Wonderfully Made to Live, Not Die
IF AGING could only be postponed! Do you long for such a breakthrough? Why, yes. Who would not like to escape wrinkles, gray hair, brittle bones, loss of stamina, forgetfulness, vulnerability to sickness, and finally death?
Since the commercial system knows how people feel about aging, advertisements appeal to a desire to camouflage or postpone its effects. The subject is often featured in magazine articles and books. Some make amazing claims. The Complete Book of Longevity begins like this:
“Some of you who are reading these words may be among the first of the immortals. With the diseases of aging—and the mechanism of death itself—about to fall to the advancing armies of science, the question is not whether the immortality breakthrough will occur . . . but how to stay alive until it does.”
From what science has already achieved, is there any real basis for such optimism?
Has Science Increased Man’s Life Span?
During this century, the developed countries of the world have experienced a dramatic increase in life expectancy. For example, in the year 1900 the average life expectancy of men in the United States was 46 years. “From 1900 to 1980 male life expectancy at birth increased 51% to 69.9 years,” states the American Journal of Gerontology. Now it is 71.8 years for men and 78.8 years for women. A number of other countries have an even higher life expectancy, with Japan the highest—74.2 years for men and 79.8 years for women. Does this prove that man’s life span has been extended?
The dramatic increases noted above are due largely to a lower infant-mortality rate. Today, more babies survive to adulthood than in past centuries. “Medical advances,” explains The Body Book, “have increased average life expectancy, but they have not increased the maximum life span.” As Brian Stableford, a biologist at the University of Reading, England, expressed it in his book Future Man: “Our lifespan has been reckoned since Biblical times as 70 years, and although two thousand years of scientific advancement have allowed many more people to reach that term, scientists have so far done nothing to extend it.”
Stableford was referring to words penned 3,500 years ago by the ancient Israelite Moses: “In themselves the days of our years are seventy years; and if because of special mightiness they are eighty years, yet their insistence is on trouble and hurtful things.” (Psalm 90:10) ‘Why,’ you may wonder, ‘has modern medicine been unable to change this fact of life?’
Aging—According to Science
Aging is such a common experience that few people question why it happens. To the scientific mind, however, aging has long been a puzzle. Why? “It seems to conflict with the drive to survive that underlies most bodily activities,” explains the book The Living Body, by Karl Sabbagh. How close are scientists to understanding the cause of aging?
“There is no single theory that explains all of the phenomena of aging.”—The New Encyclopædia Britannica.
“The contemporary student of aging is faced with more theories than a centipede has legs.”—Dr. Gairdner Moment, professor emeritus of biological sciences.
“Many gerontologists will agree that these are highly muddled times for us. We neither know what is the underlying mechanism of aging, nor are we able to measure the rate of aging in precise biochemical terms.”—Journal of Gerontology, September 1986.
“The parable of the blind man trying to describe an elephant also illustrates the problems of researchers in aging.”—Dr. C. E. Finch, professor of biology and gerontology.
One way to explain aging, as suggested in the book The Living Body, is that cells have “a built-in clock” that allows them to reproduce until “it is time to stop.” What, though, about brain cells, which do not reproduce after birth? Most neurons survive from the person’s birth on into old age. Thus, in the case of a centenarian, the same neurons have functioned for a hundred years.
Yet, millions of neurons die during the life of a human, and the neuron death rate increases with age. Another theory of aging is that cells gradually function less efficiently because of wear and tear. “But since living systems can repair and rebuild themselves, why aren’t these capabilities used fully to fix up the wear and tear?” asks Dr. Richard Cutler in the book The Biology of Aging. “Another difficulty with the wear-and-tear hypothesis,” he adds, “is how to explain the wide range of life-spans characteristic of different mammalian species.”
Chimpanzees have a life expectancy of 40 years, and the gorilla, which is bigger, one of only 30 years. Why do humans live so much longer if aging is due to wear and tear? Why do some reptiles, like the giant tortoise, outlive man? And why do some forms of life seem to last indefinitely?
A Lesson From the Smallest and the Largest
Consider for a moment the organism called amoeba. “This one-celled protozoan,” states the magazine Science Digest, “doesn’t die, physically speaking. Its one cell divides into two, and both halves are livelier than when they were as one.” Among one-celled organisms, the amoeba is no exception. As Dr. Tracy Sonneborn emphasizes in the book The Biology of Aging: “Many lower forms of life . . . do not undergo natural aging or death; they can go on living, growing, reproducing forever in full vigor.”
What about higher forms of life made up of many cells? Sequoia trees are the largest living things on earth. Fires bring death to young sequoias, but some survive to become giants of the forest. As their reddish bark thickens, they become more resistant to the threat of fire. Indeed, the fire-resistant bark may be over two feet [0.6 m] thick.
Sometimes fire penetrates the bark and scars the trunk of a redwood. Trees thus weakened may topple under their great weight. Another danger is soft soil or soil erosion, which may cause a sequoia to lean to one side. To keep the tree upright, however, an amazing mechanism causes extra growth of the trunk and branches on the opposite side. If this fails, it may suddenly crash to the ground. But death because of old age has not been recorded so far.
States the book Giant Sequoias: “The largest and the oldest-appearing trees continue to grow with apparent vigor, putting down annual layers of wood whose volume is about the same as in previous centuries. Individuals that continue to be free of fire damage and remain upright might well live to the great ages sometimes predicted for them.”
Contrast this with plants that annually blossom and die. “Annuals,” observes Dr. Carl Leopold, an expert in plant research, “are programmed to die after a single season’s growth, whereas other species may persist for exceedingly long times. Famous for longevity are the sequoia trees, with life spans as long as 3000 years.”
If sequoias are designed to live so long, why not man? If one-celled organisms can keep reproducing without aging, why not the cells of the human body? And if it can keep nonreproducing cells, like neurons, for a hundred years, why not forever?
While scientists struggle to find the cause of aging, many have found an answer from another source. The Bible is a book that claims to be inspired by man’s Creator, Jehovah God. (2 Timothy 3:16) If it is, then the Bible should supply a satisfying answer to the question that perplexes human scientists. Does it?
Aging—According to the Bible
According to the Bible, man was created perfect, with the prospect of living forever. This was held before him as a reward for passing a simple test of obedience. Our first parents were commanded not to eat the fruit of a certain tree called “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad.” The tree served as a loving reminder to them of God’s invisible presence and of his authority to determine what is good and what is bad for his creatures. Jehovah God clearly warned them: “In the day you eat from it you will positively die.”—Genesis 2:16, 17; 3:3.
Sadly, the first man and woman rebelled and ate the forbidden fruit. Being a God of truth, their Creator was impelled to keep his word, and thus he sentenced them to death. The Bible does not contain the biologic details of how God did this. What we do know, however, is that Adam and Eve passed on their sinful state to their offspring. As the Bible explains: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12.
This is a judgment that no human scientist can reverse. But Jehovah God, the Maker of the human body, knows how to do it. Lovingly, he provided his Son, Jesus Christ, to ransom the offspring of Adam and Eve. All who show appreciation for this provision will eventually be freed from aging and death.—John 3:16.
You Can Enjoy Life Forever in Paradise
The fact that our original parents were made to live, not die, is something marvelous to contemplate. It is an aid in grasping this thrilling promise: “The creation . . . will be set free from enslavement to corruption and have the glorious freedom of the children of God.”—Romans 8:21.
Accordingly, what Adam and Eve lost will eventually be restored to many of their offspring. Consider what that can mean for you. Our first parents lived in the most beautiful setting that has ever existed on earth. According to the Bible, “Jehovah God planted a garden in Eden, toward the east, and there he put the man whom he had formed. Thus Jehovah God made to grow out of the ground every tree desirable to one’s sight and good for food.”—Genesis 2:8, 9.
Picture all those majestic trees to satisfy their sense of sight and the variety of attractive fruit trees to satisfy their sense of taste. Add to this the variety of wildlife—an endless source of fascinating research. As the Bible says: “Now Jehovah God was forming from the ground every wild beast of the field and every flying creature of the heavens, and he began bringing them to the man to see what he would call each one; and whatever the man would call it, each living soul, that was its name.”—Genesis 2:19.
In addition to all of this, Adam and Eve were given a satisfying purpose in life. They were to raise a large family. Then, as their family grew, they were to subdue the rest of the earth, transforming it into a global paradise. But this massive project could turn out successfully only if they submitted to the direction of their heavenly Creator.—Genesis 1:26.
Since they chose to act independently of God, thousands of years of misery, sickness, aging, and death resulted. But before driving our first parents out of that Paradise garden, Jehovah God made a statement that is recorded for our benefit: “‘Here the man has become like one of us in knowing good and bad, and now in order that he may not put his hand out and actually take fruit also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite,—’ With that Jehovah God put him out of the garden of Eden.”—Genesis 3:22, 23.
If our first parents had proved obedient under test, they would have been allowed to eat from that “tree of life,” symbolizing God’s reward to them of everlasting life. This, then, is further proof that man was made to live, not die.
God’s purpose has not changed. (Isaiah 55:11) Jesus confirmed this on the day of his death. To a repentant thief who died alongside him, Jesus promised: “You will be with me in Paradise.” (Luke 23:42, 43) Soon, during Jesus Christ’s reign from heaven, he will ensure that the earth is transformed into a paradise. Then that thief, along with billions of other human dead, will be resurrected back to life. If such resurrected ones ‘do good things,’ they will never die again; their resurrection will turn out to be “a resurrection of life.”—John 5:28, 29.
But the Bible also refers to “a great crowd . . . out of all nations” who will never need a resurrection at all. These are people alive today who exercise faith in Jehovah God and his Son, Jesus Christ. They will survive on earth when God destroys all wickedness during the coming “great tribulation.” Thereafter they will continue being guided “to fountains of waters of life”—yes, endless life in a paradise earth.—Revelation 7:9, 10, 14, 17.
Already this international “great crowd” numbers into the millions. You too can be included among them. How? By trusting in Jehovah God and his provision for salvation. Then, if you continue to follow what is recorded at Proverbs 3:5, 6 and John 3:16, you will personally experience that man was made to live, not die.—Revelation 21:3-5.
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Who does not want to escape the effects of aging?
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Millions alive today will experience personally that man was made to live, not die
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The ravages of the aging process will be reversed in God’s new world