A Problem with Immortality

Last night’s episode of the BBC television series Around the World in Eighty Faiths, presented by Pete Owen Jones, featured an interesting religious group. Some would call them a cult. I certainly would.
They were a group of African-Americans who had moved to Israel following a revelation to their leader. The revelation seemed to state that Africans were part of the lost tribe of Israel.
The group are called the African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem (or The African Hebrew Israelites of Jerusalem or Black Hebrews).
What was most fascinating about their beliefs was that the leader of the group, Ben Ammi Ben-Israel (whom in a previous life was a Chicago steel worker called Ben Carter) seemed to think that the group would be capable of discovering the means to achieve immortality in their own lifetimes. By immortality he meant physical immortality within the present body, rather than any form of non-corporeal immortality on a higher spiritual plane. This immortality seemed to be achievable through eating a healthy diet, so I think that he’s being excessively optimistic, but then you don’t get anywhere unless you’ve got unrealistic expectations.
The spokesman for the community who appeared in the programme, called Prince Immanuel Ben-Yehuda (probably not a real prince), was obviously working very hard to achieve this state of immortality – however, at the very same time he was evidently working very hard to increase the world’s population. He had twenty children (at the last count), through his three wives (He emphasized that the Bible stated that this was okay).
But, but…
Doesn’t he realize that immortality and child production are mutually incompatible? If people were to live forever and still had children the planet would soon fill to bursting, due to the fact that no one would die and get out of the way (Things are getting bad enough as it is, with people staying alive for eighty or so years, never mind for all of eternity).
Come on, African Hebrew Israelite Nation of Jerusalem, let’s have some joined-up thinking.
This point (though without reference to the cult mentioned here), and others concerning the problems of immortality, is expanded upon in my soon to be released book, details of which are here.

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Filed under Philosophy, Religion/atheism

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