Alive? Or Dead?

I very recently came across this rather fascinating article and thought I’d share it with my readers.

Inside the Heated Scientific Debate to Redefine Who Is Dead

According to the article, in March of 2022, a virtual forum (Zoom) was held to re-write the Uniform Determination of Death Act (UDDA), a draft law that has for four decades been the basis for defining who is alive and who is dead in the United States. It was a “crowded meeting of five dozen guests from both the legal and medical realms.”

At the beginning of the article was the following statement: Pandemonium can arise for laws that left up to states, each different state choosing to abide by its own wildly different set of rules. I had to smile as I read this because isn’t this exactly what we’re currently seeing as related to the Abortion issue? And, in fact, one of the participants said essentially the same thing:

“We’re literally legislating what states of life are worth protecting, which is very, very similar to the abortion debate.”
— Thaddeus Pope, Mitchell Hamline School of Law

Although the article includes some “chit-chat” related to the idiosyncrasies of a Zoom meeting, the essence of the discussion engendered several thoughts about … DEATH … and what it means.

I can understand that for legal reasons, it’s important to have a “standard” definition, but based on the various attendees to the meeting, that “standard” seemed a bit difficult to come by. And as I referenced above as related to different rules within the states, one of the participants argued that …

without a universal standard, death in the United States could become a legal and ethical hodgepodge, with different criteria in different states. That means someone could be alive in New York and dead in New Mexico.

Although it’s a long article, I found it rather fascinating and was curious to know what others thought about it. BTW, no formal decision was reached … and the new law’s wording isn’t expected to be agreed on before 2023.

P.S. I tried to select the article as a stand-alone, but was unsuccessful so you will see coverage about other news events at the link. Hopefully, the article won’t disappear to make way for other newsworthy stories, but if it does … I made a copy 🙂 so let me know.

Fear of Death


Someone in the blog world recently observed that acceptance of Christianity later in life is more about one’s emotional feelings related to death than anything else.

I agree.

It has often been demonstrated that when parents follow the biblical instructions in Proverbs to “Train up a child in the way he should go, and when he is old he will not depart from it” — the child will nearly always stay “in the faith” as s/he grows into adulthood. The ongoing and constant indoctrination — from nighttime prayers to grace at dinner to children’s church to church camps to Sunday School and finally, to regular Sunday worship — will most certainly accomplish the prime directive. (This is not to say they will remain in the faith, but that’s a discussion for another time.)

But what about those individuals who were not exposed to this indoctrination? Why do they turn to Christianity as an adult? I think it goes back to the introductory sentence of this blog post … “emotional feelings related to death.”

Or to put it bluntly … Fear of Death.

Naturally, any Christian reading this post who “found Christ” as an adult will disagree and offer a myriad of reasons why they disagree. But speaking from personal experience, I feel I can authoritatively say that FEAR is the underlying motive. Although the fear I felt (as described in the referenced post) was more about the pain and horrors described in the Book of Revelation, it was ultimately about the fear of death.

Believers like to talk a lot about the “love of Christ,” but this is nothing more than a feel-good aphorism used and repeated by church leaders to help people forget … deny … overcome the fear that rests at the core of every human being:  the certainty of our demise.

I’m sure many have noticed that church congregations are often made up of senior citizens. The ever-present realization that death is fast approaching is a strong incentive to believe the oft-repeated (and thus must be true!) promise of everlasting life.

Folks, the cessation of Life is inevitable. And while it may offer comfort to think/believe there is “something more,” until someone reports back … it is nothing more than solace for the soul.

That’s why my personal philosophy lies with the motto coined more than 2,000 years ago by the Roman poet Horace — Carpe Diem!

(Besides, way back in 1965, Doris Day explicitly told us … 🎵”Whatever will be will be.”)

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay



Shakespeare shared this about death (via the words of Macbeth):

Tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow,
Creeps in this petty pace from day to day,
To the last syllable of recorded time;
And all our yesterdays, have lighted fools
The way to dust death. Out, out, brief candle!
Life’s but a walking shadow, a poor player,
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage,
And then is heard no more. It is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.

“To the last syllable of recorded time …” Poetic, to be sure.

Death is viewed in multiple ways. As Wikipedia puts it: There are many scientific approaches and various interpretations of the concept. (I would add there are many spiritual approaches and interpretations as well.)

Many who adhere to Christian beliefs feel death is not the end — that there is an event in which some superior entity decides whether a person has lived a “good” or “bad” life. Depending on the entity’s determination, that person will “move on” to one of two final destinations, one of which is considered to be quite pleasant. The other? Not so much.

However, even those who have no religious ties of any kind often believe/suggest there is an undefined “something more.”

Some see death as simply a transformation into another living form, i.e., reincarnation (which could include a return as a god, a human, an animal, or even a denizen of Hell).

Still others believe in a type of “spiritual evolution” in that after death, spirits progress to new spheres of existence and, as these spirits evolve, they eventually become enlightened beings.

Still others contend that after death, the human entity returns to its source, i.e., the stars — “We are all star stuff.” (Read more about what it means to be “star stuff” here.)

Death is, by its very nature, an unwelcome event. And while there are many who are convinced it is nothing more than a cessation of this life and that there’s “more to come” — until someone “reports back,” all any of us can do is speculate. 

Photo by Mike from Pexels

Your Final Thoughts

I read a blog post this morning in which the writer shared a story that triggered some thoughts I had not previously considered.

Briefly … a little background.

The blogger had been a Christian most of his life and dutifully raised his children in the faith. However, in 2007, his oldest son declared himself to be an atheist. As would be expected, this disturbed the family to no small degree, but it also prompted the blog writer to look more closely at his own faith.

Over the next several years, he spent considerable time reading and doing research related to Christianity and its roots. Little by little, he began his own journey toward atheism.

It was during this time that his aunt, who was a believer, faced imminent death and he went to be with her. Although she (and his mother) were both Christians, he said he managed to avoid discussing religion and simply shared past experiences.

Reading his story, a rather probing question occurred to me — and I’d like to ask it of my atheist audience who have had a religious backgroundespecially those who have been in the evangelical movement where the teaching of heaven and hell is so prevalent.

Imagine …

You are at life’s end. In mere moments, you know you will take your last breath and it will be … The End. Kaput. Finis. The Grand Finale. The Endgame.

My question: Can you HONESTLY say you would be totally free of ANY thoughts related to your eternal destiny?

While at this moment in time I can personally say with confidence that I no longer harbor any fears related to my demise, I do recognize the power of my former Christian beliefs related to life’s end. And I am forced to admit … they could intervene.

So what about you? If you know you’re at death’s door, are you absolutely certain of your final thoughts?

(Please remember — this question is for former believers. If you’ve always been an atheist, it obviously has no relevance. Further, I’m not soliciting thoughts related to any kind of “spiritual” afterlife. It’s all about “that moment.”)

Image by doodlartdotcom from Pixabay

Denying Death

“We cannot rationally deny that we will die, but we think of it more as something that happens to other people.”

So said Yair Dor-Ziderman, a researcher at Bar Ilan University in Israel.

From the moment we recognize we have the ability to look into our own future, we come to the realization that, at some point, we’re going to die.

And there’s nothing we can do about it.

Yet while we inherently recognize it’s an event we cannot avoid, we nevertheless put up numerous defenses to stave off thoughts of our inevitable demise.

In fact, Mr. Dor-Ziderman postulates that the reason we confine sick people to hospitals and elderly people to care homes is because we are “death-phobic.” In other words, we try to hide death from view — even though this may very well result in an even deeper fear of death.

Many people in today’s world avoid thoughts of death by getting on the “escape treadmill.” That is, they focus on hard work, spend more time at the local pub, constantly use their mobile phones, and buy more “stuff.” All in an effort to keep from thinking/worrying about death.

So while we may do our best to avoid thoughts of our life’s end, the unfortunate truth is … there’s really nothing we can do about it.

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Image by OpenClipart-Vectors from Pixabay