Sunday, August 15, 2021

The Sky is Falling, But Don’t Worry

On the morning of Friday the thirteenth (August 13) I scanned the news headlines, as is my custom during breakfast. I learned that NASA has upgraded the chance of earth being struck by an asteroid to 1 in 1750. This particular asteroid is named Beenu. It could collide with earth sometime between now and the year 2300, with September 24, 2182, being the most likely date.  So mark your calendars! Yet David Farnocchia of NASA's Center for Near Earth Object Studies (CNEOS) insists, “We shouldn't be worried about it very much."

Also among the day’s headlines were the daily COVID updates. These stories reported that cases are rising due to the more contagious Delta variant, as well as the anti-mask and anti-vax movements, and that we should be concerned about the risk to children. That got me wondering about the odds of dying from COVID-19 compared to being hit by a Near Earth Object.

I discovered this is very difficult information to obtain. I did learn that roughly 1 in 1000 New Hampshirites and 1 in 530 Americans have died of COVID so far, and the figures are rising. Those figures do not translate directly into odds of dying of COVID apparently. More data are needed, and there is a lot of misinformation out there. Plus there are individual risk factors that need to be taken into consideration, not the least of which is vaccination status. Yet these preliminary figures show that COVID is to be taken seriously.

Then I researched the risk of dying from other causes. For the average American the odds of dying in a car crash are 1 in 107.  We have a 1 in 88 chance of dying by suicide. The average American has a 1 in 106 chance of dying in a fall. The odds are 1 in 289 that we will die by gunfire. There is a 1 in 8,359 chance we will be killed by police. Odds of dying in an airplane crash are 1 in 205,552.  

The odds of being killed by a foreign-born terrorist are 1 in 45,808. The odds of dying at the hands of illegal immigrant terrorists are 1 in 138,324,873. Yet Americans seem to be plenty worried about terrorists and illegal immigrants. Then there is this interesting fact. The CDC did a study of nonfatal bathroom injuries (That is where our tax money goes!), and they report that we have a 1 in 10,000 chance of being injured by a toilet. Ouch!

Don’t get me wrong. I am not saying that we should drop our guard when it comes to terrorism, COVID … or dangerous commodes. COVID is a real threat. Over 620,000 Americans have died so far. Unvaccinated people are needlessly dying every day because they do not believe there is any danger. Each of these deaths is tragic to family and friends. I am just trying to put things in perspective.

After looking at the figures, I have concluded that life is dangerous. The mortality rate is still 100%. I met a friend at the post office yesterday, and she informed me that her husband died a few days ago. It happens all the time. People die. None of us is getting out of here alive. There is a 1 in 1 chance that you will die. But there is no need to be reckless with our remaining years.

Furthermore there is no need to worry about dying. Why worry about the inevitable? Dying is as natural as living; death as natural as birth. We were not afraid to be born, so why be anxious about dying? Jesus said, “Do not be anxious! Who of you by worrying can add an hour to his life?” 

Everything that is born dies. Species die. The human race will die, either of self-inflicted climate change, nuclear weapons, biological warfare, or natural causes. Even the earth will die eventually – asteroid or not.

Death is simply a transition. In a deeper sense we cannot die. My body and brain will perish, along with its sense of separate identity. But our larger and older identity is eternal. That deeper identity was not born and cannot die. Jesus said, “Before Abraham was, I am.” He was not talking about himself as an individual, but our eternal nature. That is what it means to be made in the image of God.

Solomon said that God has placed eternity in the human heart. The eternity at the heart of existence is what we truly are, whether we believe it or not. Whether we are aware of it or not. The spiritual life is about becoming aware of this reality and living from that timeless truth. So whether asteroids fall, COVID strikes, or toilets attack me, I am. 


Unknown said...

First, trivially grammatical: 'data' is plural, meaning 'data are'; then, 'none' is a shortening of 'no one', making it singular, thus properly 'none is'. Selah.
Time, which is the referent of 'eternity', is wholly a human concept and ought not to serve any evidential purpose of the duration of one's identity. So, Solomon said such and so. I would suggest that Mortimer Snerd said "Eternity is a fiction of human conceptual ability." Two claims, yes? Evidence for either? I side with the latter. Rod

TomCubb said...

Thanks for the observations, Marshall!

Marshall Davis said...

You are correct on both! Corrections made. Thanks!

Unknown said...

Oh, now I see. EACH BLOG has a place for comments. Marshall, I support your devotion to self-expression and spirituality in general.