Re: Death before the Fall
Tue, 3 Aug 1999 11:18:35 EDT

In a message dated 8/3/99 8:38:25 AM Mountain Daylight Time, writes:

> > I agree with Glenn here. From a biochemical point of view, there is
> > no difference between the death of a cell and the death of a whole
> > organism.
> This is I believe, a reductionist argument. It reduces the concept of
> animal death, to simply being glorified cellular death. I believe
> this to be inadequate.

Perhaps, but there is no empirical evidence to dispute it, nor do you seem to
offer any. You may be philosophically opposed to the idea that organism
death and cell death are one and the same, but that does not refute this
simple scientific fact.

> > In fact, technically speaking, organism death is non-existent.
> ...which affirms my point. By reducing all concepts of life down to
> the cellular level, you lose the concept of organism death, or
> organism life for that matter. An organism is viewed, technically
> speaking, as just a collection of cells cooperating and interacting
> together. I think a few things are missing in this view, useful as it
> is for some purposes.

There are emergent properties that are characteristic of a whole organism and
not of its parts, but they are produced by the parts cooperating and
interacting together. There is no empirical evidence that any characteristic
of a whole organism is NOT produced by cooperating and interacting parts.

> > Organisms die because their cells die, not because they possess some
> > force of life separate from that of their cells.
> The __mechanism__ of organism death is massive cellular death, but
> there is more to the concept of organism death than just this.

Philosophically perhaps, if you believe in life as a vital force above and
beyond biology, but scientifically there is no evidence to support this point
of view.

> > One thing that Glenn did not mention, which applies to your idea
> > that cells could live and die in balance so that the organism could
> > live forever, is that the tissues that produce cells also have a
> > pre-programmed lifespan. The tissue that produce them can replace
> > dead cells only so many times before it stops replacing them. This
> > program is separate from that which causes apoptosis, but it is also
> > tied to development, in that at certain developmental stages certain
> > tissues turn on while others turn off. This process does not cease
> > with maturity, but simply enters an extended phase in which the
> > tissues that keep us alive are the only ones left functional, and
> > when they start to shut down, the organism dies.
> It would seem quite possible that pre-fall the pre-programmed lifespan
> of appropriate tissues was infinite, and that only post-fall was it
> made finite.

Genetically this is impossible without also making other connected changes.
If you tried to make an immortal tissue it would turn cancerous; in other
words, the same changes that make cancer cells immortal also permit them to
proliferate wildly with nothing to inhibit them, and undifferentiates them so
that they all become just one type of tissue. The result would be that any
multicellular organism would simply be one massive tumor.

> > So in addition to Glenn's question, I would ask, why did God program
> > tissues with limited lifespans if there was to be no death before the
> See above.

Your above statement does not answer the question because it is based on a
lack of biological and genetic knowledge. Now that you know it is not
possible to make an immortal tissue without also making cancerous tissue, I
repeat the question.

Kevin L. O'Brien