“One way that people try to achieve immortality is to figure out how to live longer and longer in order to cheat death,” I said.
I asked Clay about futurologists who talk about uploading our minds into a machine or scientists who study how improving our diets or finding new ways to fight diseases might add years to our lives.
“If scientists were able to cure all cancers, people would only live an average of 2.265 years longer,” he said. “A Harvard demographer [a population scientist] computed this. It doesn’t matter—we’ll die of something else. And when it comes to uploading our mind into a computer so we can be avatars in a virtual world or transferred into a robot . . . of course it’s science fiction.”
After all of his research and study, Clay concluded that there’s no way to avoid death. “God has determined that people are going to die,” he said. “Hebrews 9:27 says that ‘people have to die once. After that, God will judge them.’ We all will die. The big question, then, becomes how to make sure we spend eternity with God.”
The Bible points to a clear path to eternal life. When Jesus walked the earth, he said, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
Then after Jesus was killed, buried, and rose from the dead, his friend Peter stood in front of the teachers of the law and declared, “You can’t be saved by believing in anyone else. God has given people no other name under heaven that will save them.”
Clay was quick to point out that we don’t have to be afraid of dying. He read Hebrews 2:15, where it says Jesus can set people free who are afraid of death.
“Scripture confirms that we are in bondage to a fear of dying,” Clay said. “Jesus came to rescue people. If people don’t follow Jesus, who’s going to free them of that dread? They’ve got to somehow find a way to free themselves—and that leads to all kinds of problems.”
The Bible says after followers of Christ pass from this world, they rejoice in God’s presence. Heaven is a wondrous world of adventure, excitement, and exploration.
Clay had made it clear that death is inevitable. We can’t deny that it’ll happen to us. Wishful thinking that science can defeat death doesn’t work. Our empty efforts to somehow achieve eternal life apart from God always fail.
It was time to end my conversation with Clay and search for further evidence that our death in this world can be an actual gateway to a more fabulous forever existence. Clay had pointed out that the fear of death motivates many of our actions. Was that a good thing or bad thing? And is death something to be feared at all?
To find answers, I needed to visit an old friend. And that meant jumping on a plane and flying up the Pacific Coast to Portland, Oregon.