Earlier this month, tech multi-millionaire and anti-aging obsessionist Bryan Johnson invited 2,500 people to apply for a spot in his latest endeavor. “Project Blueprint” is a 90-day, watered-down version of Johnson’s extreme $2-million-per-year anti-aging regimen. The project’s goal is simply, “Don’t die.”
In addition to a $999 entry fee, those accepted will spend $333 per month on food products that make up about 400 calories of a daily diet. Those interested in tracking their progress more closely can purchase “more advanced biomarker measurements” for an additional $800 or $1,600, depending on the desired tier.
Spending at least $2,000 on a three-month “self-experimentation study” that does not include daily groceries is a heavy lift. However, in less than 50 hours, 8,000 people had applied.
In addition to his celebrity status, one factor that makes Johnson’s immortality experiment so compelling is the myth of “progress” that still holds significant sway over the modern world. With that myth comes the illusion that eventually, somehow, we will gain mastery over our mortality. After all, thanks to modern medicine, deadly diseases like measles, mumps, and polio—diseases that once devastated mankind—are now largely preventable. Others, like smallpox, have even been declared eradicated. Add in modern innovations such as public sewage, running water, and increased agricultural production, and in under 200 years, the average human lifespan has nearly doubled.
Scientific discoveries and medical advancements are gifts of God. And yet, for all the benefits brought to the common good, a common side effect has been an inflated sense of control. It’s not difficult to see why so many people remain convinced that death can be defeated with ever newer and more impressive technologies.
This illusion of control over mortality has captivated more than the technocrats, Silicon Valley elites, and their followers. It’s at least partially behind the ever-growing demand for anti-aging creams, innovative diet and workout regimens, and supplements. The promises of extended life are particularly convincing in a culture detached from the transcendent. All our machines, screens, and urban sprawl leave us increasingly out of touch with the grandeur of God’s creation. Much of the “progress” we celebrate reinforces the notion that meaning and purpose are self-determined, solely up to the autonomous individual.
The problem with the modern version of man’s attempts at immortality is neither the desire for it nor a hatred of death. The Bible is clear that humans are made for eternal life with God through Christ, and that death is a bad thing, not the way it’s supposed to be, a result of man’s sin. Life should be desired; death should be hated.
Our attempts to master mortality in our own strength stand in opposition to a fundamental truth about reality and humanity repeated in Holy Scripture. The Psalmist sums it up rather well: “Know that the Lord, He is God; It is He who made us and not we ourselves” (Psalm 100:3, NKJV). In the words of theologian Ephraim Radner, it is a feature of modern life to reject “the basic limits of our lives as creatures” and, as such, the God who made them.
Death is evil. Yet, for the time being, it is our lot. Thanks to Christ, death does not have the last word. In fact, in the cross of Christ, God took on death so that we might have life everlasting. Through Christ’s death and resurrection, death is transformed, as Dietrich Bonhoeffer reportedly said as he walked to the gallows, from the “end” to the “beginning of life.”
Jesus said, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick.” Denying, downplaying, or attempting to control death robs people of the healing they ultimately need, restoration in Christ, the Great Physician. It is when we courageously confess our plight of death and sin that we find life.
In a culture that refuses to accept mortal limits, Christians must not succumb to fear-filled, denial-ridden attempts to eliminate or control mortality in their own strength. While we can and should work to improve ourselves, including our physical health and wellbeing, we can face our mortality with humility and courage and, especially, hope. After all, we know the One who conquered death.
This Breakpoint was co-authored by Jared Hayden. For more resources to live like a Christian in this cultural moment, go to breakpoint.org.
Image credit: ©Unsplash/Annie Spratt
The views expressed in this commentary do not necessarily reflect those of Christian Headlines.
BreakPoint is a program of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview. BreakPoint commentaries offer incisive content people can't find anywhere else; content that cuts through the fog of relativism and the news cycle with truth and compassion. Founded by Chuck Colson (1931 – 2012) in 1991 as a daily radio broadcast, BreakPoint provides a Christian perspective on today's news and trends. Today, you can get it in written and a variety of audio formats: on the web, the radio, or your favorite podcast app on the go.
John Stonestreet is President of the Colson Center for Christian Worldview, and radio host of BreakPoint, a daily national radio program providing thought-provoking commentaries on current events and life issues from a biblical worldview. John holds degrees from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (IL) and Bryan College (TN), and is the co-author of Making Sense of Your World: A Biblical Worldview.