An article defining life and death, the components of our being, their deaths and possible resurrection.
By Cristo Rey
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What is death? How many deaths are there?
The purpose of this article is to attempt to answer these questions by a consideration of scientific, biblical, and traditional views on these subjects. It is the author's belief that the revealed Word of God instructs us that there are several deaths, including the biological death, but that the biological death will not be the most important one, following our attainment of eternal life as a promise in the teachings of Jesus the Christ.
What is death?
Because there are several different "deaths," there is a necessity to define death in its most general meaning possible, so as to include in a valid way all different kinds of death. In order to accomplish this adequately, the living and non-living states must be defined.
Both living and non-living things have mass, that is to say they both are made up of what we commonly call "matter." In this respect, there are no differences between living and non-living things . . .
"NON-LIVING" things are formed by the complex organization of a variety of atoms and molecules. For example, non-living atoms of the element Carbon first organize themselves by the putrefaction of dying plants and animals to form Petroleum, and as increasingly buried underground by the passage of time, and being exposed there to high external environmental pressure and heat reorganize themselves into Coal, and finally at greater depths, pressure, and heat reorganize themselves further to form Diamonds.
The Petroleum, Coal, or Diamond crystals are then organized carbon atoms, each atom related to its neighbor with slightly different but invariable regularity and uniformity. These complex organizations of carbon atoms are not life, are not alive, and do not display the characteristics or properties of living things. For example, if crushed or broken, they cannot repair themselves, they also cannot reproduce themselves, and they cannot react and adapt to any stimulus in their environment.
Life, or that is to say "LIVING THINGS" are formed by a more complex organization of a variety of non-living atoms, mostly Carbon. A wide variety of non-living atoms and molecules (mostly Carbon) can form cells, tissues, organs, and organisms ALL of which display ALL of the characteristics and properties of living things. The individual atoms making up living things are not alive or living, but by organizing themselves as cells and organisms, they create living things.
The living state and its characteristics are then displayed by a specific and particular organization of otherwise non-living atoms and molecules, the preponderance being Carbon atoms. The key difference is in the way that non-living atoms organize themselves, one way and they create non-living things, a different way and they create living things.
An analogy would be the atoms making up a computer and a car. As a computer, the atoms forming it are not organized to form a thing that is able to move itself and transport us. As a car, the very same atoms can be organized to form a thing that can both move itself and transport us. Another example would be the different organizations which the same human beings can form to create different entities. Particular medical personnel organize themselves together to form a "Hospital" during normal working hours, but the same, identical personnel, can all get together after working hours to create a "Soup Kitchen" for homeless people.
Different ways of organization then makes all the difference in creating non-living things OR living things.
The more correct way of describing this is to say that "living things result from a more complex level of organization of non-living atoms, than the simpler organization employed by the identical non-living atoms to form non-living things."
The essential characteristics of living things are that they can reproduce themselves, that they can repair themselves if injured, and MOST IMPORTANTLY, that they can react and adapt to a stimulus in their environment.
As living beings, we are units organized as a BODY at a still more complex level than that of the cells, tissues, and organs making it up, and consequently we display ALL of the characteristics of living things.
Our BRAIN, as an organ, is a unique organization of cells which can process information, and still more remarkably, can endow us with consciousness of ourselves, of our environment, and of its own functioning to create our self-aware MIND.
By a unique commingling or fusion of our individual emotional experiences on the one hand, and our acquired or individual ideas and beliefs as a reaction to them in their role as a stimulus on the other hand, we develop a distinct and recognizable SOUL, capable of generating personal and individualized sentiments in life.
The emotional and intellectual parts of our brain ALWAYS work in concert, so that ideas and beliefs generate specific emotions, and emotions generate specific ideas and beliefs . . .
Which specific emotion or ideas and beliefs are generated under specific, individual, and unique situations in time, place, and circumstance is due partly to genetic factors, upbringing, culture, education, etc., but for sure are as unique, and individualized as those many factors have combined in time, place, and specific circumstance, to mold us in life . . . Consequently, THEY CANNOT BE REPRODUCED IN ANYONE ELSE ON THIS PLANET . . . our "SOUL" which is the end product of the fusion of interactions between our specific, individualized emotions and ideas and beliefs, in time, place, and circumstance, CANNOT occur or be repeated in any other human being in existence on this planet . . . it is individualized, unique, and without possible equal . . .
By reaction to particular or specific psychological or physical environmental conditions, our soul creates certain frames or states of mind which we call spirits. Although these states of mind are forever changing, depending on changing conditions, we slowly throughout life develop a distinct and recognizable individual SPIRIT, a lingering state of mind that remains resistant to the changing psychological or physical conditions life presents.
Thus, as living beings, we are alive at different levels, which are:
1. BODY - made up of cells, tissues, and organs, which includes the brain as an organ.
2. MIND - the conscious and aware entity created by our brain.
Although hard to believe, our mind is a mere "witness" of our functioning in life, it never initiates anything or any activity. When we say "I'm going to drink some water because I'm thirsty," we are talking as a "witness." What we are really saying is "apparently my body is thirsty, and my intellectual brain thinks it is better to drink water, to furnish the body the water it needs right now." Most likely our mother trained our intellectual brain to drink water not a coke, if we perceived our body was thirsty, "only water quenches a thirst," she probably explained. The author of this article cannot stand to drink water when thirsty, water tastes very bitter to me . . . I can only quench a thirst with a COKE!!!
3. SOUL - the unique individualized mind which integrates thoughts and emotions in us, in highly novel, individual, and unique ways, and is capable of unique and individualized sentiments (the mingling of emotions with particular ideas or thoughts).
Others might not know our names, but readily recognize us as a unique soul. For example, we might not know a certain lady's first and last names, but have heard her express that "she does not like dogs, but loves wolves, and in addition that she likes to wear very heavy sweaters in very hot Summers." No matter if we never learn her name, we can forever recognize her as "that lady, who hates dogs but loves wolves and likes to wear very heavy sweaters in very hot Summers." That particular unique, specific, and individual co-mingling of her emotions and intellectual predilections ARE part of her individual SOUL, identifying her much more specific than her name and last names, something she might share with many other members of the human race. The chances that there will be another human being on this planet that has her same names (say Mary Smith), AND shares the characteristic of hating dogs but loving wolves and likes to wear very heavy sweaters in very hot Summers, are ABSOLUTELY IMPOSSIBLE . . . Thus our soul is forever being created in us, it is a never-ending process, because we are eternally, second by second, co-mingling our emotions with our individualized intellectual positioning concerning the different issues we encounter in our lives. These continually evolve and change during our lifetime.
All the more reason we cannot judge ANYONE in life . . . A particular alcoholic we might judge today as an "irresponsible drunkard, who is probably going to Hell," could give up drinking this weekend, and by next week become more saintly and God-approved than ourselves!!!
"But many that are first shall be last;
and the last shall be first." (Mt 19:30)
"For the Father judgeth no man,
but hath committed all
judgment unto the Son:" (Jn 5:22)
The above statement by Jesus the Christ DOES NOT SAY that "all judgment" was given to you, or to your Pastor and fellow Christians!!!
"JUDGE NO ONE!!!
In the end you might look
like a fool, or worse,
be judged for becoming
an unrecruited Judge . . ."
CAREFUL!!! Jesus will judge you
very severely in the Final Judgment
for having judged others,
usurping his God-given role
as sole Judge of Mankind
"Judge not, that ye be not judged."
[By Him in the Final Judgment!!!] (Mt 7:1)
And . . .
4. SPIRIT - the lingering individualized frame or state of mind which resists us being changed by the ever changing psychological or physical environmental conditions we encounter around us.
All of these share the one paramount characteristic of the living state, the ability to react and adapt to a stimulus . . .
DEATH can occur separately to any, or to all of these components of our being . . .
The most general definition of death is then "the cessation of the living state," and would encompass as its MOST central manifestation the LOSS of the ability to react and adapt to a stimulus.
Death can then happen to any one of the components of our being: body, mind, soul, and spirit, or to all of them together.
How many deaths are there?
From what was explained, it is obvious that there can be five different deaths . . .
Because the different components of our being are interdependent, or more correctly, become interdependent, then one component's death can unavoidably lead to the death of the other components.
The concerted or congruent death of ALL the components of our being is the "BIOLOGICAL DEATH." This is the one which Jesus the Christ overcame by His resurrection (Lk 24:3,46). Contrary to the assertions of most Christian leaders today, His resurrection was into this life (Lk 24:39), this existence, not into another one or into a spiritual or "afterlife," He needed to eat, and had a solid body, and asked St. Thomas to touch his wounds to ascertain that it was HIM, here solidly after His Resurrection. It is this identical resurrection from death that He promised to us (Jn 5:24,29) if we practiced living the way that he taught (Jn 6:68, 11:25) us to live. As promised by Jesus the Christ, when our spirit becomes more akin to God's Spirit (Jesus' Spirit), then it can resurrect the body, and all other components of our being, back into this life, this existence, not into a "spiritual" one (By the Way, About Resurrection . . .).
Our spirit, however, can die while our body, mind, and soul remain alive, this is the "SPIRITUAL DEATH." The spiritual death can lead us into the death of our mind, soul, and body. Only the Word of God through Jesus the Christ can both maintain and resurrect our spirit from its death (Jn 6:63).
Our "soul" can die even if our body does not die, and this is the "LIVING DEATH."
The existence of our soul is dependent on the living state of our brain, and when we deprive or deny our brain of any stimulus, our soul then exists only as a dormant partially-living entity, eventually causing the loss of its life. This deprivation or denial of stimuli for our brain takes many forms, the most common is our decision to ignore or disregard psychological or physical stimuli in our environment. Deliberate ignorance results from our decision to deliberately ignore knowledge and information in our environment, and leads to the "living death" (the death of our soul). Sin or anything that inappropriately monopolizes our mental attention leads to the living death (Jm 1:15, Rm 6:23). Hate or the absence of any emotion of love also leads to the living death. Selfishness or too much self-involvement leads to the living death.
An Emotional depression is the MOST obvious manifestation of the living death. The living death always leads to an untimely and premature biological death. ONLY practicing what Jesus the Christ taught us, and teaches us, can definitely and permanently resurrect us from the living death (Jn 6:63), neither drugs nor psychiatrists, psychologists, or any other medical treatments, can permanently do so . . .
The death of our brain is clinical, and referred to as "BRAIN DEATH" or an Irreversible Coma (Wikipedia: Coma). There is credible evidence that this death can occur while the body, soul, and spirit remain alive for a short or relatively long time. The Word of God through Jesus the Christ can both maintain its living state, and resurrect our brain from its death (Jn 6:63).
The definite and final death of our body can occur, and leads to the death of our brain, mind, soul and spirit, as these are vitally dependent on its living state, and is called "LEGAL DEATH" or just "DEATH." During this final biological death, the definitive final death of the body is delayed for several days after our mind, soul, and spirit have ceased to exist. This process is what makes possible the donation of our intact organs for transplantation, and our organ's intact functioning and survival for a whole new lifetime in the recipient's body. Should the recipient die prematurely but donate the donated organ, the donated organ that he/she received can be transplanted to someone else, and on and on . . . for all of eternity!!! (under normal circumstances, our body, and its organs, ARE ETERNAL).
Our BODY is the most resistant of the components of our being to death. Next is our SPIRIT . . .
During most of our lives, our body and spirit aggressively resist death . . . but we easily succumb to the living death. If we don't have the Love and Words of Jesus the Christ in us, we are in a living death (Jn 6:63), notwithstanding our secular beliefs or non-believing postures about it . . .
Food for thought
Imagine that you are in a funeral home standing next to a corpse who has undergone the biological death, the final death of all of the components of his/her being.
You are asked by someone else to name the capital city of the nation of Gabon in Africa . . . and you can't answer . . . neither can the corpse next to you. You are as dead to that information, and to knowledge about Africa, Gabon, and its people as is the corpse next to you . . . such is the living death.
Your daughter then approaches you with news of her impending move away from home . . . you didn't know this, and you noticed for the first time that she is now a young woman . . . such is the living death.
You leave the place and drive away in your car, reminding yourself about how much you hate your ex-wife, all the while pensive about where and how you can buy the cocaine you have come to love more than life itself . . . such is the living death . . . and you don't see the truck coming . . . a few minutes later you become as the corpse you stood by a few moments before . . .
That is how the living death always leads to an untimely and premature biological one. All the while you had been spiritually dead.
Only the Word of God through Jesus the Christ could have saved you . . . (Jn 6:63)
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