Why Do We Die?
“O’er all the hilltops is quiet now, in all the treetops hearest thou hardly a breath; the birds are asleep in the trees: wait; soon like these thou shalt rest.”—JOHANN WOLFGANG VON GOETHE, GERMAN POET.
1, 2. (a) Humans were created with what desire? (b) What kind of life did the first human pair enjoy?
GOD created humans with a yearning to live forever. Indeed, the Bible says that he put “a sense of eternity in their hearts.” (Ecclesiastes 3:11, Beck) But God did more than give humans the desire to live forever. He also gave them the opportunity to do so.
2 Our first parents, Adam and Eve, were created perfect, with no defect in mind or body. (Deuteronomy 32:4) Imagine—no chronic aches and pains, no morbid fears or anxieties! Furthermore, God placed them in a lovely paradise home. God purposed that man would live forever and that in time the earth would be filled with his perfect offspring. (Genesis 1:31; 2:15) Why, then, do we die?
Disobedience Brings Death
3. Eternal life for Adam and Eve depended upon what?
3 God commanded Adam: “From every tree of the garden you may eat to satisfaction. But as for the tree of the knowledge of good and bad you must not eat from it, for in the day you eat from it you will positively die.” (Genesis 2:16, 17) So eternal life for Adam and Eve was conditional; it depended upon their obedience to God.
4. When Adam and Eve sinned, why did they lose the prospect of living forever in Paradise?
4 Tragically, however, Adam and Eve disobeyed God’s law. (Genesis 3:1-6) In doing so, they became sinners, for “sin is lawlessness.” (1 John 3:4) As a result, Adam and Eve no longer had the prospect of eternal life. Why? Because “the wages sin pays is death.” (Romans 6:23) Thus, when pronouncing sentence upon Adam and Eve, God said: “Dust you are and to dust you will return.” Our first parents were then expelled from their Paradise home. On the day that they sinned, Adam and Eve began the slow but steady process of dying.—Genesis 3:19, 23, 24.
“Death Spread to All Men”
5. How did death spread to the entire human race?
5 Adam and Eve now had sin deeply etched in their genes. Hence, they could not produce perfect offspring, any more than an imperfect mold can produce a perfect object. (Job 14:4) Indeed, every human birth confirms that our first parents lost perfect health and eternal life for themselves and their progeny. The Christian apostle Paul wrote: “Through one man sin entered into the world and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men because they had all sinned.”—Romans 5:12; compare Psalm 51:5.
6. Why do we die?
6 Today scientists do not know just why humans grow old and die. The Bible, however, explains that we die because we are born sinful, having inherited this condition from our first human parents. But what happens to us when we die?