Immortality is the concept of having eternal life or a perpetuity of existence. An immortal being has the potential of living an infinite or indeterminate length of time. Immortality can refer to a concept of living in either a spiritual or physical form.
The most common form of immortality believed in today involves a spiritual existence of the soul after physical death. The doctrine of immortality is taught in the Biblical Old Testament, with Christians holding to a full revelation of this doctrine by way of the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The Bible teaches that death came into the world as a result of sin, but we remain potentially immortal beings that may be resurrected to a new life in heaven. The book of Genesis also clearly implies that humans were designed to live immortal in their physical body before Adam and Eve committed the original sin. This action which caused God to curse the creation is formally known as the fall of man.
Physical immortality is theoretically possible for any lifeform, and the factors which cause organisms to begin to grow old and die remain largely hypothetical.
The most widely accepted theory to explain cellular mortality proposes that the ends of chromosomes (telomeres) degrade through time, and active genes eventually become affected by similar erosion. However, programmed cell death (apoptosis) is now known to occur, and clearly indicates a control mechanism is governing cellular mortality. Cells are responding to signals we do not yet recognize, and will essentially die on a preprogrammed schedule.
It is also now well established that plant and animal cell lines can be easily immortalized. Immortalized plant tissue can be obtained by simply isolating the plant's wound-response tissue called callus. When separated from the plant's signaling mechanism that tell the cells to die, callus will grow indefinitely in tissue culture.
Cancer cells are considered immortalized. They have become genetically unresponsive to the signals that would normally restrict cells from replicating their DNA and dividing. Unlike their host organism, immortalized cell lines will continue to grow and divide as long as their necessary elements are maintained.
Multicellular organisms are designed so that new cells replace older cells on a never-ending cycle. If a cell is provided all the metabolites and nutrients it needs to survive, its lineage should never die-out. But due to some unknown cause they simply cease.
Plants are actually or potentially immortal organisms that will live indefinitely provided their environmental requirements are met. In striking contrast to plants, humans and animals have a maximum life expectancy regardless of whether their needs are fulfilled. Although it is true that some plants grow as annuals, all plants are actually perennials by nature, and have adapted to a programmed life cycle in some instances to match growing seasons. Otherwise, plants only die because of biochemical starvation or disease. If their physical requirements are met, plants will grow indefinitely.
- Main Article: Fall of man
The Tree of Life was a tree in the Garden of Eden that was placed there so humans could live forever. According to Genesis 2-3 , upon eating of the forbidden Tree of Knowledge, God immediately removed Adam and Eve from the garden, and placed a flaming sword to guard the tree so they could not eat from the Tree of Life. In Genesis 3:22-23 , God is quoted as saying "He must not be allowed to reach out his hand and take also from the tree of life and eat, and live forever." So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden...
There remains some debate within the theological and creation science community regarding the nature of this immortality. However, many people assume humans were originally designed to be physically immortal, but this ability was somehow linked to the aforementioned Tree of Life. Perhaps the fruit from the tree contained some factor that was able to transform the biochemical nature of humans, slowing or arresting programmed cell death (apoptosis). As a result of the actions of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, they brought death to all mankind through their disobedience.
- Adam and Eve will Surely Die, Sudden Death? (anti-YEC site)