Is Dying a Disease?

Makalakumu

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People die of old age because their genetic material accumulates damage over time and thus their cells no longer function well. When the level of function reaches a tipping point, the whole system collapses. This is basically the moment of death.

With that being said, couldn't dying be classified as a disease? If so, what would be wrong with using biomolecular/genetic science to cure this disease? What would be the implications if "growing older" was curable?
 

Carol

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Interesting question!

But how do you propose that dying be cured ?

For if biotechnology is used to treat the disease, the end result would still a molecular mass that is subject to degredation over time, yes?

Dying therefore wouldn't be cured it would simply be treated, but a "remission" seems certain. :D
 
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Makalakumu

Makalakumu

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But how do you propose that dying be cured ?

For if biotechnology is used to treat the disease, the end result would still a molecular mass that is subject to degredation over time, yes?

Dying therefore wouldn't be cured it would simply be treated, but a "remission" seems certain. :D

Nice clarification, Carol. "Curing" dying would mean that you would have to completely halt the entropy that strives to tear your body apart. "Remission" on the other hand, indicates a continual winning battle with those forces. So, what if "permanent remission" became possible? Should it be?
 

Carol

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Nice clarification, Carol. "Curing" dying would mean that you would have to completely halt the entropy that strives to tear your body apart. "Remission" on the other hand, indicates a continual winning battle with those forces. So, what if "permanent remission" became possible? Should it be?

Well...the earth is an ecosystem built on many cycles, including the life cycles of living beings. If the lifecycle of humans were to be halted, then it would follow logically that eventually the humans would consume more than the earth could provide which would provide the end of all life on earth, not just us. That may not be a result seen in a generation or two but it seems certain that it would be something that would happen over time.

There are other aspects too. It is possible to extend life in many ways but it is much harder to improve or maintain the quality of life. I'm not sure if simply slowing/stopping the rate of entropy alone would result in a higher quality of life.

What will a person do with their life? My grandmother lived until she was 93. Even if I was looking at a doubling of those numbers...I'm not sure I want to work until I'm 130 years old simply so I can support myself until I'm 180. There is a certain peace in knowing that life is finite...at least in my view. :D
 

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People die of old age because their genetic material accumulates damage over time and thus their cells no longer function well. When the level of function reaches a tipping point, the whole system collapses. This is basically the moment of death.

No, not really. Our cells, and thus ourselves, have a built-in genetic lifespan. This is called senescence in cultured cells, when they stop dividing after a certain number of divisions. If it was due to genetic damage, then there is no mechanism by which an organism that only lives a short time, like a mouse or a mayfly, would die. Thus, in principle, changing the genetic limiters should stop senescent death, although we would still have to worry about other age related problems in our genome, like Alzheimers.

With that being said, couldn't dying be classified as a disease?

A disease is a derangement of normal function. Aging and death is a normal function, selected for by evolution. Thus, I don't think you can call it a disease.

If so, what would be wrong with using biomolecular/genetic science to cure this disease? What would be the implications if "growing older" was curable?

Well, we would still have the evolutionarily selected drives present that rely on older people passing on, like having kids. Obviously, a species of immortals having huge numbers of kids with no natural predators is a huge problem. We would have to control this problem, and it would probably involve quite a bit of intrusion into people's private lives, like China's one child policy.

Also, we would have to deal with alot of other age-related processes that aren't directly related to death. This includes Alzheimer's and prostate cancer, as well as collagen hardening (artery hardening). We could end up with a "Dorian Grey" type situation where we live to be 300 but are withered and unable to function. What is long life without long youth?
 

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Dying is not a disease, because dying is the end stage of life. To live is to begin to die, so the only absolute cure to death is to prevent life.

Death reaps the beauty of the world -
bundles old crops to hasten new.
Be still, heart:
hold peace.
Growing is better than decay:
I hear the blade which severs life from life.
Be still, peace:
hold heart.
Death is passing on -
The making way of life and time for life.
Hate dying and killing, not death.
Be still, heart:
make no expostulation.
Hold peace, and grief
and be still
Mhoram, pg 331, Lord Foul's Bane, Stephen Donaldson (bold added)
 

stickarts

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I see dying not as a disease but as something built into our design. Part of the natural cycle of life.

I am all for doing everything possible to prolong good health and quality :) life though!
 

mrhnau

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No, not really. Our cells, and thus ourselves, have a built-in genetic lifespan. This is called senescence in cultured cells, when they stop dividing after a certain number of divisions. If it was due to genetic damage, then there is no mechanism by which an organism that only lives a short time, like a mouse or a mayfly, would die. Thus, in principle, changing the genetic limiters should stop senescent death, although we would still have to worry about other age related problems in our genome, like Alzheimers.
Interesting... there is a group that thinks that the eventual shortening of the telomeres is responsible for this limited number of divisions. Each time replication occurs, there is a slight shortening of the end region of chromosomes. Would extension of life be as simple as extending that region?

As far as the specific question, it would not be as simple as a singular genetic cause. Our seperate organs were not designed to function forever. Accumulation of damage, wear and mistreatment is inevitable and eventually critical. No machine functions forever, and I think man is included in that... could it be extended? perhaps, but not ad inifinitum.
 

morph4me

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People die of old age because their genetic material accumulates damage over time and thus their cells no longer function well. When the level of function reaches a tipping point, the whole system collapses. This is basically the moment of death.

With that being said, couldn't dying be classified as a disease? If so, what would be wrong with using biomolecular/genetic science to cure this disease? What would be the implications if "growing older" was curable?

It seems to me that dying isn't the disease, life is. All of those symptoms start when you're born. That being said, I believe that dying is just the next phase of life. Infancy, adolesence, adulthood, death, unknown next phase.
 

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I don't think you can label dying as a disease. Setting aside the spiritual ramifications. Its natural progression. Your body lives, your body dies. If we were permitted to live this life forever. How many of us would want to? With all the ups,downs, and pain of this life. Who could take it forever? I am thankful that GOD's Word says that for believers. There is eternal peace beyond this life. The Scriptures say, "do not grow weary of well doing", for that reason. So in reality all who accept this. Will live forever.

1stJohn1:9
 

kidswarrior

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What will a person do with their life? My grandmother lived until she was 93. Even if I was looking at a doubling of those numbers...I'm not sure I want to work until I'm 130 years old simply so I can support myself until I'm 180. There is a certain peace in knowing that life is finite...at least in my view. :D

And I share your view. Reaching the halfway point and beyond caused me to see that I was not the center of the universe (as I'd thought :D), to begin to ask different questions such as what would I have done with my time/what would I leave? And this in turn caused me to let go of lesser-priorities, to identify and focus on that which was really important. To me, these are all good things. So the certainty of death brought a clarity to life. A pretty good trade, if you ask me. :)
 
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Makalakumu

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Interesting discussion so far and I see alot of validity in many of the points made. However, I would like to point out the following...

1. If not for modern medicine, most of us wouldn't be here. Disease and other injuries would have take the bulk of us out around 35. So, is our current lifespan, unnatural?

2. There are alot of current measures that we could take that would increase our lifespan even further. For example, some supplements and caloric restriction have proven to add substantial amounts to mammalian lifespans. If humans were to implement this, would it be unnatural?

3. Technology in the future, in the form of nanotechnology, promises to actually build or rebuild biologic material. This could, in effect, reverse aging.

With that being said, if you could, at least, double your lifespan, would you? How about longer?

Also, what really is natural? Aren't humans part of nature? So how can anything we do be "unnatural?"
 

morph4me

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Interesting discussion so far and I see alot of validity in many of the points made. However, I would like to point out the following...

1. If not for modern medicine, most of us wouldn't be here. Disease and other injuries would have take the bulk of us out around 35. So, is our current lifespan, unnatural?

2. There are alot of current measures that we could take that would increase our lifespan even further. For example, some supplements and caloric restriction have proven to add substantial amounts to mammalian lifespans. If humans were to implement this, would it be unnatural?

3. Technology in the future, in the form of nanotechnology, promises to actually build or rebuild biologic material. This could, in effect, reverse aging.

With that being said, if you could, at least, double your lifespan, would you? How about longer?

Also, what really is natural? Aren't humans part of nature? So how can anything we do be "unnatural?"

Since humans are part of nature, and survival is a natural instinct, it would be unatural not to want to extend our lifespans. The problem is that there is a balance to nature and a limit to resources, and when resources are scarce human beings tend to get what they need by destroying other human beings, and if they don't, resources run out and everybody dies. So in our search for immortality, we are ushering in our own demise. Interesting paradox.
 
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Makalakumu

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One of the interesting things about nature is that is always seems to figure out new ways to come to balance, despite a species evolutionary steps. If humans were to greatly enhance their lifespan, or stop aging altogether, what would the new balance look like?

Another interesting aspect of this conversation is the prospects of Strong AI. This is basically the development of computers that could encompass sentience on human scales or higher. What if we were able to download our minds into this format so that it preserved our consciousness?

Would this present an avenue for eternal life? What would this mean in regards to the human soul...if such a thing really exists?
 

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People die of old age because their genetic material accumulates damage over time and thus their cells no longer function well. When the level of function reaches a tipping point, the whole system collapses. This is basically the moment of death.

With that being said, couldn't dying be classified as a disease? If so, what would be wrong with using biomolecular/genetic science to cure this disease? What would be the implications if "growing older" was curable?

they die coz their fuel runs out :D
 

someguy

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Dying is not a disease. It is what a disease causes. Maybe you could say that genetic damage is a disease but not death. Death is the end result. It's like moving and running. To run is to move. To move is not to run.
The implications would be that people would have to have more creative ways of dying. Suicide rates would probably go up however. I mean how long can you stand to live if your memories are full? Wouldn't it be a pain after a while?
 

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