(Cover Image & Source: Leaf Cutting Art by Omid Asadi @ Manchester Evening News)

…What is life?

What defines it?

How it is formed?

All of these questions were the biggest puzzles for all the greatest philosophers, biologists, theologians, esoterics; and in general for all those who tried to find the answers to these difficult questions since the beginning of time, from the earliest human civilisations.

Even do today we posses high technology and we live in such an advanced technocratic society, we are still searching for the answers that are of high importance for the future of our civilisation.

To try to answer the question what life really is, maybe it would be better to start from the opposite direction, and ask ourselves what life is not. Most of you will now repeat what you have learned from the classes of biology, what are life forms, and what are nonliving things, and what are the differences between them. I had myself gone through that same educational path, and the professors were trying to explain us, the students, all the biological axioms, that say that every life being is the one that has to feed itself, grow and develop, procreate etc. But they didn’t said much about the life itself. As far as the biology as a natural science, it is a very interesting fact that even do biologist of today know so little of the life itself, they dare to call themselves the explorers of life (gr. bios logos – science (precisely word) of life).

In the first classes of biology we have learned that all the life forms can be classified into groups, according to famous 18th century Swedish botanist, physician and zoologist who started all that, Carl Linnaeus, in his binomial nomenclature, to the six kingdoms of which the most important are the two most complex, Plantae and Animalia. We have learned that all the complex living beings are made from cells, and that they have evolved through time and space. But still they said nothing about what life really is.

kingdoms_tree_2000
The Tree of Life

After thinking about this subject by myself, and knowing some aspects in this field of biology and the science in general, I questioned is the term nonliving being really correct. Is there really something that can be nonliving. How can we talk about that something is not alive, when we can’t explain what life really is.

Many of the theorists and futurists have talked about an idea that all the planet Earth is really one big living organism (so called Gaia, the living planet), and others have gone even farther and started to talk about the whole universe as a very complex living organism.

gaia

So, I questioned myself can the ones that we consider nonliving beings or things have the characteristics of living beings, as it is defined in the world of biology. If we looked at it closer, the rocks, seas and the oceans, the ground and the air; in general all the universe has something in common with the basic definitions of life.

All of these things that we consider nonliving are made of atoms and molecules, the building blocks of entire universe. And you all probably know that all the complex molecules are subject to physical and chemical changes and that are made from simpler units called atoms. All these molecular complexes have very complex internal structures. It is also known that all the internal structures of every crystal material is very complex and regular (for exp., one kilo of table salt contains billions of small cubes that represents smaller crystals made in a perfect  structure that we chemists and geologists call face centred cubic system composed of sodium and chlorine ions. These regular shaped internal crystal structures are called cells.

crystals
Why couldn’t this be a special life form?

Haven’t we mentioned cells when we talked about living cells in biology classes, and all the changes that these cells are subjected to?

Well, maybe you could say that in these things I could be right, but what about the consciousness. Living beings have some sort of consciousness, on some level of existence, and nonliving things have no consciousness. That is what scientists say today.  But that is probably also not quite true. We still don’t know what consciousness is and how it is manifested in the world of reality. And as I already mentioned, we like to think that humans posses the highest level of consciousness, then we have animals and plants at the bottom of that line. Even if that is really true, it would mean that even the nonliving things as we call them, should have some level of consciousness, no matter how small it is.

All in all, I think we, as a humanity, are far from giving the right answers to this problems concerning life and what it is or is not. Also, I think that the best way to find the right answers is to unite all the forces, all the scientists, artists, spiritualists and even the everyday people in solving this big and important problem, and using all the possible information and criteria. Only when we start to think in that complex, open-minded and rather interesting way, only then we will be able to fully understand the world we live in.

P.S. All the images in this post are taken from Google Image Search, so they are not my property…