Immortality (or eternal life) is the concept of living in physical or spiritual form for an infinite length of time. [(cf Concise Oxford Dictionary]

As immortality is the negation of mortality—not dying or not being subject to death—it has been a subject of fascination to mankind since at least the beginning of history. The "Epic of Gilgamesh", one of the first literary works, dating back at least to the 22nd century BCE, is primarily a quest of a hero seeking to become immortal.]

According to the book of Enoch, the righteous and wicked await the resurrection in separate divisions of sheol, a teaching which may have influenced Jesus' parable of Lazarus and Dives. ["New Bible Dictionary" 3rd edition, IVP Leicester 1996. "Sheol".] Christians believe that every person that believes in Christ will be resurrected; Bible passages are interpreted as teaching that the resurrected body will, like the present body, be both physical (but a renewed and non-decaying physical body) and spiritual.

Specific imagery of resurrection into immortal form is found in the Pauline letters:

Behold, I shew you a mystery; We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed,
In a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump: for the trumpet shall sound, and the dead shall be raised incorruptible, and we shall be changed.
For this corruptible must put on incorruption, and this mortal must put on immortality.
So when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption, and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, Death is swallowed up in victory.
O death, where is thy sting? O grave, where is thy victory?
The sting of death is sin; and the strength of sin is the law.
But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord. —

Physical immortality has also been imagined as a form of eternal torment, as in Mary Shelley's short story "The Mortal Immortal", the protagonist of which witnesses everyone he cares about dying around him. Jorge Luis Borges explored the idea that life gets its meaning from death in the short story "'The Immortal"; an entire society having achieved immortality, they found time becoming infinite, and so found no motivation for any action.

Desirablity of immortality

Many religions promise their faithful an eternal paradise in an afterlife. These presume perfection, as they are part of a divine plan, and are categorically desirable.

Physical immortality is considered desirable over its counterpart, death, which to date has been inevitable for all human beings. This presumes tolerable living conditions as an incentive for perpetual life, as the prevalence of suicide demonstrates.


There are numerous symbols representing immortality. Pictured here is an Egyptian symbol of life that holds connotations of immortality when depicted in the hands of the and pharaohs who were seen as having control over the journey of life, the ankh (left). The Möbius strip in the shape of a trefoil knot is another symbol of immortality. Most symbolic representations of infinity or the life cycle are often used to represent immortality depending on the context they are placed in. Other examples include the Ouroboros, the Chinese [ fungus of longevity] , the "ten" kanji, the phoenix, and the colors amaranth (in Western culture) and peach (in Chinese culture).


Immortal beings and species abound in fiction, especially fantasy fiction.

ee also

*List of life extension-related topics
* Actuarial escape velocity
* Amaranth
* Ambrosia
* Amrita
* Bioethics
* Biogerontology
* Chiranjeevin
* Alex Chiu
* Consciousness
* Crown of Immortality

* Cryonics
* Elixir of life
* Eternal youth
* Holy grail
* Immortal DNA strand hypothesis
* Immortalist Society
* Immortality Institute
* Immortality test
* Indefinite lifespan

* Infinity
* Internal alchemy
* Henrietta Lacks
* Lich
* Life extension
* List of immortal people
* Longevity
* Methuselah Mouse Prize
* Molecular nanotechnology
* Omega Point (Tipler)

* Organlegging
* Posthuman
* Queen Mother of the West
* Real death
* Rejuvenation (aging)
* Simulated reality
* Suspended animation
* Technological singularity
* Nikola Tesla
* Xian (Taoism)


Further reading


External links

cientific and engineering prospects for immortality

* [ The Methuselah Foundation] Aubrey de Grey's non-profit organization dedicated to finding a cure for aging
* [] Ray Kurzweil resource site
* [ Immortality Online] News feeds on immortality and human life extension
* [ Pimm - Partial immortalization] Blog of Tulane research scientist Attila Chordash
* [] Chris Smelick's Biogerontology site
* [ Vitae Institute] Chris Smelick's non-profit organization
* [ Immortality Institute] Scientific and sociological discussions, activism, research

Religious and spiritual prospects for immortality

* [ "Death and Immortality"] "Dictionary of the History of Ideas", etext at the University of Virginia Library
* " [ The Immortality of the Soul and the Resurrection of the Body] " Lecture by Heinrich J. Vogel
* [ "Eternity: Christ’s Return, Chiliasm, Resurrection of the Dead, Judgment, Hell, Luther on Eternity, Heaven"] J. P. Meyer, "The Northwestern Lutheran", August 22, 1954, Vol. 41, # 17 to April 14, 1957, Vol. 44, #8
* [ "How you Can Have Eternal Life"] Jack Graham, PowerPoint Ministries,
* [ Got Eternal Life?] Got Questions Ministries
* [ Immortality] Taoist essay,

In literature

* Mary Shelley's " [ The Mortal Immortal] "

Time Topics

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