According to the Oxford Dictionary, death in simple terms is defined as an end of life. An analysis of this definition shows that death is the opposite of life. But then I ask myself, what is life and what constitute it. This paper contains a critical analysis of death in broader perspective from different angles.
From a logical point of view, the two words ‘life’ and ‘death’ should critically alternate in meaning when described as opposite words. For example, the same Oxford dictionary defines life as a special condition in both plants and animals that involves having a functional activity, the ability to grow, reproduce and the presence of a continual change. When considering any medical conditions such as brain death and coma, the entire definition of death is critically compromised. Brain death is the state of having deoxygenated brain, presumably due to head injury (ALTudor 4). In this state, the body functionality, growth and ability to reproduce are compromised. Patients in these states have their involuntary activities compromised. Therefore, they have a beating heart but are unable to breath on their own. Removal of their breathing machine often leads to an instant death. Once a patient is in this state he or she cannot recover from it.
Conditions such as brain death and coma make one wonder, which organ is the determining factor of life? Is it the heart or the brain? Medical professionals will presumably conclude that the heart is the determining factor of life or death, since the absence of a heart impulse is the main concluding factor of death. From a rational point of view, a person with brain death is as good as dead. This is because, the main difference between the two states is that in one case, rotting will consequently follow and in the other case no decomposition will occur.
There are several physical changes in the human body which have been attributed to death over time. Once these attributes are manifested in person, he or she is pronounced dead. Some of the commonly used observable features include: a drastic fall of body temperature indicating absence of body metabolism, a purple color change of body parts due poor blood movement, absence of certain eye reflexes and occurrence of rigid muscles (De Spelder & Strickland 6). This determining factors do not necessarily apply in all instances, especially in patients with brain death or coma. Surely with the consideration of modern science and medicine, the definition of death becomes more dynamic.
Another interesting consideration is the soul. It is considered being a spiritual aspect of the human body regarded as immortal. According to many religions, Christianity being one of the them, the exit of the soul from a person is regarded as death (Finley 6). Then one wonders, what are the contributing circumstance that trigger a soul to exit a human? Where is it located? And if a soul can exit a human, is there a possibility of it to be returned to its original body? This and many more questions still remain unanswered when considering a soul in defining death.
From a religious point of view, especially in the Christian denomination, death is not regarded as the end of life as such. According to the Bible, death is regarded as a divine calling. It is more of a stepping stone toward a better place for those with faith. The psalmist in psalms chapter four, verses three to four describes deliverance of the soul in life before death (Finley 8). Therefore, this show that the way of life and faith of a person is the determining factor of where the soul goes. Deliverance of the soul after death is impossible in this case. Considering the letter written to the romans in romans chapter six verse twenty-three, death is described to be the payment of sin. But when analyzing the statement, what form of death is described? Is it the death of a soul or the physical body? As the verse continues it describes the eternal life as a gift from God through Jesus Christ (Finley 6). Logically, this does not mean that the only people who die are the evil, but brings an understanding of a possible eternal death and eternal life even after the physical death.
The Bible also acknowledges the inert state of death. For example, in Ecclesiastes chapter nine verse nine, the dead are described to be unable to praise, worship or even have wisdom. Therefore, it does not a proof any communication between the dead and the living (Finley 7). Ecclesiastes describes the dead to have no participation in anything done in the land of the living. On the other hand, other doctrine and traditions acknowledge the connection between the living and the dead. Many African traditions have several rituals which are performed to appease the dead, and some even relates catastrophic events to the wrath of the dead especially the ancestors.
From the above discussion, death is clearly a prolonged state of unconsciousness. Jesus Christ defined this state as ‘sleep’. The inability to perform or do things done by the living can be described as a state of death. The experience of death remains to be a mystery only the dead understand.
ALTudor . Brain Death and Coma: A HealthCentral Explainer. Heath Central. 09 July, 2012 http://www.healthcentral.com/skin-care/c/978365/154396/healthcentral/
De Spelder, Lynne Ann and Albert, Lee Strickland. “Encountering Death and Dying.McGraw Hill
Finley, Mark. “State of Dead.” 7 February, 2009. Crossbearer.net. HTML. 31 May 2016.
SEE ALSO: Existence of God Research Paper