For more than 150 years there has been some level of scientific argument regarding whether aging in humans and other mammals is purposely genetically programmed because living too long produces an evolutionary disadvantage, or whether aging in mammals is non-programmed because there is no such disadvantage. Although for many decades it was very widely thought that programmed aging in mammals was theoretically impossible, new evolutionary mechanics theories and new discoveries support programmed mammal aging as well as programmed lifespan limitation in non-mammals. The emergence of modern programmed aging theories has created a schism in the bioscience community regarding the programmed/ non-programmed issue. Because the two theories have radically different predictions regarding the fundamental nature of aging and consequently the nature of highly age-related diseases like cancer, stroke, and heart disease, resolving this issue is critical to medical research.
This article summarizes the evolutionary mechanics basis of modern programmed and non-programmed aging theories, describes some of the many ancillary circumstances that continue to prevent resolution of this issue, and recommends steps that could be taken to rapidly resolve the programmed/ non-programmed conundrum.