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Wednesday, August 5, 2009, 4:37 PM

In the book of Genesis it notes that the human lifespan is limited to a maximum of 120 years. And since God is a mathematician, it shouldn’t be surprising that this rate of mortality is an exponential function:

What do you think are the odds that you will die during the next year?  Try to put a number to it — 1 in 100?  1 in 10,000?  Whatever it is, it will be twice as large 8 years from now.

This startling fact was first noticed by the British actuary Benjamin Gompertz in 1825 and is now called the “Gompertz Law of human mortality.”  Your probability of dying during a given year doubles every 8 years.  For me, a 25-year-old American, the probability of dying during the next year is a fairly miniscule 0.03% — about 1 in 3,000.  When I’m 33 it will be about 1 in 1,500, when I’m 42 it will be about 1 in 750, and so on.  By the time I reach age 100 (and I do plan on it) the probability of living to 101 will only be about 50%.  This is seriously fast growth — my mortality rate is increasing exponentially with age.

As the fascinating article notes, the Gompertz law holds across a large number of countries, time periods, and even different species: “While the actual average lifespan changes quite a bit from country to country and from animal to animal, the same general rule that “your probability of dying doubles every X years” holds true.”

(Via: Marginal Revolution)

August 5th, 2009 | 5:19 pm

I think that Genesis 6:3 refers to the number of years before the onset of the flood. It certainly isn’t an immediate limitation on a man’s life span, because Arphaxad (to cite one example), whom Shem begets two years after the flood, lives over four hundred years (see Genesis 11). On the other hand, it’s possible that a 120-year limit (if that’s the correct reading) could begin much later: “his days shall be” doesn’t specify when in the future this will take place.

August 5th, 2009 | 8:45 pm

Althoug you are 25, (or were at the date of writing), I have attended 11 family/friends funerals since my mom died in May 2008.

They ranged in age from 87 (mom, coming home after Four Score and Seven Years) to age 22, a young man set to be best man in a family wedding, who took surfing vacation in the Pacific and broke his neck.

The math can be made to whatever you want to say. But the probabilty of any given person lasting past today is 50%. You will die, or live, another day.

I see news all the time proclaiming “Oldest Man Alive Dead at 113″ or some such nonsense.
No matter who dies anywhere, there is simultaneously and always, an oldest man alive somewhere.

People get cancer and recover.
People divorce and recover.
People go bankrupt and recover.

The only time you do not recover is when you are dead. And then, it doesn’t matter. So I would not put a lot of thought on the numbered days left on a given person, especially me (or you, in your case).

Psalm 90:14 says “Satisfy us in the morning with your unfailing love, that we may have joy all the days of our life” (off the top of my head; not verbatim).

Listen to the Psalmist. Take it one day at a time.
God bless you abundantly on THIS particular day.

August 6th, 2009 | 1:38 pm

It’s comforting to know that I will die sometime, at least. Else I would continue to get crankier indefinitely, and my body would continue to get more decrepit and painful indefinitely.

Death is surely the “friend of fallen man.”