This Church Believes Humans Can Live Forever on Earth
Watch "Forever Young," Motherboard's new documentary about the Church of Perpetual Life.
The promise of immortality is core to many religions, but it's rarely as literal as it is at The Church of Perpetual Life, a zealous house of worship in Hollywood, Florida whose members have decided they don't want to die.
"We are fighting against involuntary death, and view immortality as the ultimate solution to every problem mankind faces," said Bill Faloon, one of the church's founders.
His parishioners call themselves "immortalists." Other monikers include transhumanists, "longevity enthusiasts," and "people who really are committed to the anti-aging concept."
Whatever they call themselves, they all share one thing in common: They believe that science and technology will find a way for humans to live forever on Earth.
Motherboard's Claire Evans visited the church and spent time with Faloon, who also cofounded the Life Extension Foundation Inc., which sells a variety of nutritional supplements that promise to do everything from protecting against eyesight degeneration to promoting cell regeneration. The Foundation says its primary goal is to fund research into anti-aging science.
Forever Young, a short documentary produced by Evans, Jaimie Sanchez, and Motherboard, explores the psychology of the church's members, the history of transhumanism and anti-aging, and the reaction of the mainstream medical community to some of these ideas.
Gerontology expert Aubrey Grey, transhumanist and Sirius XM founder Martine Rothblatt, and Dr. Dinarine Maharaj of the South Florida Stem Cell Transplant Institute also make an appearance in the film.
The people Evans spoke to, including Faloon, seem genuine in their quest for eternal life. However, it's hard to overlook the fact that the church was formed after the Life Extension Foundation had its tax-exempt status revoked by the IRS.
Is the Church of Perpetual Life a fellowship of purist transhumanist devotees, or a front for shilling vitamins? Is its promise of immortality a scam that draws in wishful thinkers, or is it actually possible that one day, humans might conquer death?
"Sometimes it's very difficult to draw a line about what seems crazy and what doesn't seem crazy," Evans said, "because crazier things have happened. We went to the Moon. Where do you draw the line and say, 'oh that's really science fiction, that's never going to happen?'"