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Man Commits His Soul to Nature at Death

We live in a time when people have become extremely conscious of nature, its beauty, its wonders, its indescribable value. We appreciate our planet more than we did before. We realize that in a very real sense, the earth gives us physical life. It's not surprising, then, that some people take this truth one step further and regard the planet as somehow giving them inner life as well.

This worldview is reflected in one sad news story that appeared early in 2009. The story called attention to an increase in the number of suicides that occurred in U.S. national parks in 2008. The article cited several examples of people who had committed suicide that year in a national park, including a 65-year-old university biology professor who "disappeared into Utah's Canyonlands National Park, telling relatives in a note he was returning 'body and soul to nature.'"

The idea of returning the body to the earth has a long Christian history. Dust to dust. Notice, however, that this man also viewed his death as a way of returning his soul to nature, as though nature had somehow given him a soul in the beginning and at death his soul would be reunited with nature.

How different a worldview this is from that expressed by Jesus, who as he neared his death on the cross said, "Father, into your hands I commit my spirit."

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