Every human being has both a minimum and a maximum amount of life hours left to live. If you add together the possible maximum life hours of every living person on the planet, you arrive at a special number: the optimum amount of time for our species to evolve, find happiness, and become the most that it can be. Many reasonable people feel we should attempt to achieve this maximum number of life hours for humankind. After all, very few people actually wish to prematurely die or wish for their fellow humans' premature deaths.
In a free and functioning democratic society, it's the duty of our leaders and government to implement laws and social strategies to maximize these life hours that we want to safeguard. Regardless of ideological, political, religious, or cultural beliefs, we expect our leaders and government to protect our lives and ensure the maximum length of our lifespans. Any other behavior cuts short the time human beings have left to live. Anything else becomes a crime of prematurely ending human lives. Anything else fits the common legal term we have for that type of reprehensible behavior: criminal manslaughter.
In 2001, former President George W. Bush restricted federal funding for stem cell research, one of the most promising fields of medicine in the 21st Century. Stem cells can be used to help fight disease and, therefore, can lengthen lives. Bush restricted the funding because his conservative religious beliefs—some stem cells came from aborted fetuses—conflicted with his fiduciary duty of helping millions of ailing, disease-stricken human beings. Much medical research in the United States relies heavily on government funding and the legal right to do the research. Ultimately, when a disapproving President limits public resources for a specific field of science, the research in that field slows down dramatically—even if that research would obviously lengthen and improve the lives of millions.
It's not just politicians that are prematurely ending our lives with what can be called "pro-death" policies and ideologies. In 2009, on a trip to Africa, Pope Benedict XVI told journalists that the epidemic of AIDS would be worsened by encouraging people to use condoms. More than 25 million people have died from AIDS since the first cases began being reported in the news in the early 1980s. In numerous studies, condoms have been shown to help stop the spread of HIV, the virus that causes AIDS. This makes condoms one of the simplest and most affordable life extension tools on the planet. Unfathomably, the billion-person strong Catholic Church actively supports the idea that condom usage is sinful, despite the fact that such a malicious policy has helped sicken and kill a staggering amount of innocent people.
Hank Pellissier, a futurist, organizer of the conference Transhuman Visions, and blogger at the World Future Society, says, "The public majority disapproves of Christian Scientist and Jehovah's Witness parents who deny medicine to children afflicted with life-threatening illness. The public regards the anti-science attitudes of these faiths as unacceptable. Likewise, we should similarly disapprove of the withholding of any medicine or life extension practices that deter death for individuals, of any age."
Regrettably, in 2014, America continues to be permeated with an anti-life extension culture. Genetic engineering experiments in humans often have to pass numerous red-tape-laden government regulatory bodies in order to conduct any tests at all, especially at publically funded universities and research centers. Additionally, many states still ban human reproductive cloning, which could one day play a critical part in extending human life. The current US administration is also culpable. The White House is simply not doing enough to extend American lifespans. The US Government spends just 2% of the national budget on science and medical research, while their defense budget is over 20%, according to a 2011 US Office of Management Budget chart. Does President Obama not care about this fact, or is he unaware that not actively funding and supporting life extension research indeed shortens lives?
In my philosophical novel The Transhumanist Wager, there is a scene which takes place outside of a California courthouse where transhumanist activists are holding up a banner. The words inscribed on the banner sum up some eye-opening data: By not actively funding life extension research, the amount of life hours the United States Government is stealing from its citizens is thousands of times more than all the American life hours lost in the Twin Towers tragedy, the AIDS epidemic, and the Vietnam War combined. Demand that your government federally fund transhuman research, nullify anti-science laws, and promote a life extension culture. The average human body can be made to live healthily and productively beyond age 150.
Some longevity experts think that with a small amount of funding—$50 billion dollars—targeted specifically towards life extension research and ending human mortality, average human lifespans could be increased by 25-50 years in about a decade's time. The world's net worth is over $200 trillion dollars, so the species can easily spare a fraction of its wealth to gain some of the most valuable commodities humans have: health and time.
Unfortunately, our species has already lost a massive amount of life hours; billions of lives have been unnecessarily cut short in the last 50 years because of widespread anti-science attitudes and policies. Even in the modern 21st Century, our evolutionary development continues to be significantly hampered by world leaders and governments who believe in non-empirical, faith-driven religious doctrines—most of which require the worship of deities whose teachings totally negate the need for radical life extension science. Virtually every major leader on the planet believes their "God" will give them an afterlife in a heavenly paradise, so living longer on planet Earth is just not that important.
Back in the real world, 150,000 people died yesterday. Another 150,000 will cease to exist today, and the same amount will disappear tomorrow. A good way to reverse this widespread deathist attitude should start with investigative government and non-government commissions examining whether public fiduciary duty requires acting in the best interest of people's health and longevity. Furthermore, investigative commissions should be set up to examine whether former and current top politicians and religious leaders are guilty of shortening people's lives for their own selfish beliefs and ideologies. Organizations and other global leaders that have done the same should be scrutinized and investigated too. And if fault or crimes against humanity are found, justice should be administered. After all, it's possible that the Catholic Church's stance on condoms will be responsible for more deaths in Africa than the Holocaust was responsible for in Europe. Over one million AIDS victims died in Africa last year alone. Catholicism is growing quickly in Africa, and there will soon be nearly 200 million Catholics on the continent.
As a civilization of advanced beings who desire to live longer, better, and more successfully, it is our responsibility to put government, religious institutions, big business, and other entities that endorse pro-death policies on notice. Society should stand ready to prosecute anyone that deliberately promotes agendas and actions that prematurely end people's useful lives. Stifling or hindering life extension science, education, and practices needs to be recognized as a legitimate crime.
Zoltan Istvan is an award-winning journalist, philosopher, and activist. You can find him on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and LinkedIn. Zoltan is also the author of the recently published #1 Philosophical bestseller novel The Transhumanist Wager. Available in ebook or paperback, the controversial novel is a revolutionary reading experience. You can check it out here.