Back in February, Time ran a cover story on Ray Kurzweil's prediction that technology will cure aging in the coming decades.
This evolution wouldn't actually equal immortality – plagues could erupt and take a toll before being brought under control, and people could die from physical trauma. Nonetheless, it will come as no surprise to you, if you've read any of my six previous posts labelled General: Death, that the idea of even this immortality-lite existence fascinates me.
I wonder: Would this form of immortality make religious practice weaker or stronger? Well, "religion" is a big place, so let's refine that: Would it make Judaism weaker or stronger?
My first thought is that immortality would weaken Jewish practice; many people embrace religion in a search for attachment to something larger than their own limited existence, or out of fear of what happens 'next', but in an immortal existence they would feel less pressure to opt for religion.
On the other hand, it might actually strengthen Jewish practice: One of the disincentives of Judaism is the heavy demand it places upon people's time, and the fear that observing mitzvot will translate into lost opportunities for fun and pleasure. Once we find the Fountain of Youth, though, the pressure to enjoy the moment dissipates.
Further, people whose lives are limitless might feel a greater push to find meaning. In a brief existence, there is relatively little time available for introspection. Extend life by a few centuries, and perhaps more people to stop to think about why they are here.
Those are just beginning thoughts. What can you add?