• flannel jesus
    1.3k
    I think there is a difference, but I don't think if you zoomed in on a chemical there's anything you could find that would tell you "this thing is definitely alive". There's no different atomic behavior that you could notice and be like "yup, that atom definitely knows it's inside a living thing". The difference between life and non-life is macroscopic and emergent, and is effectively invisible at the atomic scale.
  • flannel jesus
    1.3k
    I didn't even notice it said that when I posted it. I wasn't intending on bringing that conversation in here, whoops.
  • Patterner
    556

    Hehe. Although Benj brought consciousness into the conversation in the first post, trying to stock to abiogenesis here isn't a bad idea, imo.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    Okay, that is fine with me, my point is, and this is what I take to be the central issue, something living, however you define it, emerges from the combination of atoms, and that is very strange, one might even say, as I have, miraculous.
  • flannel jesus
    1.3k
    I think it's amazing too, I would love to know what the first arrangement of self-replicating molecules actually was and how it formed.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    James Tour has enumerated the known issues that need to be solved for non-living to produce living (in theory although perhaps not in entirety). That is not to say that solving those issues would result in a living organism, or that such problems can even be solved, practically speaking, in a lab.
  • Patterner
    556
    I'd say metabolism and reproduction are key. Complexity and self-organization seem to suggest these things can come about, given the opportunity for enough chances. A billion years might provide that.

    Then we need a body.
    Certain large molecules containing fatty acids—lipids, in the language of chemistry—possess a special property. They automatically self-assemble into a membrane. Their physical nature is to link together into an elastic wall that bends back on itself to create a sphere. You’ve witnessed this process anytime you’ve noticed a bubble emerge from soapy water. Soap bubbles contain molecules similar to those found in the membranes of living organisms—and similar, perhaps, to those in the primeval membranes that originally cordoned off life from not-life, thereby constructing a private room where the story of biology could unfold in fragile safety.

    The establishment of a distinct physical boundary around metabolizing and self-replicating chemical processes inaugurated something marvelous. A body.
    — Ogi Ogas and Sai Gaddam, in Journey of the Mind

    All educated guesses, I suppose. It would be helpful if they could make life in a lab. We can stack the deck any way we want.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    I guess we know Khan's position on consciousness.Patterner

    Perhaps it explains his being so wrathful.
  • Patterner
    556

    Indeed!

    And thank you, once again.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    Indeed!Patterner

    It makes sense. When one wants to believe oneself to be a god, and all of the evidence points to one being a genetically modified primate, there is bound to be some irritability.
  • Patterner
    556

    Far worse is the non-modified primates winning time after time.
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    Does anyone have perspective of it or an alternative theory? I am open to a "natural" explanation for life's origin, I'm just not sure an account can be given in natural terms without any miraculous occurrences.NotAristotle

    A smartphone would seem miraculous to cavemen. If you were to go back in time possessing one I'm sure you would be revered and feared as nothing short of a god. But we know smartphones are not miraculous.

    Abiogenesis seems miraculous indeed even now. Partly due to the hard problem of consciousness which serves to further isolate us from the inanimate chemical world we live in. That's not to say it is of course miraculous any more than a smartphone is.
    We may simply not have the knowledge yet.

    If the system, the entire system, the universe, is self organising in such a way that emergent properties develop based on information exchange, then perhaps panpyschism may not be as absurd as many deem it to be. In this sense the emergence of life is simply the manifestation if how such a system shoukd be organised in order to "experience".
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    What do you believe?Benj96
    I believe in metaphysical naturalism: everything that exists is part of the natural world, and all causes are natural. Our understanding of the natural world is incomplete, and this will probably always be the case. It seems silly to focus on one aspect of the world that is not fully understood and jump to the conclusion naturalism is false.
  • Benj96
    2.2k
    I agree with you - that nothing human made in my mind is "artificial" -somehow removed entirely from natural things.
    Or "unnatural".

    What single thing can natural beings do that is unnatural?

    Which as a slight tangent leads me to think that should we create "artificial intelligence" using the same principles and laws of natural selection and replication in computing as nature has done with biology: then we ought to probably treat it as just an intelligent being.

    I think it's funny how we see the progression of technology as separate from the progression of evolution of living systems, or the organic (up until now ofc).
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    Which as a slight tangent leads me to think that should we create "artificial intelligence" using the same principles and laws of natural selection and replication in computing as nature has done with biology: then we ought to probably treat it as just an intelligent being.Benj96
    What do you mean by "intelligent being"? Why would it matter that we label it such? I grieve when my pets die, but I wouldn't grieve when a machine stopped functioning - even if it exhibited some sort of intelligence.
  • NotAristotle
    252
    Interesting perspective Benj96. So you mean something like, if I had enough knowledge about, say, dark energy, maybe that would fill in the blanks about abiogenesis? I am not so sure. I think someone on the forum said this already, but life seems categorically, discretely, quantumly different than non-life; a difference that does not seem explicable by physical mechanisms, no matter the complexity.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    I think someone on the forum said this already, but life seems categorically, discretely, quantumly different than non-life; a difference that does not seem explicable by physical mechanisms, no matter the complexity.NotAristotle

    Are you someone who is good at understanding complex physical mechanisms?

    Is there some reason to think that the way things seem to you is the result of you being better informed than physicists, chemists, and biologists?
  • NotAristotle
    252
    I do not understand the purpose of your line of questioning. Then again, I am not sure that you do either.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    In a nut shell, the purpose is to investigate whether you can recognize the argument from ignorance you are suggesting.
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    You said life "does not seem explicable by physical mechanisms". That seems unwarranted because every aspect of biological function is consistent with chemistry and physics. That seems to be why some theists focus on abiogenesis, rather than the physical processes of living creatures (albeit that they tend to make arguments from ignorance).
  • NotAristotle
    252
    Go ahead, explain fully what you meant, not just in-a-nutshell.



    Okay, so explain it to me in terms of chemistry and physics, I can wait.
  • wonderer1
    1.7k
    Go ahead, explain fully what you meant, not just in-a-nutshell.NotAristotle

    Go ahead and answer my questions and we can go from there.
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    Okay, so explain it to me in terms of chemistry and physics, I can wait.NotAristotle
    I'm neither a biologist, chemist nor physicist, but everything I've read in these fields is consistent with this statement (from a class on Physics for Biology and Pre-Health-Care Majors):

    "Biology is integrative– Biological phenomena emerge from and must be consistent with the principles of chemistry, physics, and math. " (source)

    This sort of thing is the basis for my belief. You're claiming the above is false, so please show how you justify that belief.
  • AmadeusD
    1.8k
    There is absolutely no evidence the fact of life conforms to those criteria (which are a paradigm, and not infallible). NA is trying to work with those facts, best I can tell.

    I agree. Pretending that everything will eventually fit a certain, current, descriptive paradigm probably isn't a good idea. THe emergence of Life is inexplicable in terms of what we know about physical systems. That does not mean it wont fit into that framework either. But currently, is not explained by it.

    Yes?
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    There is no evidence of anything in the world that does NOT behave consistently with physics, so why should we assume otherwise?

    I am a metaphysical naturalist because it's clear the natural world exists, and that its behavior is a entirely a consequence of laws of nature (approximated by physics). So I'd be very interested in hearing of something that disconfirms this.
  • AmadeusD
    1.8k
    I don't think you really read what I wrote, beyond that its not accepting your conclusions.

    I would just say, please re-read it, noting quite clearly this line:

    That does not mean it wont fit into that framework either. But currently, is not explained by it.AmadeusD

    This is hte point. This is true. And this is why we're talking about it. The emergence of life is mysterious. So we explore :) It's one of hte only things we cannot yet explain under that paradigm. That is interesting in itself, even if it proves merely a longer run-up.
  • Patterner
    556
    I agree with you - that nothing human made in my mind is "artificial" -somehow removed entirely from natural things.
    Or "unnatural".

    What single thing can natural beings do that is unnatural?
    Benj96
    Why do we have the words "natural" and "unnatural"? We know what we mean. If we discover a cave deep underground that we don't think anyone could have been in, or land on another planet, or look at an asteroid field through a telescope, there are any number of things we could see that would tell us an intelligence had been at work, and had intentionally made something with an end product in mind. Without intent, the laws of physics don't lead to all things. Terrence Deacon put it this way in Incomplete Nature: How Mind Emerged from Matter when taking about the things that motivated a boy on the beach to skip a stone across the water:
    In contrast, prior to the evolution of humans, the probability that any stone on any beach on Earth might exhibit this behavior was astronomically minute. This difference exemplifies a wide chasm separating the domains in which two almost diametrically opposed modes of causality rule—two worlds that are nevertheless united in the hurtling of this small spinning projectile. — Deacon
    Then, after mentioning some of the things that had to be done to manufacture his computer:
    No non-cognitive spontaneous physical process anywhere in the universe could have produced such a vastly improbable combination of materials, much less millions of nearly identical replicas in just a few short years of one another. These sorts of commonplace human examples typify the radical discontinuity separating the physics of the spontaneously probable from the deviant probabilities that organisms and minds introduce into the world. — Deacon
  • Relativist
    2.1k
    I did read the post in its entirety, and I still don't understand what you were agreeing with, when you said "I agree." You followed that assertion with:

    "Pretending that everything will eventually fit a certain, current, descriptive paradigm probably isn't a good idea."

    I'm merely explaining that I'm a naturalist, not defending any particular scientific paradigm.

    That does not mean it wont fit into that framework either. But currently, is not explained by it. — AmadeusD


    This is hte point. This is true. And this is why we're talking about it. The emergence of life is mysterious. So we explore :) It's one of hte only things we cannot yet explain under that paradigm. That is interesting in itself, even if it proves merely a longer run-up.
    AmadeusD

    It is indeed a scientific puzzle, and it's being investigated. The investigators obviously believe there's a natural origin. But their belief shouldn't persuade anyone. A theist's belief that God created life isn't threatened by the beliefs of these scientists, nor should those scientists belief in natural causes be threatened by the theist's belief. Metaphysically, it's moot: the existence of life is consistent with both naturalism and theism (or any other metaphysical system I can think of). The fact that we don't understand life's origin doesn't tip the scales in either direction. Do you agree or disagree with this?
  • AmadeusD
    1.8k
    On this clarification, I am in the boat and paddling hard alongside you :)
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