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Death: a mythological misconception

From the April 1997 issue of The Christian Science Journal

Does that surprise you? Well, it's true! Death is only a mythological misconception— which is just a fancy way of saying that it is an illusion. To human perception, of course, it seems inescapable, concrete reality. But it can't be true, because God, the only creator, is eternal Life, and man is God's likeness. What appears to be death, then, must be an illusion. I know, because at one point in my life I was almost fooled by the impressiveness of the illusion. But more of that later.

We've all been tricked by mirages and illusions. I had a rather frightening experience in my late teens when I was working as a mother's helper. The parents had gone for the weekend, leaving me in charge of their three young daughters. The first night the girls said they had something very special to show me. They made me stay out of their room for about five minutes, and I could hear them scurrying around. Finally I was allowed to enter and was asked to be seated at the far end of the room. The lights were dimmed, and the youngest, only six years old, was lying on a narrow bed with a cover over her. The two older ones announced that they were going to make her float in the air, but I was cautioned that if I made any noise, it would break the spell and she would fall. My amusement at their little play came to an abrupt halt when the child in a supine position did begin to rise and float off. I was so startled I screamed. And the child fell back! Of course, it turned out to be a total but most convincing illusion, created with the simple props of a broom and a blanket.

We seem to be just as easily taken in and frightened by the illusion called death. And why not? Through the ages human observation and analysis have decided that death is real and that nothing could be more obvious. Man appears to be a physical being who is born into matter and dies out of matter. So philosophers have accepted death as inevitable, and theologians have often felt that the easiest way to explain it is that it's God's will, therefore we must submit to it.

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