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heaven4 This essay was one of Transhumanity’s biggest hits last month, getting about 1200 hits in its first week, as well as 87 up-votes and 93 comments on Reddit within 2 days. A shortened version is currently the 3rd most-viewed article on ImmortalLife

“Our hope of immortality does not come from any religions, but nearly all religions come from that hope.” — Robert Green Ingersoll

Recent polls indicate that 80% of Americans and over 50% of global citizens believe in an afterlife. I argue that conceptions of death which include or allow for the possibility of an afterlife are not only sufficiently different from conceptions of death devoid of an afterlife as to necessitate that they be given their own term and separate designation, but that such afterlife-inclusive notions of death constitute the very antithesis of afterlife-devoid conceptions of death! Not only are they sufficiently different as to warrant their own separate designations, but afterlife-inclusive conceptions of death miss the very point of death – its sole defining attribute or categorical-qualifier as such. The defining characteristic is not its specific details (e.g. whether physical death counts as death if the mind isn’t physical, as in substance dualism); its defining characteristic is the absence of life and subjectivity. Belief in an afterlife is not only categorically dissimilar but actually antithetical to conceptions of death precluding an afterlife. Thus to believe in heaven is to deny the existence of death!

The fact that their belief involves metaphysical, rather than physical, continuation isn’t a valid counter-argument. To argue via mind-body dualism that the mind is metaphysical, and thus will continue on in a metaphysical realm (i.e. heaven), in this specific case makes no difference. Despite not being physical in such an argument, its relation to the metaphysical realm is the same as the relation of physical objects to the physical realm. It operates according to the “rules” and “causal laws” of the metaphysical realm, and so for all effective purposes can be considered physical in relation thereto, in the same sense that physical objects can be considered physical in relation to physical reality.

heaven5The impact of this categorical confusion extends beyond desire for semantic precision. If we hope to convince the larger public of radical-life-extension’s desirability, we need to first convince them that death exists. If one believes that their mind will continue on after physical death, then the potential attraction of physical immortality becomes negligible if not null. Why bother expending effort to attain immortality if it is inherent in the laws of the universe? It becomes a matter of not life or death but of convenience. This is a major problem: if the statistics mentioned can be trusted, then over half of the world population, and over 4/5ths of the U.S.A, lack even the potential to see the attraction and advantage of life-extension!

Widespread public awareness of and desire for radical longevity is important because it is our best tool for achieving it. One promoter is more effective — that is, has more of an impact on how soon indefinite longevity is realized- than one researcher working on life-extension. One promoter can get their message to scores of people per day. Conversely many researchers have little say on what they want to work on, or the scope and uses for what they work on. One must be conservative to get research grants, and the research directions taken in any science discipline is more influenced by public opinion than the opinion of individual researchers. We can get more traction by influencing public opinion, per unit of time or effort (damn these unquantifiable metrics!) than with pragmatic research. If we get widespread support then funding for research will come.

heaven7The preponderance of atheists in the Transhumanist community is not a coincidence. Only through godlessness can each become their own god – in which case god-as-superior-being becomes meaningless, and god-as-control-of-self-fate, god-as-self-empowerment and god –as-self-legitimation, self-signification-and-self-dignification are the only valid definitions for such that remains. Autotheism encompasses atheism because it requires it (with the possible exception of co-creator theologies). Atheism is still to be valorized and commended in my opinion, for it exemplifies the resolute acceptance of freedom and ultimate responsibility for what we are and are to become. To be an atheist un-paralyzed by fear is to take for granted the desirability of one’s own freedom and lawless godfullness. On the other hand, successful intersections of religious thinking and Transhumanism do exist, as exemplified by the Mormon Transhumanist Association — whose success lies I think in its emphasis on co-creator theology (Mormons believe that it is Man’s responsibility to “grow up” into God – and if man and god are on equal footing, then where lie the dog, titan and grandFather?). Thus while belief in heaven and by consequence all religions that include or allow for conceptions of an afterlife constitute a massive deterrent to the widespread popularity if immortalism, it also constitutes, in utmost irony, one of its greatest potential legitimators due to its potential to evidence immortality as a deep-rooted human desire that transcends cultural distance and historical time.

2 this heavenThus we should neither be precisely denouncing nor promoting religion, yet neither should we ignore it and simply let it be. Rather we should be a.) heralding them for their keen insight into the true values and desires of humanity, while b.) taking care to show them that life-extension is nothing less than the modern embodiment of the very immortalist gestalt that they exemplified via conceptualizing an afterlife in the first place, and that belief in heaven held or maintained today goes against the very motivation and underlying utility that such a belief was trying to maintain and instill all along! By believing in heaven they are going against all it was ever meant achieve (the temporary satisfaction of our insatiable urge for life and escape from petty death) and all it was ever meant to constitute. This is not only the truest state of affairs, but the most advantageous as well. It allows us to at once ameliorate the problems caused by widespread belief in heaven, utilize the widespread and long-running belief in afterlife for the purpose of legitimizing immortalism to the wider and more conservative public, and showing the long historical tradition of a belief in or longing for immortality to constitute perhaps the most deep-rooted human value, desire and ideal (in both terms of historical time and in terms of importance, or a measure of how much it shapes our values, desires and ideals) while at the same time avoid irremediably insulting people who believe in an afterlife – which is detrimental only insofar as it risks having them ignore our cause not from reasoned conclusion but rather from seasoned spite.

heaven6We should consider two options. The first is to convince them that contemporary belief in heaven must be lain down, because it’s contemporary utility actually works against the original utility of a belief in heaven, as described above. A second option, which I think is less favorable but may be met with less ideological opposition, is that physical immortality constitutes the new embodiment of heaven on earth. Religious institutions like the like the Roman Catholic Church have ‚through the Vatican in this case, reformed their doctrine on evolution. Might the eschatological occurrences in the Book of Relevation be interpreted as the culminating intersection of the realm of Heaven with the realm of Earth? Might we try and incite them to change their doctrine on the afterlife, removing all metaphysical connotations due to society’s increasing secularization and the growing popularity of scientific materialism (also called metaphysical or methodological naturalism)? The change-in-doctrine over evolution, which they did presumably due to the large popularity of belief in evolution and their desire not to alienate so large a demographic,may be a precedent. Thus we should consider suggesting that they reinterpret their vision of heaven as a continuing physical realization of the perfect society on earth.

heaven2We should be portraying every religious crusade and mission to spread the word of god as a pilgrimage to bring immortality to the world! If one thinks that a specific moral, metaphysical or cosmological (i.e. religious) system is required to attain life after death, what else is their pilgrimage to spread god’s word but a quest to bring methodological means of immortality to humanity? Let us at once show believers in an afterlife why they are wrong, commend them for their insight into deep rooted and historically-extensive human values, beliefs and eternal longings, and win them over to our side!

We have been hurling our rank rage at death and staunch demand for life at the unyielding heavens since before the recognized inception of culture! From the first dawn in Sumer and on, extending across the Abrahamic tradition, to touch upon Hinduism and the Chinese Faith, from Egyptian religion (with its particularly strong emphasis on the afterlife) to Norse mythology and beyond. Even Buddhism, which is often considered more philosophy than religion for its lack of a dogmatic stance on cosmology and an afterlife, has its versions of eternal life. Reincarnation is just as much a validating force for our desire for immortality as belief in an afterlife is. Reincarnation holds that non-metaphysical, physically-embodied immortality, through cyclic rebirth, is possible (and while metaphysics is involved, the belief nonetheless reifies the concept or corporeal rebirth). And indeed, even though they precede Nirvana and are still located within the “illusory” realm of Samsara, this only goes to further emphasize the predominance of physical forms of radical longevity, the desire for and belief in which both reincarnation and the Buddhist versions of “heaven” exemplify. According to the Anguttara Nikaya (a Buddhist text), there are several types of heaven in existence, all part of the physical realm, the inhabitants or “denizens” of which have varying degrees of longevity. The denizens of Cātummaharajan live 9,216,000,000 years; denizens of Nimmānarati live 2,284,000,000 years; denizens of Tāvatimsa live 36,000,000 years; denizens of Tusita live 576,000,000 years; and the denizens of Yāma live 1,444,000,000 years.

heaven1Our history overflows with humanity’s upheaved herald of heaven, our exaltation of the existential extra, our fiery strife towards continued life. The mythic and religious historical traditions constitute at once indefinite longevity’s greatest contemporary obstacle and its greatest historical legitimator.

“There can be but little liberty on earth while men worship a tyrant in heaven.” Robert Green Ingersoll


Belief of Americans in God, heaven and hell, 2011 (2011). Retrieved March 22, 2013 from
Poll; nearly 8 in 10 Americans believe in angels (2011). CBS News. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from
Conan, N. (2010). Do You Believe In Miracles? Most Americans Do. In NPR News. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from
Americans Describe Their Views About Life After Death (2003). The Barna Group. Retrieved March 22, 2013 from
43,941 adherent statistic citations: membership and geography data for 4,300+ religions, churches, tribes, etc. (2007). Retrieved March 22, 2013 from


lifebFreedom fironically found in flesh, not knowing whe’er I’m foul or fowl… tickly bound neath trickly form twisting and more unfresh as dawn upon dawn dies in menstrual skyfire like blood made light — a mocking microcosm of my own transubstantiation from rotting viscera to lightstorm infinity?

Just what sick joke is this? To wake and ache and dream and be and become! – and then to die..? To culminate the very universe itself!.. and then to simply die?! For what I ask you! What! Death… what audacious greed! What reckless squander and heedless extravagance!

Guttural red fringed black a bulbous muck death bastphelgmy! We cannot comprehend the sheer stature of death and so hurriedly cover the unknown with a word to hold it in hand and at a distance, to doubt no doubt.

O pallid heavens! O incessant sun undaunted by my barrenaked finitude! O fetid sanctity wet and redragged as the sickly bloom of jagged flesh! O putrid night sky serene despite my spat fury; as I ebb and ember a’roil withinside my sadness unbelieving and hysteric animal heat that vile sun and auster night jaunt their jeer and mock the rude squall of my panicstrewn death nonetheless.

We must not believe them when they tell us with sad care that we will one day die.

We must not believe them when they tell us that we will escape death by any means but our own daring.

We must bleed our eschaton passion upforth and afroth upon that void hated with awefull grandeur for its monster honesty. We must take self in hand and be/hold the possible futures still fetal inside. We must rage our righteous revolt with pride bright as that unsickened sun, not afraid to boast that we fear death but instead eager to thrust our fervent urgency upon the others still bound to opiate incredulity.

We are Man, and we shall NOT go quietly into that dog night!

This soliloquy was originally published on

The objective for the body and more specifically cells is to monitor its energy potential and well being just like we’d monitor anything else with a modern information system/information technology (IS/IT).

Apoptosis is an intentional death of a cell that triggers a “natural” death, Necrosis is an unintentional death of a cell due to damage. While there are some inherent dangers with existing and making it as difficult today to avoid necrosis as it was yesterday, we can aim to scientifically identify apoptosis and manage it. Most of us are familiar with apoptosis, we call it cancer…a phenomenon where cells don’t know when to call it quits and we suffer as a result of the growth.

The specific technology doesn’t exist yet, but we require a mechanism to measure and regulate mitochondrion decisions on-demand. Let’s get to work people! Is there a way that we could constantly monitor mitochondrial regulation without losing blood regularly like a the annoying finger prick monitoring that diabetics have to currently endure.

Lance Becker does a good job of further elaborating on this topic and charging us with a new objective of creating the technologies that will assist in life management and extension.

As leaders of calorie restriction research and practice, Meredith Averill and I often participate in media events. A recent news conference covered rapidly evolving aspects of calorie restriction research that anyone could benefit from, whether they choose to follow a low-calorie lifestyle or not. Therefore, we thought it appropriate to share the details of the event with the Lifeboat Foundation audience.

The conference was hosted by the American Federation of Aging Research (AFAR). AFAR is a forward-looking organization that provides financial support for early- and mid-career scientists who are developing careers in the study of aging.

This conference, entitled “You are What you Don’t Eat!” presented two world-famous CR scientists, Drs. Luigi Fontana and Donald Ingram. After an introduction from AFAR’s board member, Dr. Jack Watters, both scientists shared many profound insights that could extend healthy lifespan for millions of people.

Dr. Fontana first reminded us how important calorie restriction research is for the health and financial viability of the health care system: “Cardiovascular disease (CVD), cancer, stroke and diabetes account for nearly 70% of the deaths in the United States and Europe. About 80% of adults over 65 years of age have at least one chronic disease, and 50% have two or more of these chronic diseases that accelerate the aging process1 .” The point he makes is that health care systems, especially with our rapidly aging population cannot sustain this large number of people with disease.

Meanwhile, his CR studies – many done in conjunction with the CR Society Intl. – show that those following a serious CR diet exhibit less risk of cardiovascular disease, cancer, stroke, and diabetes – all chronic diseases that people in Western societies are so prone to. Drawing parallels with animal studies, Fontana points out that CR mice are found to live much longer and in better health. When they die, autopsies show no sign of a chronic condition. Dr. Fontana says the same is possible for people. He hailed the healthiest old people as “escapers:” people who live to 100 and contract no chronic disease.

Against that backdrop, Dr. Fontana explained that his human CR studies have looked carefully at various markers in human calorie restrictors – T3, IGF-I, insulin, glucose, correlating them to successful CR, established in animal studies. This has given him a battery of indicators that can used by anyone to judge the effectiveness of a CR regimen. These are the core of the CR Way biomarkers that we recommend for testing and tracking by anyone following a CR diet. Fontana’s presentation underlines the reality that living free of chronic disease is attainable for humans.

Dr. Ingram presented valuable research results. He discussed many aspects of his productive CR research career, including his search for a CR mimetic. He has looked at some well known candidates such at Metformin (producing no difference in life span extension in his studies), 2 d-oxyglucose, (proving to be unusable because of dangerous side effects in the heart). And a promising possibility: avocado-derived mannoheptulose. Highly recommended by The CR Way, avocados have a profound glucose/insulin-lowering effect, according to Dr. Ingram. He attributes this to mannoheptulose, a sugar that’s rare in the human diet and that reduces glycolysis via hexokinase inhibition.

Bioavailability of avocado-derived mannoheptulose in dogs

Gary Davenport1, Stefan Massimino1, Michael Hayek1, Michael Ceddia1, John Burr1, Chyon-Hwa Yeh1, Lijuan Li1, George Roth2 and Donald Ingram3

1 Procter & Gamble, Lewisburg, OH
2 Geroscience, Pylesville, MD
3 Pennington Biomedical Research Center, Baton Rouge, LA

The FASEB Journal: The Journal of the Federation of the Societies for Experimental Biology, now on their Web site:, accessed April 1, 2011

Mannoheptulose (MH) is a 7-carbon sugar found in avocados and other natural sources that acts to reduce glycolysis via hexokinase inhibition. It has been proposed as a calorie restriction (CR) mimetic that delivers anti-aging and health-promoting benefits of CR without reducing food intake. Three studies were conducted to evaluate MH bioavailability when fed to dogs as an avocado extract (AvX) based on MH levels in urine (Study 1) and plasma (Study 2 & 3). In Study 1, Labrador Retrievers (LR; n=15) and Fox Terriers (n=15) were fed AvX-containing diets formulated to deliver 0, 2 or 5 mg MH/kg BW. All dogs were subjected to 24-hour quantitative urine collections. A dose-dependent increase (p<0.05) in urinary MH occurred with increasing dietary MH. In Study 2, LR (n=6) were fed AvX-containing diets once daily to deliver 0, 1 or 2 mg MH/kg BW. Sequential blood samples were collected before and after feeding through 12 hr and at 24-hr post-feeding. Plasma MH increased (P<0.05) with both MH diets compared to control. Peak MH occurred 6–8 hr post-feeding and returned to non-detectable levels by 24 hr. In Study 3, similar MH results were observed for LR (n=10) fed AvX-containing diets twice daily to provide 0 or 2 mg MH/kg BW. Peak MH occurred within 2–4 hr of MH consumption and returned to non-detectable levels by 24 hr.

Mannoheptulose, fed as an avocado extract, is biologically available in dogs based on its appearance in plasma and urine.

Dr. Ingram shared some additional successful research2 on the neuroprotective effects of blueberries. He and his colleagues found that mice that were injected with a blueberry extract were protected against neurodegeneration induced by a toxic substance.

The growing interest in phytonutrients for health and longevity was reinforced by Dr. Fontana, who reported a current experiment gauging the effects of a cocktail of polyphenol extracts.


On behalf of everyone interested in longevity, we asked the scientists to tell us where they think the next important areas of their research should be. Dr. Fontana wants to turn his attention to CR and cancer, noting that many unknowns continue to make preventing cancer’s occurrence – even predicting its likelihood – difficult. He reminded us that “cancer is the second leading cause of death in many developed countries,” accounting for approximately one-fourth of all deaths. Among women, aged 40 to 79, and among men aged, 60 to 79, cancer is the leading cause of death in the U.S. The lifetime probability of developing cancer is 46% for men and 38% for women2 . Furthermore, many of the processes of cancer mirror processes of aging, so this research will do double duty.

Dr. Fontana believes that by looking at CR, which has been shown to reduce cancer incidence and rate of metastasis in animal and human studies3, better ways will be found to predict the likelihood of cancer as well as to prevent it.

This line of study will also help determine potential aging markers, a recurring theme for both presenters. Dr. Ingram declared in his answer to our question: Rate-of- aging markers need to be established and validated. Future projects need to focus on this work. Further, he called on the gerontological community to work hard on building consensus on these biomarkers, so that they can be used by researchers, healthcare professionals, and longevists.

We are heartened to know that forward-thinking organizations like AFAR are facilitating the work of talented scientists who will likely make it possible ultimately for all to live in good health longer.

The hope of the CR Society Intl. and The CR Way is that the work of these scientists will be fully appreciated and that government and other funders will respond with the support that is needed to pursue research that helps us all live longer, disease-free lives and ultimately makes a big difference in the financial viability of health care.

Thanks to the Lifeboat Foundation for inviting me to share this information.

Paul McGlothin,

Vice President Research, The CR Society International

Co-author, The CR Way

Executive Director, The CR Way Longevity Center

[email protected]


1 Modulating Human Aging and Age-Associated Diseases

Luigi Fontana, M.D., Ph.D.

Biochimica Biophysica Acta. 2009 Oct;1790(10):1133–8. Epub 2009 Feb 10.

Population aging is progressing rapidly in many industrialized countries. The United States population aged 65 and over is expected to double in size within the next 25 years. In sedentary people eating Western diets aging is associated with the development of serious chronic diseases, including type 2 diabetes mellitus, cancer and cardiovascular diseases. About 80 percent of adults over 65 years of age have at least one chronic disease, and 50 percent have at least two chronic diseases. These chronic diseases are the most important cause of illness and mortality burden, and they have become the leading driver of health care costs, constituting an important burden for our society.

Data from epidemiological studies and clinical trials indicate that many age-associated chronic diseases can be prevented, and even reversed, with the implementation of healthy lifestyle interventions. Several recent studies suggest that more drastic interventions (i.e. calorie restriction without malnutrition and moderate protein restriction with adequate nutrition) may have additional beneficial effects on several metabolic and hormonal factors that are implicated in the biology of aging itself. Additional studies are needed to understand the complex interactions of factors that regulate aging and age-associated chronic disease.

PMID: 19364477

2A blueberry-enriched diet provides cellular protection against oxidative stress and reduces a kainate-induced learning impairment in rats.

Duffy KB, Spangler EL, Devan BD, Guo Z, Bowker JL, Janas AM, Hagepanos A, Minor RK, DeCabo R, Mouton PR, Shukitt-Hale B, Joseph JA, Ingram DK.

Laboratory of Experimental Gerontology, Intramural Research Program, National Institute on Aging, National Institutes of Health, 5600 Nathan Shock Drive, Baltimore, MD 21224, USA.

Neurobiology of Aging. 2008 Nov;29(11):1680–9. Epub 2007 May 23.

Young male Fischer-344 rats were fed a diet containing 2% blueberry (BB) extract or control diet for at least 8 weeks and then received bilateral hippocampal injections of kainic acid (KA 200 ng/0.5 microl) or phosphate buffered saline (PBS). One week later rats were trained in one-way active footshock avoidance in a straight runway followed the next day by training in a footshock motivated 14-unit T-maze with documented sensitivity to hippocampal glutamatergic manipulations. Based on analyses of several performance variables, KA-treated rats exhibited clearly impaired learning performance; however, the BB diet significantly reduced this impairment. Supporting the behavioral findings, stereological assessment of CA1 pyramidal neurons documented greater neuronal loss in KA-treated controls compared to KA-treated rats on the BB diet.

In an in vitro experiment, FaO cells grown in medium supplemented with serum from BB-fed rats had enhanced viability after exposure to hydrogen peroxide. These findings suggest that BB supplementation may protect against neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment mediated by excitotoxicity and oxidative stress.

3 Calories and carcinogenesis: lessons learned from 30 years of calorie restriction research.
Hursting SD, Smith SM, Lashinger LM, Harvey AE, Perkins SN.
Carcinogenesis. 2010 Jan;31(1):83–9. Epub 2009 Dec 7.

Calorie restriction (CR) is arguably the most potent, broadly acting dietary regimen for suppressing the carcinogenesis process, and many of the key studies in this field have been published in Carcinogenesis. Translation of the knowledge gained from CR research in animal models to cancer prevention strategies in humans is urgently needed given the worldwide obesity epidemic and the established link between obesity and increased risk of many cancers.

PMID: 19969554

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