The search for everlasting life has long been a fascination of humans -- and many have invested enormous time, thought and money into the notion. But is such a thing even possible? And for those who seek escape from physical death, does that mean they would also escape a spiritual afterlife?
Peter Thiel, the billionaire technology investor, is among those who believe it might be possible to evade death by using technological advances. Thiel, of course, co-founded PayPal and in 2002 sold the company to eBay for $1.5 billion. In 2004, he was the first outside investor of Facebook, which now has 1.71 billion users -- and that group is rising by 15 percent every year, according to Zephoria Digital Marketing.
Most recently, Thiel launched Founders Fund, a venture capital fund focused on science, engineering and technology solutions, along with his Paypal partners Ken Howery and Luke Nosek. Founders Fund is forecasted to help the next generation of tech companies, including LinkedIn and Spotify.
Thiel now wants to use previous research and new technology to help him live beyond his years.
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Parabiosis, the process by which youthful blood is transfused into a person's veins, was researched in the 1950s with experiments involving the circulatory systems of rats, as Inc.com reported.
Most recently, Theil has closely followed a study called "Young Donor Plasma Transfusion and Age-Related Biomarkers," as developed by Ambrosia, a company based in Monterey, California. The company was founded by Stanford-trained physician Jesse Karmazin.
The study involves healthy participants who are 35 years old (or older) and receive transfused blood plasma from donors who are under the age of 25, reported Inc. Ambrosia then monitors and researches the effects of the blood transfusion on health and aging. The recipient pays $8,000 and must reside in or travel to Monterey for treatments and follow-up evaluations.
"The effects seem to be almost permanent," Karmazin, Ambrosia's founder, told Inc.com. "It's almost like there's a resetting of gene expression."
Thiel does not intend to promote parabiosis just yet, but is examining it merely for his personal use. And all of this leads naturally to the subject of faith -- and to a discussion of the existence of life after earthly death. (Not coincidentally, Thiel earned a B.A. in philosophy from Stanford University before his J.D. from Stanford Law School.)
"Peter Thiel's quest for eternal life -- in this world -- clearly shows human nature's desire for immortality," said Fr. Michael Sliney, a Catholic priest who works with business and youth groups in New York City and other areas. "The advances of technology have already prolonged life and certainly this trend will continue."
He added, "This life on Earth is more of a pilgrimage or testing ground to reach our true home and true happiness in heaven with God. Death was not a part of God's original plan, but original sin created this new condition of 'mortality.'"
Christians, of course, believe in the resurrection of Jesus Christ, in which He rose from the dead and ascended into heaven to make eternal life accessible to all who believe in Him.
"[Death] also gave us the added advantage of Christ's incarnation," said Fr. Sliney. "In the words of Pope Francis, 'He is there for us, waiting with patience and hope, even when we turn in on ourselves and brood over our troubles and past injuries.' Christ accompanies us. He is cheering us on and waiting for us."
Fr. Sliney administers the sacrament of the Anointing of the Sick as a priest and often finds himself present with people as they near the end of their lives. The Anointing of the Sick is one of the seven sacraments that is believed to bring spiritual -- and sometimes physical -- strength during serious illness or other situations.
"Our Christian Faith, based on divine revelation, tells us; 'Just as it is appointed for mortals to die once, and after that the judgment,'" said Fr. Sliney, quoting Hebrews 9:27. "As a priest, I have accompanied many holy souls in their final moments, and seen them depart this world with deep peace and great hope in eternal happiness with Christ in heaven."
"With faith, death can be a beautiful beginning," Fr. Sliney asserted. "Without faith, death is always a fatal ending."