Death and Science

Usually the couplet is “death and taxes,” but for the moment we consider the relationship between death and science, or rather between death and the common philosophical interpretation of science, evolution, especially when Christians attempt a hybrid between evolution and God called “theistic evolution.”

Death presents a basic difficulty.  What is death?  Is that not when the heart stops and the brain functions cease?  No, that is the evidence of death, but that does not tell us what death is.  It is amusing to ask of science what the definition of death is: since it can’t even adequately define what life is, when it comes to death, all it can say is that whatever life is, it isn’t there any more – death is the absence of life.

Actually, it is significant to admit that death is the absence of something.  Life is more than a chemical reaction, since the very same physical material that supports life, after death it continues to have chemical reactions, however these are called “decay.”  “Life” forces a different direction from what the chemicals and compounds in the body naturally tend toward.

And it isn’t a matter of the lack of “energy.”  My Dad had once brought home a device that had electrodes on an inside cavity, where one end of a hot dog was pushed on the cone-shaped electrode on the one side, then the other end to the electrode on the other side, and when the cover was closed, raw electrical power would course through the meat.  Although all the makings for life were already in the meat, the energy did not give it life, but rather cooked the meat.  The enormous power of a lightning bolt (as in Frankenstein) does not create or even restore life, but rather simply destroys it.  Even the famed defibrillator cannot restore a heartbeat from a “flat line” – actually it is meant to stop a heart from its erratic beating, allowing it to reset itself back to a normal rhythm, if possible.

The Bible tells us that the Source of life is God:  “… He gives life, breath, and all things to all “ [Acts 17:25]; “… the breath of the Almighty gives me life” [Job 33:4].  So if death marks the absence of life, therefore, Biblically speaking, it marks the absence of the Source of Life, God.  In the New Testament, when Jesus defines His Person as Life (“ I am … the Life [John 11:25; 14:6]), St John states in his first letter: “He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life” [I, 5:12] – the lack of life is identified as the absence of God the Son.

That is the Biblical concept of death – and it is described as the result of the disconnect with God that came along with the rebellion of sin: “but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die” [Genesis 2:17].  “Sin entered the world [Greek: cosmos] and death by sin” [Romans 5:12]; “Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin; and sin when it is full-grown brings forth death” [James 1:15].
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It is interesting that some have applauded Adam and Eve when they took of the forbidden fruit, because they began to “think for themselves,” and it could be interpreted that way.  But, as I mention on my website, a deep sea diver with the bell helmet and the air hose to the surface may decide he also wants to be free and unencumbered from the surface.  In “rebellion” to the restriction from above, he whips out his knife, cuts off his lifeline, and indeed achieves his freedom.

Of the people that I have asked, the response to such an action has been a resounding “that would be stupid!”  To “think for oneself” would also require one to weigh the consequences and benefits of such an action.  The sad reality of being a human and not gods (which incidentally was what Adam and Eve were struggling with) is that we are constantly under limitations that are beyond our control: gravity, need for sunshine, air, food and all the rest.  I remember back in perhaps the 1960’s how it was proclaimed that all we would eventually need for our daily sustenance was merely a pill a day.  Now we realize how important fiber is and how we are locked into even needing a quantity of protein that our bodies just do not make on their own.  And without gravity, the astronauts’ bones begin to loose their density.

In several ways, we find that we just cannot cut ourselves loose from the many things that rule our lives.  Like the diver, yes, we can try to cut ourselves off from being dependant on anything, even the Jehovah of Covenant.  But it is also true that whenever one is cut off from the source of what life requires, there is indeed a penalty to be paid called death.  It has nothing to do with God being petulant, instead it has everything to do with humans doing really foolish things with catastrophic results.

The difficulty in regard to evolution, however, comes when God defines His Glory in Exodus 33 & 34 as His goodness, His Covenant relationship, His grace and mercy, His steadfast love and forgiveness, and His justice.  I John 4:8-10 states that God is love (see the last blog), therefore His “steadfast love” as part of His nature plays a major role for His creative activity; His “goodness” as part of His Glory would be echoed in the repeating comment “and it was good” in the Genesis 1 of creation.  Is it not strange then when the God Who describes “justice,” “grace” and “mercy” as His Glory would use the natural resulting punishment for rebellion (death) on life-forms whose only “crime” is that they are in the way of the next evolutionary step?  And considering that according to evolutionists we are not the end product, how soon will it be before we are merely “in the way”?

“Theistic Evolution” demands that God must act in contradiction to His Glory and therefore His nature.

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