Monday, December 28, 2015

DNA, Death and the Problem with Pain

"Human life has always been lived on the edge of a precipice. Human culture has always had to exist under the shadow of something infinitely more important than itself" -C.S. Lewis

   I think it is important to see the present calamity in a true perspective. War and chaos create no new phenomenon. We are mistaken when we compare war with normal life. Life has never been normal as long as we are on this presence earth. Even those periods which we think most tranquil, like the 1960's and 70's upon closer examination turn out to be full of crises alarms and difficulties. Plausible reasons have never been lacking for these occurrences, how we could be so bigoted and hateful as to judge another on skin color and ethnic background, a "Holier that though" mentality permeates all the religious sentiment when it is based on nothing but stubborn opposition to loving everyone. The solution must be an internal one. As external causes seem to be the visible display of crooked internal realities. 

     Human mortality is something we all have to come to grips with. Eventually our organs fail, even with a healthy lifestyle and the best medicine, death is unavoidable. 100% of us die and that percentage cannot be increased. Our physical apparatus continues to deteriorate, human exertion or will does not add or diminish from this woeful reality. Pain, war and disease does something to us though. It forces us to remember it. According to C.S Lewis: present circumstances strongly dictate our focus on this reality. When death is eminent you are not thinking about things attached to this life as he remarks "Before I became a christian I do not think I fully realized that ones life after conversion, would inevitably consist in doing most of the same things one had been doing before, one hopes in a new spirit but still the same things. Before I went to the last war I certainly expected that my life in the trenches would, in some mysterious sense, be all war. In fact I found the nearer you got to the front line the less everyone thought and spoke of the allied cause and the progress of the campaign; neither conversation or enlistment in the army is really going to obliterate our human life.  The war will fail to absorb our whole attention because it is a finite object and therefore intrinsically unfitted to support the whole attention of a human soul. The infidels Idea of a religious life and the civilians idea of active service are fantastic. If you attempted in either case, to suspend your whole intellectual and aesthetic activity, you would only succeed in substituting a worse cultural choice for a better." 

   The point I am getting across is that we are in warfare right now. The cross and Jesus crucifixion was not a just a documented historical event of a prominent religious and rebellious rebel leader put down by Roman force, it is an ongoing spiritual reality that was made manifest in physical realm. It was a documented historical event that radically changed behavior traits and thought patterns of those most touched by it. A prime example lies in the transformation of a religious zealout, who due to his religious acumen was blinded in his passion for truth,  truth in Saul's mind was rooted only in temporal and physical realities. He failed to grasp the spiritual among the physical. He came to understand the work of the Lord as a living, breathing spiritual aura, guiding and changing hearts, replacing hopelessness with joy and saturating the faithful with peace, an ongoing renewal of endless passion that revitalizes and changes souls.

   Now for a closer examination on human development: the quantum of information in our human DNA strands, inside every single cell is roughly comparable to 12 sets of the encyclopedia Britannica - an astounding 384 volumes worth of detailed data. Yet their size is only 2 millionth of a millimeter thick, "a teaspoon of DNA has all the information to build the proteins for all the species of organisms that has ever lived on the earth". Now why does our physical appearance change so much between the ages of 40 and 70? Every year cells clone themselves into billions of copies to combat microscopic wear and tear from mental experiences of stress, anxiety and physical exertion on our bodies. Bone cells are still hard at work but osteoclasts destroy our bones faster than osteoblasts can rebuild it. This is all due to the cumulative process of defects within regeneration and erosion. So if we are using correct interpretation of science and logic intertwined; we are seeing the effects of a DNA strand which makes the software NASA uses to get a rocket to Mars look like primitive cave scribbles.....deteriorating, even language itself is getting weaker.... just like the very genetics in our bodies are declining..... the genetics which are coordinating every cell, every system, and every organ in your entire body. Why is it then that the very Oxygen you breathe becomes the very agent that accelerates your death? In layman's terms: anytime you have copies, upon copies of something..anything, for that matter the ensuing product is not as perfect as the original prototype. We are taught from childhood to notice that the perfect oak grows from the perfect acorn and to neglect that the acorn itself was dropped by the perfect oak. We love to notice the power of the "rocket" while failing to analyze the rocket itself springs not from some rudimentary engine but by the mastermind and genius of something more perfect and complicated than itself, namely formulaic thought, that lie far beyond the chemical impulses in the brain and reveal themselves rooted in deeper realities than the feeble understanding of human naturalism in depth and scope, thus emergent evolution reveals itself to be utter hallucination. 

     Our DNA makes us what we are and guides our development, but it also determines how long we live. Every time one of our cells copies itself it loses a tiny piece of the DNA. These divisions happen every second of our lives. After billions of cell divisions the end section is gone and our cells cannot divide any more. Over a lifetime our bodies make so many copies of cells that even the tiniest defects accumulate. It's like using a photocopier. Copies made from copies degrade in quality. We have totally re-placed the bone in our face every 10 years since we were born. Our 70 year old face is a seventh generation copy of our baby face. The imperfections are exaggerated with each copy. Another reason for aging is the very air that we breathe. We need oxygen to live but throughout our lives it slowly poisons us. Inside each of our cells our mitochondrea act like tiny power plants combing food with Oxygen to create energy; but  just like a power plant they also generate pollution, in this case the pollutant is oxygen. The mitochondrea change the molecules into unstable forms called free radicals, over a lifetime free radicals slowly suffocate the mitochondria and damage our cells; our cells and DNA become more and more damaged, repair systems fail, imperfections accumulate eventually our organs fail. Death like life, is a biological process. Scientists believe that near the moment of death our blood stream is flooded with endorphin's, the bodies natural pain killers, starved of oxygen, tissues cant function, within 10 seconds the brains electrical activity drops, hearing is the last sense to go, it can take 24 hours for our skin cells to stop dividing its final impulse.

    It seems to be built into our humanity to embrace this hope that after we die there is "something that goes on" Shakespeares "Hamlet" uttered the famous words "to be or not to be" as he's considering the alternatives of life and death and swinging between the two. He experiences conflicting feelings, whither to carry on in this world of pain and suffering or to end it and embrace the reality of "the unknown".  It seems life brings us more loss than success, more pain than gain and yet, in spite of all that: we fight tooth and nail to hang on 'despite the hardships' to life for just another 5 minutes. Whatever the pain that attends life, we desire to keep experiencing it. Because the other side is shrouded in mystique we've never experienced, we would rather bear the ills we have, than embrace the uncertainty of the unknown. He then says "Thus conscience doth make cowards of us all"  The dialogue of Plato includes the death scene of Socrates. The day he is appointed to drink the fatal hemlock. his students and friends are allowed to visit him one last time and they find him at perfect peace and rest, even of 'eager anticipation' being shocked at this they inquired and he says with all his knowledge gleaned from philosophical and scientific speculation it had yielded no other purpose than to further convince him this is indeed not his last day but the beginning of an eternal existence that is far better than what we experience here.

    "As the twisted body of  Christ hung on the cross it seemed to turn into a vast question mark against the sky line, and from his lips comes the cry 'My God, why?' It seems that all the anguish and pain of the ages is gathered up in that bitter cry. There is not a single problem that perplexes and wrings our heart that is not gathered up in that anguished question" E. Stanley Jones

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