This house believes we should strive for immortality

Immortality, living forever, has always been an ambition and goal for human beings throughout history. The concept is an inescapable part of the human condition – we are intelligent, mortal beings, for the present, and this fact of life has shaped everything we have created. Everything in human thought is shaped by the knowledge that we will die: our political systems, both at home and in government; our religious teachings; our moral codes, and our punishments for breaking them; our familial practices; our stories, our memories; the way we love and the things we love; the way we view our place in the universe and the way we relate to an infinite cosmos. The human perspective is a mortal perspective, but what if that changed?

At least in so far as beating ageing is concerned, modern science seems to be bringing us closer and closer to the situation where immortality is a possibility. If we reach this stage, if mankind reaches the position where immortality is within her grasp, should we reach out and take it? Would it be right to do this, morally? Of course there would be immense consequences if a stage of implementation were reached where some human beings simply didn't die: the problems, politically and economically such a large population would bring; perhaps great expense for some and inequality for all, as only some would be able to take advantage of the new technology. Of course, at the moment, the ethics of immortality are fairly fantastical and full of assumptions but this is only due to it being unlikely that anyone who is presently alive would be affected by the debate and the debated issue. But perhaps we should get the debate rolling to help our children’s children decide, or even in the unlikely event that modern science makes a sudden great leap forward and propels us all towards immortality.

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