This is an excerpt of my book, ” The Holy Way Towards the City of God.” I decided to publish it here for those interested in knowing what the Bible and other holy scriptures say about aging and death.
Death comes to all of us, so as they say. For those who don’t fear death, don’t fear death–okey.
Why is it important for us to always be mindful of our mortality? Well, it reminds those among us who think they are invincible, that they are the most powerful and the strongest among us, would also suffer the same fate as everyone would.
We have short lives in this earth. Let us make it memorable and helpful to those who live among us.
Gerontologists know that man’s biological limit is generally now at 115, but some say, even at 122 years old. Geneticist Jan Vijg and his team from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in the Bronx discovered that this apparent limit is a fixed genetic trait that evolved under the direct force of natural selection. It may even be an evolutionary adaptation. Olshansky made a term for this—“programmed aging” which he says, can be understood years from now and probably even be possible for manipulation in this generation.
“We will need to discover something fundamentally different, “ says Olshansky, “that allows us to slow the biological process of aging in order to break through this barrier. I’m optimistic this will happen in our lifetime.”
Science has discovered that men’s lives do have specific endings and this depends on what they call telomeres.
From the Greek words “telos” or “end” and Meres” or “part”, telomeres are essential parts of the human cells that affect how we age. They are caps at the end of each strand of our DNA that protect our chromosomes or critical information about our DNA.
Graphically, think of them as like those plastic tips at the end of shoelaces. Without the plastic coating, shoelaces become frayed until they can no longer function properly.
Since the 1930’s, scientists already know how telomeres affect our DNA. Whenever our cells replicate or copies itself, telomeres becomes shorter, until it attains a very short length that it is unable to protect our chromosomes anymore, causing our cells to age. Hence, telomeres serves as a barometer, a clock that measures our biological age, not our chronological age.
A 2010 study from Harvard Medical School showed telomere shortening to be a root cause of cellular aging. Recent findings show that stress, smoking, obesity, lack of exercise and unhealthy diet shorten our telomeres. Of course, environmental factors increase the possibility of telomese shortening. American anatomist Leonard Hayflick observed in 1961 that senescence follows shortly after a cell has stopped dividing itself which occurs after 40 to 70 cell divisions.
Meaning, death is inevitable for multiple celled organisms like us. For single celled organisms, replication occurs several times that explains why they can live several hundreds or even thousands of years.
Scientists were able to observe and revive a 500,000 year old bacteria obtained from the Salt lakes at Utah.
However, there is a microscopic multicelled animal that survives a remarkable array of lethal stresses with its amazing ability to resurrect itself when faced with threats to its life. For 250 years, scientists have failed to crack the secret why Tardigrades are able to resurrect themselves from their death-like states.
In 2017, Dr. Thomas C. Boothby (2017) discovered that this animal has a type of protein unique to itself called Tardigrade- specific intrinsically Disordered ProteinS or TDPS. What these TDPs do is they form glass-like structures that preserve the cells of the animal while it is in a dehydrated state. By protecting its cells from further destruction, tardigardes are able to survive threats to its existence. (Thomas C. Boothby, Hugo Tapia, Alexandra H. Brozena, etal.,” Tardigrades Use Intrinsically Disordered Proteins to survive desiccation,” Published in the Journal Cell, Vol. 65, Issue 6, p975-984.e5, 16 March 2017. See also at http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molcel.2017.02.018). Other resurrection biologists identified other species of animals with abilities like the tardigrades such as the microscopic briny shrimps, nematode worms, and the larvae of an African fly called sleeping chironomid. An unusual sugar protein called trehalose freezes these animals’ proteins and membranes, and maintains their structures.
There are other animals who have lifespans longer than ours. A Quahog clam can live up to 225 years and one recently died which scientists say lived to about 507 years.
Deep sea creatures like the orange roughy can live up to 175 years which is a tad shorter than the bowhead whale which typically lives as old as 200 years old. For land-based animals, the world’s oldest is Jonathan, an 183 year old Aldabra giant tortoise in Africa.
Scientists now know that these animals live longer lives due to environmental factors. Animals who live in colder climates usually live longer lives than those in temperate ones because they have slower metabolisms than those who live in hotter climates. Diet is also a factor. Aldambra tortoise eat a unique diet which allows it to live long lives.
Men are genetically formed without these abilities. Though many are suggesting of just replacing our old worn parts with new ones when they reach their usefulness; this idea remains highly questionable because that would actually redefine what we mean when we say a particular being is human or not.
The Methuselah Gene
Sometime in 2002, scientists discovered what they call the “Methuselah” gene pool which they suspect to be behind the longer than average lifespans of certain individuals. They tagged these genes “Methuselah” after that Biblical personality who lived the longest among ancient Biblical and non- Biblican personalities.
An article written by Carl Weiss show that several biblical personalities lived a ripe old age of about 800-900 years old during the pre-Flood era. Longevity then slowly declined after the Great flood. Yes, several descendants of Enoch and Methuselah like Noah and the rest of his brood managed to still live more than 120 years old, but it seemed strange that King David, who was a favored person by God, only managed to live 65 years and his son who was given the wisdom of the gods, King Solomon did lived only for seventy one years.
What separates the pre-flood super geron with those of post-flood gerons? One possible factor is environmental. Those who lived during Enoch’s time existed in an environment that makes it entirely possible for the body to manage environmental stresses, thereupon, extending life spans. Or, it is also entirely possible that these people fed upon the right diet which allows cell regeneration or stop cell mutation.
Theistic creationist believe diet change might have a correlation to limitations on life spans. In Genesis 1:29-30, we find God commanding men to eat plant-yielding seed and every tree-yielding seed as food. God did not command men to eat meat, or even cook food. The command was very specific—eat every plant-yielding seed and every tree-yielding seed as food.
There is no reference to the bible about Adam and Eve cooking their food, hence, we assume that they followed God’s command of eating only plant yielding seeds and tree-yielding seeds. Which chapter then in the Bible that changed this diet?
We find that in Genesis when the “sons of God cohabited with the daughters of men.” That miscegeneration produced giants of old which if you read the passage closely, suggested a thirst for blood. These giants might have started the eating of meats to satiate their extremely vociferous hunger.
Since one cannot eat venison without cooking it under fire, there are some proof that, indeed, cooking food lessened or shorten men’s life span because it was obvious that men who lived after Adam failed to even reach their progenitors’ age upon death.
Enoch’s son Methuselah however did surpass Adam’s age and we must ask ourselves—what kind of life did Methuselah lived at that time that enabled him to extend his life beyond Adam’s. He must have been doing something right. Methuselah was said to have lived 965 years and died before the flood came.
When Enoch was taken up to heaven, he left behind several advices to Methuselah. This knowledge which Enoch got from his experiences and the imparted knowledge from heaven must have been the one which guided Methuselah to live at an advanced age.
We can live longer lives if we can find a way to protect our cells from ageing. Some animals have this capability of protecting their genes from destruction. We don’t— naturally of course.
There are however supercentenarians who did lived nine times longer than most of us now. How did they do it? How did they manage to live long lives when we know that their lives back then was very basic.
Doctors such as Dr. Shioneki Hinohara observed Japanese supercentenarians and wrote that these people who reach the ripe old age of 100 plus have very common shared traits—they sleep 8 hours a day, live in a less stressful environment, does not smoke and only take in sugary foods once a week. This means that ageing and even death can be conquered provided that we, humans live in a different environment and if we live according to the ways of those before us—simply and according to God’s will.