Recently, scientists at the University of Southern California manipulated two genes on some yeast and ended up with yeast which lived ten times longer than it normally would. This achievement immediately led to speculation about whether or not this same technique could be applied to higher organisms such as human beings. It seems to be at least theoretically possible to create a situation in which humans could live to be 800 or more years old.
Of course that would be cool. Most religions after all promise long life as the carrot to be striven toward against the stick of daily life in subjugation to human frailty, cruelty and general misery. What if we can soon bypass the whole piety thing and get to the reward of virtually eternal life on our own? Would we be accused of "playing god" as many beneficial scientific advances have been in the past? Well, what is wrong with playing god if you win?
The downside would be that having everyone living forever would soon lead to overpopulation and so it just wouldn't be feasible. So then who would get the gift of eternal life? Would we select specific people who are more "worthy" than others based on their performance in the few short years of a normal human lifespan? But perhaps more people could achieve things of worth if they only had more time. I know I always think that I might… Then again, perhaps an extended lifespan would lead to exporting our race to other planets. That would be pretty cool. Is this starting to sound like religion? Interesting.
As I thought about this whole scenario it occurred to me that, if scientists could cause a deliberate genetic mutation, why couldn't the same mutation happen by chance? After all there are both beneficial and harmful genetic mutations that take place in nature, even among humans. History is full of various legends of people or races who have either by accident or intention lived for a very long time if not forever. Vampires are just one example. I wonder if any of those legends were based on one or more persons who had this mutation…