The Mystery of Life

Discussion in 'Religion and Ethics' started by -Cp, Sep 19, 2008.

  1. -Cp
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    -Cp Senior Member

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    One of creation’s wonders is so commonplace that we don’t notice it. Yet it’s more marvelous than all the others . . . life. What mysterious quality makes a creature alive at one moment but is absent the instant the creature dies?

    Plants Are Not Alive?
    Most scientists would agree that any life in plants is of a different order than that in animals. If we saw a dead tree in a forest, we wouldn’t be repulsed—we might even sit on the stump! Most of us, however, would not consider sitting on a dead animal. Similarly, we are happy to place dead flowers in a vase, but most homes would not display dead mice.

    No matter how much scientists learn about the complexities of organisms, they have not touched the more difficult questions—what is life itself, and where did it come from?

    Have you ever thought about what life actually is? What mysterious quality makes a creature alive at one moment but is absent the instant the creature dies? A baby’s body, no longer breathing after it has just died, contains the same DNA, the same heart and body, and the same mass as it did only moments earlier. So what is missing?

    An entry in Wikipedia admits, “There is no universal definition of life; there are a variety of definitions proposed by different scientists.” The latest Encyclopedia Britannica agrees: “There is no generally accepted definition of life.” Nevertheless, the encyclopedia’s online version attempts a clunky definition with lots of complex scientific terms:

    A biochemical or molecular biological definition sees living organisms as systems that contain reproducible hereditary information coded in nucleic acid molecules and that metabolize by controlling the rate of chemical reactions using proteinaceous catalysts known as enzymes.

    Such definitions don’t actually state what life is, merely what we see in living things. For instance, the biologist and philosopher Harold J. Morowitz comments that living things have one thing in common—cells: “The only life we know for certain is cellular.”1

    The teaching guidelines for British textbooks suggest that students ages 11 to 14 learn that life is anything that displays seven qualities, summarized in the cute mnemonic MRS. GREN. That is, living objects have Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition. These properties are typical of cellular life, but they still don’t say what life actually is.

    To help us understand the problem with defining life, a cell can be compared to a powerful computer—a highly sophisticated system that stores and processes information. There is more to a working computer than its physical parts—it needs a designer, a programmer, and an engineer to build its parts. Then it needs a source of power and an operator to turn it on.

    Advanced as computer technology may become, a living thing is still leaps beyond. Despite its complexity, the computer is not alive. Consider a house fly buzzing about an office on a blistering day. If the power shuts down, the computer “dies,” but it can be rebooted after the power is restored. Not so with the fly.

    The Hebrew word used for the quality of having life is nephesh. Leviticus 17:11 shows us that this life is related to having blood: “For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.”

    The word nephesh is translated in this particular verse as life, but also as soul. Yet, although the life is in the blood, this verse does not tell us what life actually is.

    The sort of life described in the Bible is not physical. While life clearly produces physical results that we can observe, that quality called “life” is something intangible.

    No matter how much scientists discover about the physical systems in organisms and their possible origin, they still have no clue about the infinitely more difficult question of where life came from. If you could make a baby from scratch, with all its physical parts in place, you still would not have a living human.

    The Bible gives us the answer. Life is a gift from God, a blessing from the Creator Himself. By God’s command, not physical accident, it is granted or removed.

    Even if we do not understand what life is, all humans can “see” it all around them. They also know in their hearts that the Life-Giver makes all this life possible. God uses even the mysteries of His creation to make Himself known!
     
  2. ABikerSailor
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    ABikerSailor Platinum Member

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    I'll give you an even simpler definition of what constitutes life, as well as back it up with Torah.....

    Life starts at the point where there is electricity in the organism, leading to MRS. GREN. With the second part, there will be no question about computers living or not.

    By the way, since you seem to know a bit about Jewish theology, here's where the backup is......

    The yetzer harrah is the animal nature, and it travels through the body via the blood. The yetzer hartov is the God nature, and, since God is light, and electricity is light also, it travels via the nervous system as electricity. It's also that small little piece of God that He gave us when we were created, by carving off a small slice of Himself via the blade of self-will.

    Whadda ya think?
     
  3. Diuretic
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    Diuretic Permanently confused

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    I'm sorry Cp but what was the point of your post? I don't mean to sound mean-spirited but the piece went on about life and then went for the old cliche at the end. I think it's a wank piece actually, not much value in it at all.
     

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