Death is a term that is used to describe the permanent ending of life. Since life is manifested by complexity we may ask whether “death” is applicable also to other complex processes. First we ought to realize that most if not all complex systems are actually complex processes. Complexity is not created as such, it evolves from less complex conditions.
Some complex processes never die, e.g. the weather, which exists as long as our earth does. The weather does not die it only mutates. Today’s weather is not sensitive to initial conditions. It is an ongoing process and obviously lacks initial conditions. For the same reason it is immune to butterfly effects. The same applies to life as such which appeared on earth eons ago and will never die. It is organized as a super-organism, called Gaia which encompasses all life processes.
Apparently other complex processes, e.g. economy, stock market or even the internet will exist as long as we will. They will not die, only mutate. We may thus generalize and assume that processes which depend on life will hardly ever die. How come that the human, the hallmark of life actually dies? The definition of death depends on our viewpoint. Whether we regard man as an isolated process, which started during fertilization, or as a part in a more general process known as food chain. It is defined as: A succession of organisms in an ecological community that constitutes a continuation of food energy from one organism to another as each consumes a lower member and in turn is preyed upon by a higher member. (Answers.com). Gaia may be regarded as a web of food chains.
Plants serve as food chain origins. They apply sun energy to polymerize simple inorganic molecules, e.g. water and carbon dioxide. All other members in the food chain are incapable of polymerizing inorganic molecules. They require simple organic molecules like sugars or amino acids. Complexity evolves by polymerization of simple organic molecules. When a member of the food chain dies, its complexity is degraded to simple complex building blocks which serve as initial conditions (primers) for the complexity generation of the next member (process) in the chain. Death of a chain member is far from being an annihilation, it is a mutation (change).
The human destiny is expressed by Rabbi Akavya Ben Mahalel: "Reflect upon three things and you will never come to sin: Know from where you came, to where you are going, and before whom you are destined to give an accounting.
" 'From where you came' - From a putrid drop;
'To where you are going' - To a place of dirt, maggots, and worms; 'And before whom
you are destined to give an accounting' - Before the King of Kings, The Holy
One, Blessed Be He."
The putrid drop initiates a process known as a human being . When his time has come he mutates into a different process. From the Gaia perspective the place of dirt, maggots, and worms is a process in the food chain which takes care of the dead individual and prepares his remnants as primers for the next chain member. Death is actually a process mutation. Not “dust to dust, or ashes to ashes”, which are essentially inorganic and cannot serve as primers for life. Maggots, worms, microbes and fungi, keep the food chain ticking.
More on this in a Hebrew poem