyond?

Let's continue to contemplate longevity and immortality. Longevity is hallmarked by the 969 years of life of the biblical character Methuselah (Book of Genesis 5:27: And all the days of Methuselah were nine hundred sixty and nine years: and he died.) Methuselah was said to have died in the year of the Great Flood.




Know'st Thou What Gray Methuselah
by Konstantin Nikolaevich Batiushkov (1787-1855)

Know'st thou what gray Methuselah
Pronounced when parting with this life?
Man's born a slave,
He dies a slave,
And death will never tell him why
He walked this lovely vale of tears,
Suffered, wept, endured, and disappeared.



And on a more cheerful note:



Methuselah

- Unknown Author

Methuselah ate what he found on his plate,
And never as people do now;
Did he note the account of the calorie count.
He ate it because it was chow.
He wasn't disturbed as at dinner he sat,
Devouring a stew or a pie
To think it was lacking in granular fat,
Or a couple of vitamins shy;
He cheerfully chewed every species of food,
Unmindful of troubles or fears
Lest his health might be hurt
By some fancy dessert,
And he lived over nine hundred years.


More on longevity including some interesting speculation on biblical longevity from Wikipedia


Lifespan

Our current knowledge on cellular lifespan hypothesizes that the natural limit on modern human longevity is well below 150 years. Guinness Records for the oldest living person have long remained within the range from age 112 to the all-time record of 122 years held by Jeanne Calment, but the process of sorting genuine supercentenarians from longevity myths is hampered by the often questionable birth certification records from the late 19th century. Guinness Record statistics are soon likely to reveal the approximate true longest natural human lifespan yet achieved in modern times.

Today some maintain that the unusually high longevity of Biblical patriarchs is the result of an error in translation: lunar cycles were mistaken for the solar ones, and the actual ages are 12.37 times less. This gives 78 years for Methuselah, which is still an impressive number, bearing in mind the life expectancy of Biblical times. Methuselah's fathering of Lamech would correspondingly have occurred at solar age 15 (187÷12.37). (This theory however, seems doubtful to others since patriarchs such as Mahalalel (Book of Genesis 5:15) and Enoch (Book of Genesis 5:21) were said to have become fathers after 65 "years." If the lunar cycle theory were accepted this would translate to an age of about 5 years and 2 months. Creationists have proposed a number of ideas for the dramatic decrease in lifespans following the flood of Noah's time. One was that conditions before the flood caused much less ultraviolet light from the sun to impact the earth, and that this allowed for longer life spans. The latest proposal is that it is due to the genetic bottleneck that would have been caused by the flood, causing loss of longevity genes.


What would we worry about if we all had the potential to live nine hundred years or forever. I guess it would be not to get killed in an accident, a homicide, a war or a natural disaster (a flood as perhaps Methuselah?). Would we worry that we might get bored with life?: “Not new. Already seen this, done this.” Is this, the longevity of Methuselah or beyond,that which people alive in this world of ours really want? ..Maurice.

7 Comments:

At Saturday, December 31, 2005 2:53:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

You know ... I believe that if you ask a youth that question, they may not give you the same answer as an elderly person.

The elderly person will be more likely to tell you that life is short ... the younger person to be so lost in his own callow conception of immortality that he's not even aware of how brief a time he's had to come to his conclusions.

Likewise ... I believe that the elderly person, by now well aware of his own mortality, would be more likely to tell you that they do not seek immortality ... while youth, still thinking of itself as immortal, would be quicker to try to find such an option for that time, so far in their future, when they might need it.

I honestly don't think that man knows what he wants along those lines ... and man certainly can't see the entire picture from either end of the trail.

You give us a lot of great information, Dr. Bernstein, and you ask a lot of piercing questions ... how about sharing a bit of what you believe ... ?

 
At Saturday, December 31, 2005 4:51:00 PM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

That's it, Moof, I am not sure what I believe. I have the feeling that the world is going to be challenged soon by the development of scientific tools for longevity and I think the world is not prepared for that at all. We can't even provide nourishment and care for many of the people already alive on this planet. We are disregarding scientific evidence of global warming which may affect how many of us will live in our remaining three score and ten years. Our world is not in peace. Will longvity prevent war and injustice? I think not. What needs to be done is invent a way to eliminate prejudice, eliminate mortal conflicts, eliminate the blindness of many to those in need, provide resources for making a long, long life a good life for those increasing millions and billions of humans who will then populate the earth as longevity becomes a reality. As things stand now, well, getting older to three score and ten and perhaps a few more years seems all that is practical, needed and wanted. ..Maurice.

 
At Saturday, December 31, 2005 6:00:00 PM, Anonymous Moof said...

"What needs to be done is invent a way to eliminate prejudice, eliminate mortal conflicts, eliminate the blindness of many to those in need [...]

Dr. Bernstein, what you're saying here is that we need to eliminate the human race! As long as there are people, prejudice, conflict and self-centeredness will thrive.

Perhaps you can envision some future utopia where mankind has finally become civilized and replaced ego with altruism, but I question if what life remains at that point will truly be human as we understand it.

What makes the true goodness blaze forth from our frail capacity to reach out and put others ahead of ourselves is the very fact that it's so rare. The "Mother Teresas" are not the human or social norm.

The conditions you ask for will only happen when there are so few men left, that there's no one left to envy, or resent, or look down on ...

However, as can be seen in an ongoing discussion over on Dr. Rangel's blog regarding Euthanasia ( Rangel on Assisted Suicide and Q&A on Assisted Suicide )- if man is able to open "Pandora's Box," he will do so.

I agree with you that "getting older to three score and ten and perhaps a few more years seems all that is practical, needed and wanted" ... completely! I just don't see the idea of immortality or a greatly increased life span as something to be set aside until we've ... evolved? ... because it's not going to be allowed to happen that way.

Due to scientific advancements, it will happen far too soon, because we are not wise enough to leave it alone until we're ready to tackle the problem in all of its aspects.

In fact, it could even be argued that we won't be ready until we are actually able to set it aside, and walk away from the box, leaving its mysteries unexplored.

 
At Tuesday, February 28, 2006 1:23:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does it say anywhere the time of death, such as noon, that Methuselah died?

 
At Friday, April 20, 2007 3:12:00 PM, Blogger Dr. Leonid Gavrilov, Ph.D. said...

Thank you for your interesting post!
I thought perhaps you may also find this related post on centenarian studies interesting to you too:
Longevity Science: NAAJ Paper
http://longevity-science.blogspot.com/2007/02/naaj-paper.html

 
At Wednesday, March 26, 2008 4:28:00 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

This poem that you mentioned as "Unknown Author" was written by Rex Hrusoff, a cook in the US Marine Corp during WWI.


Methuselah ate what he found on his plate
And never, as people do now,
Did he note the amount of the caloric count?
He ate it because it was chow.
He wasn’t disturbed, as a dinner he sat,
Destroying a roast or a pie,
To think it was lacking in lime or in fat,
Or a couple of vitamins shy.
He cheerfully chewed every species of food
Untroubled by worries or fears
Lest his health might be hurt by some fancy dessert—
And he lived over nine hundred years!

 
At Wednesday, March 26, 2008 8:33:00 AM, Blogger Maurice Bernstein, M.D. said...

A cook with a diner such as Methuselah must have had great pride in whatever was prepared for the meal. A diner being "picky" is probably NOT what most cooks appreciate. ..Maurice.

 

Post a Comment

<< Home