You think you know how to define ‘Life’? Well, go ahead, give it a shot, and then compare it with this blog post.
Trying to define life isn’t easy. This blog post is late in being published because I’ve been struggling with it.
The subject is LIFE in general and Human Life in particular and I’d been reading, thinking of what I was going to write about and finally settled on ‘carbon’ and organic molecules and how carbon is the basis of life, etc. and I was almost finished, just about ready to publish and I said to myself, ‘wait a minute, is this what life is all about? Is this what The Explanation and the Inventory of the Universe is really focused on?’, and I put it aside! That doesn’t mean that I won’t publish it in the future, I will.
But, it just happens that in preparation for this blog I listened to a presentation by a professor emeritus about some of the basic principles of science and one of the main lessons is: What is Life?
The lesson lasted about half an hour and I was waiting, literally, waiting for that definition! That answer to what is life. I was eager for him to define life.
It never came.
Maybe it’ll come in a future lesson, I’ll let you know, but the lecturer went into Vitalism, chemical composition, water, carbon… she explained the complexity, the processes needed for life which I exposed in a previous post… but nothing answered the question!
I want to give you an inkling of an answer in spite of its depth. One of the reasons being we’re hearing of scientists who have ‘created or generated life.’ But is it really ‘life?’ I’m not going to go into the details of such experiments but my answer would be that that they’ve certainly put together something that is living. But is this what Life, with a capital ‘L’, really is?
Here’s how I’d define or describe life, be it plant, animal or human life:
One point to keep in mind is that life comes from INorganic matter, the inanimate elements of the earth, those chemicals we find in the Periodic Table. Each of those approximate 100 elements, by itself, and even by mixing two or more together in any way shape or form, you will not get something living. There is absolutely no life whatsoever, no breathing, nothing that is an organ or possesses internal organs or can do anything whatsoever. You can get some acids and other compounds and even some amino acids have been obtained… but that is not life.
True, in the laboratory, scientists have taken parts of living organisms, they’ve even synthesized certain DNA molecules and mixed and matched extracted and implanted to come up with a ‘living entity.’ This has been done with bacteria… and the end result is that these scientists have gotten the bacteria to ‘beat’ like in a ‘heart beat.’ Under such circumstances we could say this organism ‘is living’… but it didn’t last… so life is much more than bringing elements together and having them ‘beat the right beat.’
This has nothing to do with their tremendous biological breakthrough and exploit.
An integral part of something called ‘life’ is that is has to have the capacity to sustain itself.
The Ability to be able to Continue to Live
It needs a system to gather ‘elements’ which will be used internally, let’s say by some sort of combustion or digestion not only to keep itself running but also producing extra energy in order to accomplish something externally.
Let’s put it this way, if you have a ‘living thing’ just ‘lounging there on the sofa’, that’s not living, that is surviving, if that’s it, there’s no use and purpose. There has to be a way for this living organism to produce enough energy to do something… we could talk about ‘what’ that ‘something’ that the organism should accomplish might be, it’s an important factor, but we’re not going to discuss that in this post.
Now we’re only talking about what the biological definition of life is. So, if it’s just ‘lying on the sofa’ ok, I agree it’s alive but is it living? Therein lies another question.
Life is inanimate elements that have come together in such a way as to become a living organism that can not only sustain itself, but has extra energy to perform a function.
And that is only the beginning of ‘Life’. Stay tuned for additional essential characteristics to determine what ‘Life’ really is. Sign up in the right column for notification of the next post and a FREE full length book: ‘Inventory of the Universe’. No obligations and you can unsubscribe anytime.
By the way, I’d be interested in reading how you define life in the comments below.
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