I read an article on SciAm on how life is actually non-sense, that the reason people struggle to find a consistent reliable definition of life is because life doesn’t exist. The article is here: http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/brainwaves/2013/12/02/why-life-does-not-really-exist/
A quote from the article: “There is no threshold at which a collection of atoms suddenly becomes alive, no categorical distinction between the living and inanimate, no Frankensteinian spark. We have failed to define life because there was never anything to define in the first place.”
I find the above conclusion somewhat fraught. It looks at 2 phenomenon: life & the fact that life and non-life items share the same base components, and make a conclusion based on 1 direction of correlation; which is: since atoms makes life and non-life, then there’s no difference between life & non-life, thus such distinction is fictional.
Yet it could have easily see the 2 phenomenon, and instead conclude this: since life exist, and yet the same atoms make life and non-life, then there’s a factor that differentiates life and non-life.
Here’s my take on the definition on life and non-life
I posit that there’s a factor that differentiates life and non-life.
Life cares about its continued existence, through homeostasis, reproduction, and evolution.
One question about evolution that’s rarely asked is: why should genes care? Why should gene care whether they exist or not? Why should genes care enough to evolve?
Everything in universe, if left as it is, has a tendency towards degradation, the slow decline to continually lower energy states. The existence of matter and concentration of energy itself shows the existence of vacuum. Vacuum demanding equilibrium, achieve through decline of the non-vacuum.
Why should life be different? Why should genes, be any different? Why should genes has motive when everything else in universe, except vacuum, has no motive?
Rock has no motive. It doesn’t try to achieve homeostasis, or to reproduce, or to evolve. Rocks formed, then energy exerts its forces to rock through lava eruption, tectonic movements, erosion, meteoric impact, etc.
Water has no motive, hydrogen has no motive, oxygen has no motive, stars has no motive, matter has no motive, energy has no motive. Everything in universe has no motive. Vacuum has motive. Motive to degrade concentration of matter & energy, degrade non-vacuum.
And life, life has motive.
Whatever shape of life. They all have motive.
So i think, the distinction between life and non-life is the existence of motive, the motive to exist.
Side note: So we see, 2 great motives in Universe, the motive of vacuum to degrade existence, and the motive of life to exist and enlightened its existence.
Enlightened? Yes, enlightened.
Why should genes care so much about increasing it’s cognitive ability to a point where it achieve beings that can understand the universe where it exist?
Genes could have care about existence without being enlightened. It could have evolve laterally in terms of intelligence. Genes could have stopped at bacteria and survive as bacteria. Genes could have stopped at cockroaches and survive as cockroaches.
Why should gene creates mammals? an inefficient being in terms of survivability compared to cockroaches, yet mammals has higher intelligence. Why should gene care about increasing intelligence vs. survivability? If genes is blindly following its efficient survivability script, it doesn’t need to be mammals.
Why should genes create human? an even worse species in terms of survivability, far worse than even it’s closest cousin, the primates, yet much more intelligent. Human reproduce babies that needs thousands of days before it can find its own food, it’s a very bad way to ensure the passing of gene. And the only redeeming feature of human is its intelligence. Again genes attain intelligence at the expense of survivability.
Why? Why should genes do this? An accident? Of what? If we believe that the motive of the selfish gene is to survive, then it does need to evolve, but it doesn’t have to evolve to mammals, or humans, which as stated above, very poor candidate for sustaining genes. Genes could stop multitudes of species that could have exist and much efficient at survival than human beings or mammals, yet genes continue to be mammals, to be human, why?
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