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Time’s Up—A Formula for Death!

January 28, 2013
Time’s Up—A Formula for Death!

You’re going to die.

Not the most inspiring news to read, but someday—unless you believe the second coming of Christ is imminent—everything will die. Now a physicist named Geoffrey West has created a mathematical formula that outlines a general pattern for how long before the inevitable happens—and not just for human beings, but also bugs, plants, birds, algae, elephants … everything! The universal formula has exceptions. But overall, the pattern regularly predicted the lifespan of most organisms.

Robert Krulwich, in his article “Nature Has a Formula That Tells Us When It’s Time to Die,” writes:

It’s hard to believe that creatures as different as jellyfish and cheetahs, daisies and bats, are governed by the same mathematical logic, but size seems to predict lifespan. The formula seems to be nature’s way to preserve larger creatures who need time to grow and prosper, and it not only operates in all living things, but even in the cells of living things. It tells animals for example, that there’s a universal limit to life, that though they come in different sizes, they have roughly a billion and a half heart beats; elephant hearts beat slowly, hummingbird hearts beat fast, but when your count is up, you are over. Plants pulse as well, moving nourishment through their veins. They obey the same commands of scale, and when the formula says “you're done,” amazingly, the buttercup and the redwood tree obey. Why a specific mathematical formula should govern all of us, I don’t completely understand, but when the math says, “it's time,” off we go ... [1]

The basic formula is called a “simple quarter-power exercise,” which starts with the mass of any plant or animal. Its metabolic rate is equal to its mass taken to the three-fourths power. West believes this rule seems to govern all life. Plotting over 700 kinds of plants, the formula accurately predicted lifespan. But some biologists quibble over West’s simplified formula. There are other factors and exceptions that modify results. Of course, the rule is “general” and cannot predict when your dog, pet goldfish, or grandmother will pass on.

Did you know the Bible also has a formula that predicts death? The Scriptures say, “The soul who sins shall die” (Ezekiel 18:20). It also explains, “For the wages of sin is death…” (Romans 6:23). And since “all have sinned” (Romans 3:23), we can know (based on God’s Word) that all human beings are destined to die. The formula is not mathematical; it is spiritual. God has created laws that sustain life. When people choose to break these laws, the natural result is separation from the Life-giver. It’s a rule that governs all existence.

We are not destined to become dirt. Because of the grace of the Lord, we can untangle ourselves from this death trap, this formula that marches us toward the grave. The rest of Paul’s statement to the church in Rome says, “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23, emphasis added).

Though the New York Times spoke of Professor West’s paper as one of the “most influential papers in modern biology,” there is another study worth perusing. It’s called the Bible. Herein is a principle that reveals an interruption to the apparent way of nature. It points to an original plan that life continue forever. Set aside your quibbling. Go research it for yourself ...

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