What's the best way to cure the world of religion? Cure it of death first!
Have you ever considered what would happen to religion if death was no longer a certainty? Or if death became unusual? There are many reasons people believe in gods and an afterlife, but death is by far the most powerful. The thought that you cease to exist is unsettling to most people, and religions have provided an alternative.
So what will happen to all of those fire-and-brimstone preachers when death is defeated?
According to Aubrey de Grey, the first person to live to 150 is probably already alive today ... and it could be you or me. And according to Dr. de Grey, the children being born today may live to be 1000 years old or more ... possibly forever.
The Strategies for Engineered Negligible Senescence Foundation (SENS), where de Grey is the chief science officer, is dedicated to "curing" aging. Scientists originally hoped to find an "aging gene" that could be turned off. That would have been simple given our modern understanding of genetics. But it turns out that aging has many components, each of which has to be independently solved. The initial optimism for a quick solution has turned into a long-term research effort.
But now there is real progress. With the incredible recent advances in genetics, drug design, biology, chemistry, computers and diagnostic instruments, hope is growing rapidly. Immortality is within reach.
The only question remaining is, "When?" Will I live to 150 or even longer? Or will it be my children or grandchildren? We don't know yet. All I can be certain of is that I should take good care of myself and live as long as I can. It would really suck to die with the "cure" almost at hand.
Immortality is going to be a huge problem for religion. Adam and Eve, who are at the heart of all three Abrahamic religions, lost their immortality in the Fall of Man when they ignored God's commands. It's the very foundation of Judeo-Christian-Islamic theology. (I wrote about this same topic on my birthday back in December, 2009: Will Immortality Piss Off God?)
It's like the Icarius story all over again, isn't it? Scientists are venturing into God's domain, and God is sure to be angry. It seems inevitable that the Abrahamic religions will condemn the science of immortality.
Or not. Maybe we'll just live forever, and religion will die instead of us. Wouldn't that be nice?