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Currently, physicians have got the know-how and advanced technology which can help to maintain the patient’s physical life. Doctors are now able to sustain the patient’s life for a long time, although the quality may be much lower than what the patient would have expected. In the past, illness, diseases, accidents, and age bore a great threat to the human life. Nowadays, the modern technology can help to keep people alive. A variety of vaccines and drugs are now available for the prevention of diseases, curing infections, treating heart attacks, and controlling a number of other medical problems. In fact, research studies are underway to produce a gene that can prolong the human life beyond the
The Scientific Aspects When Medical Technology Prolongs Humans Lives Twice
Some aspects of the medical technology can now help to keep humans alive for weeks, months, years, and even for decades, far beyond the expected limit, if human were to survive naturally without technological intervention. Prolonging human life is such a blessing of incomparable significance since people can live happily and with high productivity.
The life extension science, anti-ageing medicine, biomedical gerontology, or experimental gerontology involves a study which attempts to slow down or reverse the ageing process to such an extent of maximum or average lifespan. Physicians in this field and “longevists” or “life extensionists” and who may wish to have longer lives themselves, believe that the future successes in tissue rejuvenation using stem cells, organ replacements like using artificial organs, and molecular repair are feasible. They believe that the move will enable humans to live indefinite lifespan by total renewal to a healthy and a youthful life.
In the market, there is a lucrative promotion and selling of putative anti-ageing products like nutrition, skin care, physical fitness, hormone replacements, supplements, vitamins, and herbs. In fact, United States market is generating up to about $ 50 billion in annual revenues. According to the medical experts, the use those products have not been proven to affect the process of ageing, and a lot of arguments by the anti-ageing advocates have received a lot of criticisms by the medical experts.
The diets and supplements are the main focus of research and are viewed as a means of extending lifespan. The free-radical theory based on ageing explains that the antioxidant supplements like vitamin E, vitamin C, Q10, Carnosine, and lipoic acid have the potential of extending life.
Several anti-ageing hormone therapies have been criticized that they present possible dangers to the patients since they lack a proven effect. The American Medical Association is the leading in criticizing the anti-ageing hormone therapies. The evidence of growth hormone use as anti-ageing therapy is centered on animal studies. In an early study, mice, which were supplemented with growth hormone, showed an increase in the average life expectancy. Continued animal experiments have revealed in contrary that some growth hormone can generally shorten maximum lifespan. However, mouse models that lacked some insulin-like growth factors lived long and possessed some low levels of the growth hormone. There are some scientific controversies concerning anti-ageing nutrient supplement and medicine. Some critics do not regard ageing as a disease. Leonard Hayflick established that fibroblasts have a limitation of about 50 cell divisions, meaning that ageing is as a result of entropy.
There are some proposed strategies of some future advances aimed at life extension. The nanotechnology or nanomedicine can lead to life extension by repair of many processes, which are believed to be the causes of ageing. Some researchers like Raymond Kurzwell, who is a transhumanist and futurist have some believe that some advanced nanorobotics may completely reverse ageing effects by the year 2030.
Some life extensionists argue that the stem cell research and therapeutic cloning have the potential of providing a way of generating cells, body parts, and even the entire body. This is often referred to as reproductive cloning, and it generates cells which are genetically identical to that of the prospective patient. In the recent past, the US Department of Defense started a program to find out the possibility propagating the human body parts on the mice. However, it is difficult to replicate complex body parts like mammalian joints and limbs. In fact, experiments on the dog and primate transplantation were tried in mid twentieth century, but it failed due to tissue rejection and the complications which related to restoring the nervous connections. By 2006, the implantation and growth of biologically engineered bladders became viable for the treatment of the bladder disease. The supporters of the body parts replacement and cloning agree that the required biotechnologies for such scientific research will appear earlier than the life-extension technologies.
The most controversial aspect of human-scientific research is the use of the stem cells, especially the embryonic stem cells. The objections are mainly based on the religious interpretations or existing ethical implications. On their part, the proponents of the stem cell research argue that, in life, it is a routine for cells to be formed and destroyed in various contexts. According to them, use of stem cells from umbilical cord or any other part of the human body is not controversial. The controversies surrounding cloning are related, but the general opinions in most of the countries oppose reproductive cloning, since it its effects are unpredictable.
The genetic manipulation to prolong life can lead to unknown effects
Other proponents of cloning look forward to the formation of whole bodies, which are lacking consciousness for eventual brain transplantation.
The Impact Medical Technology on Religion
The fifth commandment and the natural law supports all the ordinary ways of preserving life like use of food, water, medical care, and exercise. However, the Catholic Church has long recognized that humans are not obliged morally to seek any medical treatment in order to save their own lives. Treatments which are sorrowful to the patient like amputation and which increase the suffering of the person in the risk of dying are morally extraordinary or obligatory. The medical means can be ordinary medically, yet morally extraordinary. Some people have undergone medical treatment in the past so as to save life, but live in semi-conscious or comatose states, and unable to live in with no technical assistance in one way or another.
The battle of science against ageing has been continuous. It seems that some earliest attempts to slow down ageing and prolong life started within the Christian tradition. Franciscan Roger in his thirteen-century writing “De Retardatione Accidentum Senectutis”, argued that death and ageing can be put off by means of scientific research about the ageing process, in order to discover the hidden forces of nature. This situation entailed a hygienic regime in which a lot of attention was focused on cleanliness, limited-food intake, and taking in of certain medicines. These are, in fact, the issues which prevailed in the catholic cultures during the middle ages and they seem to share some perspectives and hopes with the modern medical technologies. This drive to put off death and prolong life was later embraced by proponents such as Descartes and Francis Bacon.
Christians like Cole-Turner argued in support for life extension by the use of genetic engineering. His case of defense is that genetic engineering generally entails God’s continuing creation and redemption activities in the world. He argued in support of the Christian tradition that nature is good, but the disorders came about as a result of the sin of Adam and eve while in the Garden of Eden. The Christians, therefore, believe that the earth the way it appears is not what God intends due to the disorders against the creation.
How Religion Will Respond Given Their Principles and Doctrines
A person’s dignity needs to be seen in every human being right from the time of conception until natural death. This perception is a center of biomedical research, which is of a great value in today’s world. The magnetism of religion or the church has often intervened in order to resolve and classify some of the moral questions involving the biomedical technologies. The religious teachings have been based on the principles of morals. The new biomedical technologies, which have been introduced in the human life, have led to questions on the research of human embryos. This is more specifically on the use of stem cells for purposes of therapy and in the fields of experimental medicine.
The conviction of the church is that what is human is respected and received by faith and is elevated, purified, and perfected. By expressing some ethics in some recent medical research on man and his beginnings, the church may not intervene directly in the medical science, but it can assist by calling everyone to the ethical and social responsibility for their deeds.
The church argues that it is unethical and unacceptable to delink procreation from the integral context in the conjugal act. The procreation among human is an act of husband and wife, which is not capable of being substituted. The technical procedures of abortion in the cases of in vitro fertilization are infiltrating the modern society. The church considers the issues concerning the desire to have a child and does not downplay the couples who are struggling with the problems of fertility.
Some researchers lack the ethics and are aware of the inherent possibilities of the technological process. They surrender to pure desires and economic pressures. Prolonging of human life is a focus of discussion in the church. Some people view that it is against the moral teaching of the church. Others base their views on the reality that the advancement of science to promote the extension of human life, is in recognition of the gift of knowledge, love, and freedom that God gave to humans. Man has an obligation to invest the knowledge or intellectual activities to improve the lives of others. This means that man is participating in the creative power that God Himself portrayed to mankind.
There are a number of criticisms about trashumanism, since the act is perceived as “playing God”. The criticisms are both secular and theological. Theological criticism is based on the belief that humans are starting to imitate and act as the actual god. This view is exemplified in the Vatican statement of 2002 on communion and stewardship. Humans were created in god’s image, and, therefore, to change the genetics of the human person by attempting to produce the infrahuman being is quite immoral. This means that man has a full disposal right over own biological nature. Besides, the statement means that the creation of a superhuman or superior human being is unreasonable since the actual improvement should come from religious experience or from God His own love. The theologians of the Christian faith and activists of other denominations have equally objected to transhumanism. The claim is that the Christians already enjoy the biblical promise of indefinite life extension, where all the suffering will be done away with.
Other religious arguments about transhumanism is the fact that it is morally wrong that humans are tampering with their fundamental rights by trying to reverse the universal limitations like vulnerability to a maximum life span or ageing, and the physical or cognitive ability. The attempts by humans to improve themselves by manipulating their genes eliminate the human feelings of humanity. This is because if human beings are living in a world where there are no limitations, lives will seem not to have any meaning, since any limitations to life could be overcome by use of gene technology.
Other critics point out that the liberalization of transhumanism will lead to socio-economic consequences in the society. They argue that the act will lead to a wider gap between the poor and the rich due to the question of how affordable the technology is to the all in the society. Bill Mc Kibben suggests that the human enhanced technology aimed at bettering life will be only available to those who are well endowed with resources, and this leads to a genetic divide whereby the rich will afford using the gene technology while the poor may not access the same services. These views have been supported by scientists Like Lee Silver who coined the biological term “reprogenetics”, and supported its application. The concern here is that the methods applied will create a two-tiered society consisting of the “haves” and the “have nots” concerning accessibility to genetic engineering. This will happen if the social democratic reforms continue to lag behind in its implementation of life enhancement technologies. However, critics of these arguments do not accept the transhumanist assumption of a positive value for human enhancement. They suggest from their arguments that the act should be not be supported or even banned since it confer additional advantage to those who are already powerful. They cite an example of the dystopian society whereby the social class entirely depends on the genetic modifications.
The criticisms are also voiced by the non-libertarian advocates of transhumanism, especially the self-proclaimed democratic transhumanists who think that most of the current and future environmental and social issues like resource depletion and unemployment should be addressed by employing both the political and technical solutions like guaranteed minimal income, coupled with alternative technology. Many have argued that democratic societies must respond to the issue of redesigning the future humans whereby progressives or techno-progressives should articulate and implement policies like a universal healthcare voucher system which covers the human enhanced technologies. Their argument is that with blatant prohibitions on the use of the technology, others can still practice in unsafe ways, and it will only be available in the local black market.
There is a potential threat of transhumanism on morality and democracy. The fears expressed include the fact that the various practices and institutions, which are judged as fundamental to a civilized society might be destroyed by such a technology. Politicians and economists have supported the fact that transhumanism is a dangerous idea in the world since it may undermine some egalitarian ideals of general democracy, particularly liberal democracy by a fundamental change of the human nature. Social philosophers have made a similar argument that the moral autonomy should never be subjected to unilateral decisions like the embryo stage genetic alteration. Christians hold that an attempt to alter human biology is inherently immoral and threatens the social order. They also argue that if such technologies are implemented, it will lead to “naturalizing of social strata or establish a new way of control to be exploited by the totalitarian regimes.
The religious arguments have been substantially supported by critics of emerging technologies that attempt to alter the human biology. The perceived risk is that humans can lead themselves to their own extinction when they develop technologies which are fronted by transhumanists. In the television series connections, James Burke, a science historian dissects a number of views on the technological change which include restriction to open inquiry and precautionism. The trashumanist view is that of pragmatism, whereby the society deliberately intend for an early arrival of benefits like clean, safe, alternative technology rather than promoting what is considered technophobia and anti-scientific views.
There are number controversies surrounding the use of various drugs to extend human life. Anti-aging medicine, biomedical gerontology, and experimental gerontology concerns reversing the ageing process to extend the average and maximum lifespan. “Life Extensionists” believe in the breakthroughs concerning tissue rejuvenation using stem cells, organ replacement, and molecular repair, which will eventually enable human beings to encounter indefinite life spans by having complete rejuvenation of the youthful condition. The anti-ageing therapies are raising controversies in science and religion
The scientific views that ageing are a disease has been supported by medical organizations. Many religious organizations also believe that ageing is universal and inevitable but the diseases are not. Most of the religious organizations do not entirely oppose life extension arguing that life is God’s gift and is worth living. Therefore, they support the development and administration of life extension therapies to those who wish to have.
Some critics argue against the tendency of people to portray ageing as a disease. They perceive ageing as an inevitable consequence of entropy. They perceive those who are marketing the anti-ageing supplements as just doing unscrupulous profiteering. These anti-ageing industries are offering several hormone therapies. Some have been criticized that they can present some dangers to patients since they have no proven effect.
The issue on whether to prolong life or allow death to occur naturally is not only a scientific debate, but it also prevails in homes, hospitals, and homes. Since the earliest centuries, the church has been focusing on acts that oppose life like suicide, murder, and euthanasia. Theologians now questions how much effort one should put to stay alive, with a possibility of using medicine and surgery. They question whether it is sinful to oppose life extension efforts if they present prohibitive expenses, grave suffering and other serious challenges. The church has a role to play in public policy, which regards prolonging life. The statement of the church on the efforts to prolong life is in accordance with the traditional teachings of the church.
The past, present and futuristic prospects which science and technology aim at achieving are truly fascinating. Currently, physicians can prescribe drugs or supplements that can play a role of extending human life. Some of these are hormones which have so specific physiological or genetic effects that directly or indirectly reverse ageing or senescence. Drugs can prolong life for weeks, months, and even years. Gene technology assists human to alter the life health situation by applying techniques like stem cells and cells rejuvenation techniques. Scientific research and transhumanism are attempts of humans to prolong life. Religion may not directly influence policy formulation, but it has a great role of directing people towards the ethical and moral implications of the life extension techniques. It is a fact that the medical technology has raised a lot of religious controversies.