The Hayflick Limit and The Book of Genesis 120 year Limit imposed on mankind

9 Jun

One of the reasons that I pay so much heed to the accuracy of the Bible, especially Genesis, is because of the accuracy of one particular prediction.

Genesis 6:3

Then the LORD said, “My Spirit will not contend with man forever, for he is mortal; his days will be a hundred and twenty years.”

Before this, according to Genesis, men were living incredibly long life spans. In Genesis 5 it gives an account of Adam’s line and lists the age they were when they died.  The oldest of them was Methuselah who lived until the ripe old age of 969 years. Take a look at Genesis 5 here on Here’s an example of how it reads:

When Adam had lived 130 years, he had a son in his own likeness, in his own image; and he named him Seth. After Seth was born, Adam lived 800 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Adam lived a total of 930 years, and then he died.

When Seth had lived 105 years, he became the fatherof Enosh. After he became the father of Enosh, Seth lived 807 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Seth lived a total of 912 years, and then he died.

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he became the father of Kenan. After he became the father of Kenan, Enosh lived 815 years and had other sons and daughters. Altogether, Enosh lived a total of 905 years, and then he died.

And it goes on like this for quite a while and all of the ages are at least 10 times the human life spans of today.

Until the flood happens and all of a sudden life spans reduced gradually until they settled at our modern figures and it makes a point of this in the text in Genesis 11

Eber lived 430 years…Peleg lived 209 years…Reu lived 207 years…Serug lived 200 years…Nahor lived 119 years

Then we get to Abram, which is another days work.

So what’s the significance of the 120 year limit?

It just so happens that the 120 year limit imposed on us by God, is exactly the same as the human age cap discovered by Leonard Hayflick discovered during his research.

Here is an excerpt regarding the Hayflick Phenomenon from Wikipedia:

“The Hayflick limit was discovered by Leonard Hayflick in 1961, at the Wistar Institute, Philadelphia, when Hayflick demonstrated that a population of normal human fetal cells in a cell culture divide between 40 and 60 times. It then enters a senescence phase . Each mitosis shortens the telomeres on the DNA of the cell. Telomere shortening in humans eventually makes cell division impossible, and it is presumed to correlate with aging.”

Of course this is backed up by the fact that children with the disease Progeria have extremely short telomeres, which is why the age so quickly and get old age related diseases before they hit their teens.

The Hayflick limit describes a limit of approximately 120 years on human life span, which is pretty much an unshakeable limit, unless we find a way to lengthen our telomeres or keep them from shrinking.  We may well increase the average life span until it approaches this limit but to break this limit with the current approach will be like patching an already well worn and excessively patched tyre tube. At some point the tube will simply become unusable and perish.

To break this limit therefore will take a different approach, solve the disease known as old age, allow cells to replicate perfect copies of themselves. If telomeres are kept long and cells  replicate perfect copies of their parent, using the tyre analogy, the tube would self renew and never perish or need to be patched.

Further evidence

The 120 year limit is also backed up by evidence as of the oldest people in the world only one in our history has ever broken the limit. Jeanne Calment lived 122 years and 164 days and ascribed her longevity and relatively youthful appearance for her age to olive oil, which she said she poured on all her food and rubbed onto her skin, as well as a diet of port wine, and ate nearly one kilogram of chocolate every week.  Sounds good to me!!! According to Wikipedia, the next 9 oldest people range from 119 down to 115.

What is the significance of Genesis predicting this 120 year limit?

According to modern scholars, Genesis was written around the 6th century BC (though some believe that Moses wrote them over 4000 years ago).  Until very recently, the average life span would have been about 30 years of age.  Certainly at the time when Genesis was written, this would have been the case. There were exceptions to this of course, for example Rameses II lived until 90 and at the same time outlived the first 13 of his heirs.

My point being that there was no way the authors of Genesis could have known that the limit of man’s life expectancy was 120 years.  The medicine back then, the food, dental practice all led to people dying far before they would ever reach this limit.  This is the uppermost limit and it’s only in modern times have we come anywhere near it due to advances in medicine.

So, the fact that a book, at least 2500 years old, accurately predicts the absolute limit of of our age is to me simply incredible.  If it were 100, it would have been a nice round number to choose in my opinion and would not have been as outrageous a prediction to me.

Can we beat the Hayflick Limit

I personally believe so.  This limit was imposed on our genetics through god/nature.  It is written to have been imposed at the time of the flood, which leads me to the conclusion that there was a great culling of life on Earth, to wipe out the human of the time and replace it with a new (improved or rather inferior) version.  Human 2.0 with an new age limit of 120.  The easiest way to achieve this would be to take a sample from the population, modify it, kill the majority of the rest and then re-spawn the species from this new version.  It is compelling to me that Genesis 6 speaks of this.

“My Spirit will not contend with humans forever, for they are mortal; their days will be a hundred and twenty years…” The Lord saw how great the wickedness of the human race had become on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of the human heart was only evil all the time.The Lord regretted that he had made human beings on the earth, and his heart was deeply troubled. So the Lord said, “I will wipe from the face of the earth the human race I have created—and with them the animals, the birds and the creatures that move along the ground—for I regret that I have made them. ”

But Noah found favor in the eyes of the Lord…

If this limit was imposed on our genetics it should be possible to reverse it.  Lengthening our telomeres is the key to achieving  this or to keep them from shortening each time the cell divides.

Here is an interesting article in the Daily Mail, which is quite interesting and states we could live for 1000 years in the near future… sounds familiar eh! Perhaps if we do this, God will again not be pleased and will once again intercede and send us back to the stone age again?

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