“You are immortal until you prove otherwise.”
“…to be physically immortal means to stop death working in our own bodies – and to do that we have to eliminate any possibility from our cells.”
“…if you really want to live forever, you’d better be willing to do whatever is necessary to take the death out of your life every day.”
“Being physically immortal, however, doesn’t mean you can’t die, it means you have the opportunity not to.”
-Quotes from http://www.physical-immortality-now.com
One day, early in the research for my science fiction novel about immortality, the above statements took me by surprise. Hoping to narrow my search results down to sites that only addressed immortality of the human body, I googled the words, “physical immortality.” Based on the results I found, physical immortality is a belief that death is an illusion and you can live forever in your current body, if you choose to. I had never heard of it so I glanced at http://www.physical-immortality-now.com and http://onelight.com/immortal/10components.htm to see what it is about. From what I can tell the practice of physical immortality involves special diets, a new way of thinking, and possibly, crystals (If anyone out there practices this let me know, I want to make sure I represented it fairly).
This search and its unexpected results taught me that there are many types of immortality. Descriptions of just a few follow and I’ll note which ones this blog focuses on most;
Biological Immortality– This is exhibited by animals like the Hydra, an organism that can survive and divide indefinitely without aging or death. Sturgeons are long-lived fish that are biologically immortal because they continue growing and cell division constantly replaces old damaged cells. Only accidents, predation, or an unsuitable environment kill organisms that are biologically immortal. I will be looking in-depth at this type of immortality and if it can be applied to humans.
Fictional Immortality– Thanks to fiction and comic books we have hundreds of varieties of fictional immortality. The elves in Lord of the Rings exhibit immortality through longevity: they never age, but they can die from accidents or battle injuries. Greek gods and those they chose to protect have immortality through godhood. Wolverine of Marvel Comics fame has regenerative immortality. Incidentally, that is the immortality type the characters in my novel experience, and it’s brought about by stem cells (more posts about those are on the way).
Medical Immortality– With advances in medicine, we could imagine a world where disease can be eliminated and even severe physical injury and death might be reversed. In one of my favorite novels, Counting Heads by David Marusek, one of the character is in a horrible space yacht crash and her helmet severs her head on impact and keeps it safe so her body can be regenerated at a hospital. Far fetched, but at one time people thought a moon landing was impossible.
Physical Immortality– This was discussed above. It’s a belief that even today, without the aid of technology, you can choose to live in a way that will allow you and others to survive in your current physical bodies, forever.
Spiritual/Religious Immortality– Whether in the form of an immortal soul that lives on after physical death, or reincarnation, believers in this is a type of immortality may clash with other definitions. I’m interested in that clash from time to time on this blog.
Symbolic Immortality– This is what lives on in human memory once someone dies. Someone symbolically Immortal may be a famous person, but we all have symbolic immortality to those who know us. What do you think will be symbolically immortal about you?
Technological Immortality– This type of immortality encompasses everything from uploading your consciousness into an immortal holographic avatar, to nanomachines that could replace damaged organs or repair cellular damage related to aging.
These are only a few general types of immortality. You can imagine that human immortality, if it’s possible, will require a mixture of more than one type. Or, maybe it already exists in a spiritual realm. No matter what you believe, there is one question you can answer today…
Which type of immortality do you prefer?