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(Natural) Death is Evolutionarily Absurd

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posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:40 AM
Most people think of natural death (death by old age) as being fundamentally caused by the wearing out of the organism. After all, we all get some form of damage as we grow older, may it be at the molecular level with free radicals or on a more general scale as our body grows weaker. Disorder steps in with time, and things stop working as they should.

But this idea was discredited in the 19th century when the second law of thermodynamics was formalized. Entropy (disorder) must increase inevitably within a closed system, but living beings are not closed systems. It is a defining feature of life that it takes in free energy from the environment and unloads its entropy as waste. Living systems can even build themselves up from seed, and routinely repair themselves. There is no thermodynamic necessity for senescence.

Evolution of ageing

This is a very good point. The article goes on:

In addition, generic damage or "wear and tear" theories could not explain why biologically similar organisms (e.g. mammals) exhibited such dramatically different lifespans. Furthermore, this initial theory failed to explain why most organisms maintain themselves so efficiently until adulthood and then, after reproductive maturity, begin to succumb to age-related damage.

A possible answer is that living beings in nature are often killed (either by accident or by another living being) before they do get the chance to grow old. Since old age isn't an issue, nature neglects to develop strategies against old age, since most living beings don't get there in the first place. This is called the "Selection Shadow" argument.

But I have a problem with such an argument: many animals do reach old age. Predators on top of their food chain have but slim chances of being killed by small preys, and resistance to senescence would in their case actually assure that they stay fit and keep being on the top of their food chain.

So perhaps gene mutations accumulation is to blame? As pointed out by Medawar's Theory, surely mutations accumulate with time, and ultimately causes general breakdown of the organism?

Modern genetics science has disclosed a possible problem with the mutation accumulation concept in that it is now known that genes are typically expressed in specific tissues at specific times (see regulation of gene expression). Expression is controlled by some genetic "program" that activates different genes at different times in the normal growth, development, and day-to-day life of the organism. Defects in genes cause problems (genetic diseases) when they are not properly expressed when required. A problem late in life suggests that the genetic program called for expression of a gene only in late life and the mutational defect prevented proper expression. This implies existence of a program that called for different gene expression at that point in life.

So the mystery still stands.

George C. Williams proposed that Death is in itself the price to pay for beneficial genes.

In antagonistic pleiotropy, one of these effects is beneficial and another is detrimental. In essence, this refers to genes that offer benefits early in life, but exact a cost later on. If evolution is a race to have the most offspring the fastest, then enhanced early fertility could be selected even if it came with a price tag that included decline and death later on.

However this theory has been discredited by experiments. Fruit flies that lived twice as long were twice as fertile, directly falsifying Williams' assumption that fertility and age were mutually exclusive. Also, many ageing genes have no associated benefits, once again proving that there isn't really a link between the two.

The Disposable Soma Theory proposed that Death was caused by a shortage of Time; since living beings have but limited energy (food) access, then their organism spends this energy for reproduction instead of long age. But this theory was disproven when it was discovered that many living beings actually lived longer when they had access to LESS energy (food) than control.

Some theories say that Death is actually programmed as a defence against critical damage, such as cancer. I think this is actually a good point, however programmed death doesn't solve the crux of the issue: if programmed death is to avoid dying of cancer, then nature still isn't seeking to prolong life, it's only choosing between death methods. The reason why organisms cannot just live forever is still left unsolved.

But this last theory got me thinking. We already know that cancer is a cell which has been mutated to live and reproduce forever using available energy all around.
What if Nature IS actually attempting to defeat Death? What if cancer is nature's clumsy, blind shotgun way to try and create organisms that can live forever - at first succeeding with cells, but then having a bit of some troubles implementing it on a pluricellular level? In which case the answer to the question, "why doesn't nature work on eliminating natural death" would be, "she's actually working on it. "

Yet another simpler answer is that we simply don't die.

A bit like the Timelords in BBC's Doctor Who show, it could be that we living beings actually never die, we only change faces. This idea has roots in the oldest cultures, may it be the reincarnation concept of Hinduism, or the Soul concept of Biblical legends - even animist cultures have some sort of soul concept. It could be that we have a part of us which lives through the ages, a side of us which dwells in another realm and whose lifespan only ends once its Universe (the ultimate thermodynamic closed system) reaches total death; and that the only way for this "soul" to interact with the physical realm is by taking a physical form - living beings. An analogy would be that for you to read this post I have to use a computer and interact with you via the "realm" we call "Internet". Physical living beings would be only half the equation; they would simply serve as vehicles for the actual Life - the soul.

In which case the answer to "why do we die? " would simply be, "we don't".

Food for thoughts.

edit on 16-6-2016 by swanne because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:49 AM
One need not have a scientific explanation for this.

We live, we wear out, then we die. It's the circle of life.

edit on 16-6-2016 by ReprobateRaccoon because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:51 AM
a reply to: ReprobateRaccoon

Dear Raccoon, please read the OP! I have just spent two hours writing about why the "wear and tear" viewpoint is actually obsolete. It applies to closed systems, but living beings are not closed systems!

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:54 AM
a reply to: swanne

Surely the "wear and tear" viewpoint is MORE valid BECAUSE we aren't in a closed system?So there is more to "wear and tear" on us? It wouldn't be limited to simply our own bodies causing wear and tear, but the environment around us aswell.
edit on 1662016 by TerryDon79 because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 06:59 AM
a reply to: ReprobateRaccoon

Although I prefer

"The body lives, the body wears out and the body dies."

The body is a train made of flesh, and you and I are the drivers of it. Without eachother (the body and "you"), non of you would exist. It's a partnership with a terminal date... for the sake of what?


I destinctly try to treat my body as seperate from "me". It's pretty hard, since we grow up being taught the whole idea of it being a whole package.
Spirituality in terms of reincarnation and such try to explain it without giving away the show, because part of the show is exactly that most people spend their lives trying to uncover it without realising that THAT is the entire plot of the show.
That you will never know if you try to find out.

But from a pseudo scientific stand point, I expect the seperation of body and "me" to be quite provable, we just either don't know how or don't want to know how. Imagine the problems that would arise.

In the end if you go from entire being, to cells, to molecules, to atoms, to..... eventually we are all just vibrations occuring in predetermined patterns, and the brain of the human body is an interpreting device that takes all that miniscule data, cooks it dry and serves a representation of it all in a form that is easy for the "me" to handle and relate to.

When the human body dies, the energy vibrations that make up the human body will melt together with other vibrations and the vibrations that represent "me" will continue in the same shape, although move to some other form of exisistance.
Hopefully not on Earth again

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:07 AM
a reply to: swanne

I thought you were doing well until you started in on the hocus pocus nonsense at the end.

I remember seeing a study, I think it was last year, that said something along the lines of
On average humans after 2000 or so (no idea if that's the right number, but it's what popped in my head) cell generations the base pairs of our DNA started to fray for lack of a better word. Which led to cellular degeneration and mutations and eventually death.

But if us or nature could solve that issue of deteriorating DNA then we will essentially achieve immortality.

I'm at work on my phone now, but will try to find the thread.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:18 AM
a reply to: watchitburn

I understand your feelings about the end of my OP, but I nevertheless do think there is some merit to the "soul" idea. It's the simplest logical way to solve the problem.

Science has a few blind spots, and in my opinion the existence of an information surviving death should be explored, regardless of you and me's feelings about it (I too am much uncomfortable with such an idea, for I am not religious). But as Tesla said,

“The day science begins to study non-physical phenomena, it will make more progress in one decade than in all the previous centuries of its existence.”

Your argument in your post is akin to the Mutation Accumulation argument, which is already covered in the OP. It's a good argument, but it has its flaw, as can be read from the OP.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:20 AM
a reply to: swanne

Very interesting read.
I believe Mother Nature has already beaten death in living organisms via reproduction. Each species must have a collective "essence" which explains away evolution, learning processes and instinct and i think the answer is DNA. What alot of people think may be their spirit is actually this essence of the species. We all feel it but we interpret in different ways.
But DNA is the key here.
The design of life is so beautifully complex but perfect. If we had no reproduction system there would be no need for entropy or death. But if that were the design, accidental death would see life dwindle away over many years.
The system nature chose was to let us reproduce, teach and die, therefore leaving a constant stream of life.

Just my opinion.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:23 AM
a reply to: swanne

I like your idea of trying to explore the existence of information after death, BUT we would first need to know "IS THERE information after death?"

Then where to look, what to look for, when it becomes information after death (is it right away, just before, just after, during, etc.), how it becomes information and so on and so on.

Without being able to answer the "is there...", we can't possibly begin to start to do any of the follow ups.

Still, nice idea though.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:25 AM
a reply to: Lumpy79

I believe Mother Nature has already beaten death in living organisms via reproduction. Each species must have a collective "essence" which explains away evolution, learning processes and instinct and i think the answer is DNA. What alot of people think may be their spirit is actually this essence of the species. We all feel it but we interpret in different ways.

Yes, this is a very good argument.

If you redifine "living beings" not as the individuals which are physically separate, but actually as the whole of the species or even the whole of the biosphere, then yeah, it can be argued that the biosphere has already defeated Death.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:37 AM
I believe that it's actually a self protective tactic for species as a whole. Its an obvious necessity to life and evolution. Individuals within a species need to die off in order for mutations to develop at a fast enough pace to keep up with the changes in environment.

The fact that we are not a closed system is what makes death a nessesity in order for the growth and evolution of a species. Otherwise we would never evolve. We would quickly overcome the environments capacity to maintain itself, effectively making it uninhabitable.

Life cannot exist without preprogrammed death. It has to feed on itself in a circular nature. I would assume that death is just as much a factor in any other living system across the universe as it is here on earth.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:39 AM
a reply to: swanne

generic damage or "wear and tear" theories could not explain why biologically similar organisms

A moubntain lion and a large house cat are similiar, but don't run out to get kitty litter and catnip for the lion, yanno?

I fully believe that the essence of who you are never dies; in fact, I further believe that our bodies are containers for that essence which continues on at our controlled request.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:41 AM
It's my opinion the Systems of Nature tells us a lot in the most subtle ways yet ways in which are so evident, one just needs to look around and observe.

Systems Evolve.

Look at a Pyramid....

First step leads to the top and each step gets harder and harder but once you reach the top, what a grand feeling! On your way to the top you may fall, you may stop for a few breaks, you may even have to get some water before you reach the top but when you get to the top you are bound to feel good about yourself.

We come, we learn, we evolve.

We go to school, we learn, we graduate.

We go to work, we learn, we get promoted.

Systems on the molecular level also evolve.

Cancer cells evolve.

Below is one of the greatest thinkers of all time. If you have never listened to one of his lectures and have the time... use it to listen to him. It will be worth it.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:44 AM
My belief is that most advanced races would eventually seek immortality. Also faster than light travel, manipulation of space-time, and matter.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:45 AM
a reply to: swanne

It is exactly what i believe is the case and explains alot of the basics of life and death.
If you zoom out and look at Humanity as one entity and we are living cells that allow it to live then you can explain the need for violence, war, love and so on. War and disease could be thought of as a defensive mechanism to control the population of "cells".

Maybe i'm thinking too far out the box but it makes a lot of sense to me. I still do not want to die but i know it is probably a DNA sequence programmed to make us want to survive

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:46 AM
"I've seen dead people."

So yah, life goes on.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 07:46 AM
The film Lucy covered the need for organisms to transfer information, either through immortality or reproduction. As mammals we have evolved to use reproduction do to our large complex size when compared to single cell life forms. It's stated it's our sole purpose which is believable as it is a driving force in nearly all species ( dam the pandas).

For me the whole closed system is pointless. Nice OP though.

I also thought that it is a result of diminishing returns, cells being clones of clones that will eventually have irreversible consequences (mutations, less effective cells structures). May ask why does this happen to cells but that is a different question, more a genetic defect. No need for "closed systems" or "souls" to explain why we "die".
edit on 16-6-2016 by GemmyMcGemJew because: (no reason given)

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 08:07 AM
I read somewhere that we must die in order to evolve.
Each generation is one iteration in evolution in which genetics can potentially differ.
If no one died we would hinder the chances of the new iteration, by squandering resources, food etc.
So to make room for a potentially new improved generation the old generation must die.
We know that the body is capable of repair through stem cells, and some anemones are effectively immortal
(until they are eaten). So our death is preprogrammed in order for evolution to operate.
If we lived longer then our rate of adaptation would slow.

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 08:13 AM
So humanity is an aspiring tumor?

posted on Jun, 16 2016 @ 08:21 AM

originally posted by: swanne
a reply to: ReprobateRaccoon

Dear Raccoon, please read the OP! I have just spent two hours writing about why the "wear and tear" viewpoint is actually obsolete. It applies to closed systems, but living beings are not closed systems!

Excuse me for not following your cryptic theories about the unknown. For daring to imply that the overly simplistic "circle of life" seems more sensible to me.

We're not closed systems. We don't live in bubbles. We're not test subjects, we're free human beings living in a stressful, polluted, and largely unexplained world. Until we conquer illness, develop perfect diets and live stress free lives, we'll never truly know.

That's my theory, but it's obviously nowhere near as "valid" as the sources you quoted.

Death happens. It always has, and always will. Rather than spend my time searching for why it happens, I simply prefer to enjoy my life before death happens.

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