… The longest lasting “mystery” religion of the Greco-Roman period spanned nearly 2000 years, extending out of Mycenean traditions (approx. 1500 BC) and the Greek Dark Ages. The Eleusinian Mysteries are named for their origin in the city of Eleusis, but the religion centers on the story of Demeter, the goddess of agriculture, and her daughter Persephone. One day, Persephone is captured by Hades. In order to coerce the other Greek gods to retrieve Persephone from the Underworld, Demeter causes a worldwide drought.
The drought deprives humans of food — but, more importantly, the Greek gods of sacrifices. Zeus orders Hades to return Persephone, but a dirty rule of the Underworld calls for anyone who consumes food within the Underworld to stay within its boundaries forever. Persephone ate several pomegranate seeds during her stay in Underworld, but a deal is struck that calls for her to return to Hades for four to six months out of the year, months when Demeter will be dissatisfied and once again prohibit the growth of plants. This story of Demeter and Persephone sets forth an understanding of the change in seasons against a backdrop of the Greek pantheon. …
Religion is the ancient way we attempted to understand the unknown. Then came religion 2.0, aka Science, but where science does not yet have answers, we still have religion 1.0. The reason I call science a religion is that it requires faith, faith that no one faked the data, faith in the peer review process, faith that industry is not skewing the data for profit, and so on. As a new religion, Science is, IMHO, a significant improvement. As Science has progressed, religion 1.0 has backed off. There aren’t many religions that now believe the planets are gods, or that rocks are alive and have human emotions, for example. But there were, once. The “holy spirit” is another ancient attempt to understand our world. If you do the biblical research, you’ll discover that the holy spirit is the breath, which at one time was quite mysterious. While a person is breathing, they have a life force. When a person dies, they take a last breath and the spirit (breath) leaves them. Therefore, the ancients wrongly concluded that the breath is a mystical force that makes things alive. There was no ancient understanding of respiration, the exchange of O2 and CO2 required for cells to continue to function. The wind, without any understanding of high and low pressures caused by variations in temperature, was equally mysterious, and was explained as the roaming free spirits (breath) of past dead persons, animals, etc
Where the actual boundary of life and death lies is still a tad mysterious. According to Aubrey DeGrey, cells age for seven reasons, and these combined with attacks by microbes, our immune system, chemicals, radiation and so on, are the reasons our individual cells die.
- Cancer-causing nuclear mutations/epimutations:
- These are changes to the nuclear DNA (nDNA), the molecule that contains our genetic information, or to proteins which bind to the nDNA. Certain mutations can lead to cancer, and, according to de Grey, non-cancerous mutations and epimutations do not contribute to aging within a normal lifespan, so cancer is the only endpoint of these types of damage that must be addressed.
- Intracellular aggregates:
- Our cells are constantly breaking down proteins and other molecules that are no longer useful or which can be harmful. Those molecules which can’t be digested simply accumulate as junk inside our cells. Atherosclerosis, macular degeneration and all kinds of neurodegenerative diseases (such as Alzheimer’s disease) are associated with this problem.
- Extracellular aggregates:
- Cell loss:
- Cell senescence:
- Extracellular crosslinks:
Cells are dying and new ones are created constantly in your body. When is a cell dead?
Dying cells are engaged in a process that is reversible until a first irreversible phase or ‘point-of-no-return’ is trespassed (Table 1)
A cell is dead on a molecular or morphological level when one or more of these three things is true:
- [Its] plasma membrane has broken down, resulting in the loss of cell’s identity
- The cell (including its nucleus) has undergone complete fragmentation into discrete bodies (usually referred to as apoptotic bodies),
- The corpse or its fragments have been phagocytosed by neighboring cells
If cells do not die, then you have a cancer where the replicating cells end up damaging/starving other parts of the body and killing the host. Is it too simplistic to say that immortality can be found in between those two points: cancer and aging, cells never dying and cells dying off too quickly? If we evolve morally and keep our population down voluntarily, I’d love to see people living to a healthy 2,000 years, as long as the above article says the “Eleusinian Mysteries” religion endured.