1. What is life? The Definition

As some of you already know, or suspect, I have decided to “return” to publishing OPs at TSZ. There are many reasons for that but mainly to save TSZ from what many blogs like this one suffered; the inevitable death. So, let’s see and hope that my take on old ideas can help to revitalize TSZ again… I have new ideas too…

I’m beginning with the most fundamental subject to most on both sides – LIFE.

Unfortunately, it didn’t take me long to get stuck on the issue, because there is no definition of life that most scientists would agree upon. So, to start us off with the series of OPs on life, we need to have a definition of life that most would agree on…

What is the definition of life?

So, welcome back everybody! J-mac is back in the house…
Let’s get this show rolling!
Remember to have fun…

197 Replies to “1. What is life? The Definition”

  1. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:

    Great. How is it that these magnificent components [atoms] were originated without design?

    How did they originate with design?

    The answer: you have no idea.

    You do this again and again, Bill. You present an argument (such as the “frog at the bottom of a well” argument) not realizing that if it were valid, it would be fatal to your own position.

  2. Richardthughes Richardthughes
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    says:

    …. and that’s how J-Mac saved TSZ 🤣

  3. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Richardthughes: …. and that’s how J-Mac saved TSZ

    Be patient! I have many ideas for other OPs…

    I’m just starting with the fundamentals…
    I’m not even sure if there is a restriction on how many OPs I can publish…

    How about OPs on quantum mutations, near-death-experiences, afterlife, vitality, timelessness on quantum level, infinite number of dimensions and eternity, what does God look like? What’s the purpose of life? Why natural process developed death? etc..
    Which one do you like?

  4. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    J_Mac,

    I’m not even sure if there is a restriction on how many OPs I can publish…

    There might have been, if Alan and Neil hadn’t blown it by going with the censorship scheme instead.

    By the way, did your OP appear immediately after you published it, or did one of the moderators have to approve it first?

  5. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac, to Rich:

    How about OPs on quantum mutations, near-death-experiences, afterlife, vitality, timelessness on quantum level, infinite number of dimensions and eternity, what does God look like? What’s the purpose of life? Why natural process developed death? etc..
    Which one do you like?

    How about one on “Why J-Mac’s flounces never stick”?

  6. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    Next will be an examination of the groundbreaking “what is love?”, (Nestor Alexander Haddaway et al, 1993)

  7. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Be patient! I have many ideas for other OPs…

    I’m just starting with the fundamentals…
    I’m not even sure if there is a restriction on how many OPs I can publish…

    How about OPs on quantum mutations, near-death-experiences, afterlife, vitality, timelessness on quantum level, infinite number of dimensions and eternity, what does God look like? What’s the purpose of life? Why natural process developed death? etc..
    Which one do you like?

    These are all monumentally retarded, btw.

  8. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Richardthughes: These are all monumentally retarded, btw.

    It’s a free world … you can get lots and not read them… and stop wasting others time… bye-bye stupidisimo!

  9. Flint
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: How about OPs on quantum mutations

    What are these?

    near-death-experiences

    As I understand it, these are mostly explained by oxygen deprivation

    afterlife

    There appears to be no valid evidence for this.

    vitality

    What meaning do you intend by this?

    timelessness on quantum level

    Probably an artifact of mathematical simplification

    infinite number of dimensions and eternity

    Well, Gardner wrote a whole book about “nothing”

    what does God look like?

    “What do you see when you turn out the lights? I can’t tell you, but I know it’s mine.”

    What’s the purpose of life?

    We each determine our own

    Why natural process developed death?

    I suggest that if organisms do not die, they cannot evolve — and will soon lose the arms race to those that DO evolve, and soon get eaten.

  10. Joe Felsenstein Joe Felsenstein
    Ignored
    says:

    Richardthughes:
    Next will be an examination of the groundbreaking “what is love?”, (Nestor Alexander Haddaway et al, 1993)

    How about “Why do fools fa-all in love …?”

  11. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    Joe Felsenstein: How about “Why do fools fa-all in love …?”

    I think J-Mac does requests.

  12. Richardthughes Richardthughes
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: It’s a free world … you can get lots and not read them… and stop wasting others time… bye-bye stupidisimo!

    Joe Felsenstein: How about “Why do fools fa-all in love …?”

    I think J-Mac does requests.

    Is ithe world free though?

  13. dazz dazz
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac: Be patient! I have many ideas for other OPs…

    I’m just starting with the fundamentals…
    I’m not even sure if there is a restriction on how many OPs I can publish…

    How about OPs on quantum mutations, near-death-experiences, afterlife, vitality, timelessness on quantum level, infinite number of dimensions and eternity, what does God look like? What’s the purpose of life? Why natural process developed death? etc..
    Which one do you like?

    For truly mysterious stuff I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

  14. J-Mac
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    says:

    Joe Felsenstein: How about “Why do fools fa-all in love …?”

    So, why did you fall in love with the speculative population genetics? I heard you are more of “indoor cat”… not much into experimental science…

    Well, its easy too … fitness this… fitness that… no evidence required…

    If you ever have done mutagenesis experimental work, you’d notice a simple fact that mutations produce same or similar phenotypes… no new species were ever produced that could survive outside of the lab…

    Mutagenesis experiments produce same organism, defective one or dead one….
    Your fitness speculative nonsense is not going to change these very facts, unless of course you can do some experiments and prove otherwise…

    We both know you are not going to do that because, like you said it yourself, for 58 you have been speculating about life without a definition of life…
    Why start experiments without a clear definition of species and burn yourself and your lifelong career in speculative nonsense?

    Here is some food for thought for not so blind…

    http://www.weloennig.de/Loennig-Long-Version-of-Law-of-Recurrent-Variation.pdf

  15. keiths keiths
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    says:

    dazz, to J-Mac:

    For truly mysterious stuff I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

    I’ve got one. Do an OP telling us about your “research”, J-Mac:

    The beauty of my research has been that I have traveled to most distant and isolated places in the world… While it wasn’t a part of my research, I have found it very amusing that none of the isolated tribes and national groups I have ever come across were atheistic…. None. Zero.

  16. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz: For truly mysterious stuff I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

    Isn’t that a tad presumptuous?

    Glen Davidson

  17. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz:

    For truly mysterious stuff I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

    Glen:

    Isn’t that a tad presumptuous?

    Heh.

  18. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    OMagain to colewd: Human brains evolved

    And they evolved to a greater degree than human spinal cords. I have been informed here that brains think, but no one has stated that spinal cords think.

  19. Entropy Entropy
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    says:

    J-Mac: Since you seem to understand the energy flow, why can’t you use this understanding to recreate simple cell ?

    Because understanding energy flow is not sufficient to recreate a simple cell. When you understand the most basic about thermodynamics, you know that energy flow is what makes work possible. That doesn’t mean that you can build whatever you want with that knowledge. It just means that in your attempts to do so, you’ll need to take into account that for the thing to perform work, there must be energy flow.

    Are you sure you understand the most basic kinder-garden stuff? This should be obvious for anybody who’s taken kinder-garden physics.

    J-Mac: Or why don’t you tell Shostak how to use the energy flow to create life?

    I think that Jack knows that basic stuff very well. I’ve read his articles, and none suggests otherwise.

    J-Mac: Let’s listen to the materialistic excuses now how the earth conditions are not right now to create life…

    They aren’t? It’s happening all the time all around us. What on Earth are you talking about?

    J-Mac: And yet they are surprisingly ideal to sustain a trillion species…

    Surprisingly? I see energy flowing all around us all the time. There’s a constant input of enormous amounts of usable energy from the sun alone. Why should we be surprised that it can sustain a trillion species?

    J-Mac: A story like that gotta be true 😉

    It looks more like you have severe conceptual problems. I doubt I can help you out though. Your absurd claims, written with that air of superiority, point to your mind being very hard to reach.

  20. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Sure. That means that metaphors have limits.

    No it means that just because something operates within the laws of physics and chemistry does not preclude the fact that there are thinking processes at the base of its existence.

  21. CharlieM CharlieM
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    says:

    GlenDavidson:

    CharlieM: There is nothing wrong with going into great detail about biochemistry, it’s an important aspect of life.

    And so different from the way you misrepresented what Moran wrote.

    Please explain my misrepresentation.

    They cannot be properly explained without the minds that brought them about.

    Same with arrowheads. Do you have a meaningful point?

    Well yes. Arrows like robots are the product of thinking minds.

    And can you explain in chemical terms how you came to that opinion?

    And can you explain in gravitational terms how you came up with such a disingenuous question?

    I don’t need to because I do not believe that gravity is the root cause of my question. Of course it is possible that you do not believe physics and chemistry to be the root cause of your thinking processes.

    Steiner was a scientst

    Ha ha ha ha!

    Laughter is the best medicine

  22. J-Mac
    Ignored
    says:

    Here is where my recent research got stuck:
    On the chicken and eggs paradoxes that supposed to have been resolved by sheer dumb luck before the natural processes formed the first cell…

    Can one of the intelligent materialists here help me to resolve these issue?

    The inter-dependency of cell components ATP, DNA, Proteins, Enzymes which require to be engulfed by a cell membrane to even budge…

    Please tell me you didn’t put your faith in sheer dumb luck without one piece of evidence…

    Do I have to publish a separate OP on this issue for someone to provide at least one piece of evidence how sheer dumb luck did it?

    I mean, the avoidance is not going to do it…

    It’s your faith for Darwins sake!!!

    One piece of evidence…please…

    You are not deceiving yourselves, right? It’s not blind faith, is it?
    What evidence convinced you the most how sheer dumb luck resolved the chicken and egg paradoxes???
    No evidence? How is this possible? How is this science? Is it just a so story to fill the void? Is it a fairy tale? Kids are laughing at you… Come on! One piece of evidence… Don’t make fools of yourselves though… lol

  23. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: No it means that just because something operates within the laws of physics and chemistry does not preclude the fact that there are thinking processes at the base of its existence.

    Your intentions were clear. you were not talking about precluding, but about including for the sake of the metaphor.

  24. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    J-Mac,

    See? Your mind cannot be reached. I gave you pointers to avoid your conceptual mistakes, yet there you are, right where you began. Your deep misconceptions, mixed with your arrogance, blind your understanding.

  25. Corneel Corneel
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Your deep misconceptions, mixed with your arrogance, blind your understanding.

    Yes, but his sense of humor makes up for it.

  26. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    dazz to J-Mac: For truly mysterious stuff I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

    Your sarcastic comment is not such a bad idea. Have you ever thought about the actual processes and coordination required for us to be able to tie our shoelaces.

  27. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy to J-Mac: Are you sure you understand the most basic kinder-garden stuff?

    J-Mac, just so you understand, I presume that Entropy is talking about the juvenile comments such as the following which belong in the kindergarten:

    dazz: I’d suggest a thread on how you manage to tie your shoelaces

    GlenDavidson: Isn’t that a tad presumptuous?

    Glen Davidson

    keiths: Heh.

  28. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Your intentions were clear. you were not talking about precluding, but about including for the sake of the metaphor.

    You wrote

    A robot obeys the standard laws of physics and chemistry. No need to look further for an explanation of robots.

    This is what I was arguing against. By your reasoning above robots can be explained without reference to the people who designed and built them.

    I would suggest that if you attempt to explain robots without this reference, your explanation will be missing some vital elements and will be totally inadequate.

  29. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: J-Mac, just so you understand, I presume that Entropy is talking about the juvenile comments such as the following which belong in the kindergarten:

    See how well Charlie gets things?

    He has no problem with bizarrely idiotic junk from J-Mac, probably due to the quality of his own output. Crank magnetism.

    Glen Davidson

  30. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: See how well Charlie gets things?

    He has no problem with bizarrely idiotic junk from J-Mac, probably due to the quality of his own output.Crank magnetism.

    Glen Davidson

    Now you are throwing insults because you feel that I have insulted you for adding your own insult to an insulting comment that Dazz wrote. And so the insults continue. I don’t envy the moderators, they are fighting a losing battle.

  31. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: J-Mac, just so you understand, I presume that Entropy is talking about the juvenile comments such as the following which belong in the kindergarten:

    Come on Charlie, what I meant is right in the comment I addressed to J-Mac. Don’t twist my words. Otherwise you just misdirect J-Mac’s already atrociously misinformed mind.

  32. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Now you are throwing insults because you feel that I have insulted you for adding your own insult to an insulting comment that Dazz wrote. And so the insults continue. I don’t envy the moderators, they are fighting a losing battle.

    You’re the one who ignores rank idiocy in order to fault those who want to clean it up using a few well-deserved jabs. Because, you deserve the jabs you receive, too, and all you can do is whine about that. Kiddie-gartener.

    As always, you so badly judge everything that matters, and you wish to make room for complete tripe. You’re incapable of recognizing root problems, relying on crankery as you do for your hopes and dreams for a utopian world.

    Glen Davidson

  33. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: You [Entropy] wrote

    A robot obeys the standard laws of physics and chemistry. No need to look further for an explanation of robots.

    Actually, it was you who wrote that. I was quoting you. The block quotes were lost for mysterious reasons, but what I wrote is right below that. Don’t you remember what you write? Your comment is right above mine. How could you miss it?

    CharlieM: This is what I was arguing against. By your reasoning above robots can be explained without reference to the people who designed and built them.

    I never said such a thing. The metaphor was all yours.

    CharlieM: I would suggest that if you attempt to explain robots without this reference, your explanation will be missing some vital elements and will be totally inadequate.

    Your metaphor was meant to make fun of Larry’s stance by implying that Larry thought that there was no need for further investigation. I quoted your metaphor to answer that I doubted that such was Larry’s intention. You ignored that part to come back with that “designer” implication, which shows that metaphors have limits.

    Got it now?

  34. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy,

    I’m not proving your point. I’m just telling you that your dismissal of evidence, like the one you offered just now, is a reflexion of your ignorance, not actual lack of evidence.

    You now say I am dismissing evidence yet you don’t provide any. You are arguing without backing up your claims.

    So, I’m supposed to accept this on your mere assertion, while my telling you that there’s evidence for the evolution of the brain, well, you dismiss it because it’s an assertion. See your double standards yet?

    I am not making a mere assertion I am showing an example of how human design works which as an analogy. Semiconductors are made with specifications and their performance is repeatable just like the atoms that they are made of. Its turtles all the way down and you can find the line of demarkation where human design ends and divine design begins.

    How is it that we should even consider design, other than because you have a belief that you want to feel justified about? You’re engaging into begging the question, yet you complain that others might be doing so? Double standard again.

    Because of the similarity to human design such as specific parameters and repeatability. From this the design inference is made.

    But design would never enter my mind. That would be nonsensical. Design implies designers. All designers I know about are made of atoms. That means that designers are out of the question.

    This is from inductive reasoning from evidence like cells, molecules and atoms. Just because all designers you know about are made of atoms does not mean a designer could not have a different make up we are not aware of. We cannot see gravity but infer it from observation. We are a piece of that evidence given our makeup.

  35. colewd
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths,

    How did they originate with design?

    The answer: you have no idea.

    We have an historical explanation called the bible which gives some idea of whats outside the well.

  36. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Actually, it was you who wrote that. I was quoting you. The block quotes were lost for mysterious reasons, but what I wrote is right below that. Don’t you remember what you write? Your comment is right above mine. How could you miss it?

    I never said such a thing. The metaphor was all yours.

    Your metaphor was meant to make fun of Larry’s stance by implying that Larry thought that there was no need for further investigation. I quoted your metaphor to answer that I doubted that such was Larry’s intention. You ignored that part to come back with that “designer” implication, which shows that metaphors have limits.

    Got it now?

    Yes, your comments got lost in my reply. Here it is (I’ve given it the correct formatting):

    Entropy:

    CharlieM: A robot obeys the standard laws of physics and chemistry. No need to look further for an explanation of robots.

    Why? Understanding that no magic is necessary for life to work doesn’t mean that there’s no need for further study. We still care about how it works in more precise terms. We still care about how we appeared in the scene, the history of life, etc. I doubt that Larry intended to mean that no more studies should be done.

    But you are still missing the point I was making.

    Larry Moran beieves that ‘“life” is just a bunch of chemical reactions.’ and ‘Living things obey the standard laws of physics and chemistry’.

    Well, would he say that robots are just a bunch of chemical reactions? If not why not? Just because something obeys the standard laws of physics and chemistry does not mean that minds are not involved in their coming into existence.

  37. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    colewd:

    You now say I am dismissing evidence yet you don’t provide any.You are arguing without backing up your claims.

    I don’t need to. You know very well that the proposal that human brains evolved has evidence behind it. You know very well that it’s just you and creationist deformation and misinformation that prefer to ignore the evidence. The point was your double standard. We could talk about that evidence once you understand the point.

    colewd:
    I am not making a mere assertion I am showing an example of how human design works which as an analogy. Semiconductors are made with specifications and their performance is repeatable just like the atoms that they are made of. Its turtles all the way down and you can find the line of demarkation where human design ends and divine design begins.

    Analogies are not evidence. Your final phrase shows that you’re really begging the question. You have “divine design” right there in your premises.

    colewd:
    Because of the similarity to human design such as specific parameters and repeatability. From this the design inference is made.

    But such specific parameters and repeatability would not be possible unless atoms had “specific parameters” and “repeatability” themselves. The intelligence necessary for human design also requires the atom’s “specific parameters” and “repeatability” themselves. So you’re putting the cart-before-the-horse.

    colewd:
    This is from inductive reasoning from evidence like cells, molecules and atoms.

    Which are all natural. If this was inductive reasoning, the conclusion would be that atomic properties are natural, not that they were designed. Designed from what? Wouldn’t those components have to have “specific parameters” and “repeatability” themselves in order for them to be appropriate components for those atoms so that the atoms had “specific parameters” and “repeatability”?

    colewd:
    Just because all designers you know about are made of atoms does not mean a designer could not have a different make up we are not aware of.

    But induction demands that you use your examples properly. If your examples are intelligences made of atoms, we should expect the same from induced designers. But let’s go one step further, since designers require components that have “specific parameters” and “repeatability,”just to have the ability to design, then you didn’t solve anything. The requirement carries on, and your proposal is an attempt to move things many steps further in the chain, only to end at the same place: some basic stuff that has “specific parameters” and “repeatability.”

    It is therefore safe to infer that you’re working towards a preconceived conclusion. That some magical being made these atoms. But if you worked those inferences and inductions properly, you’d never get there. You’re begging the question big time by dispensing of information contained in your very examples, when such information is inconvenient to reach your conclusion.

    So, your supposed inductive reasoning grew from mere assertion to begging the question by hiding it behind some pretty poor philosophy.

  38. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: Just because something obeys the standard laws of physics and chemistry does not mean that minds are not involved in their coming into existence.

    Just because something “obeys” the standard laws of physics and chemistry doesn’t mean that minds are involved in their coming into existence. So?

  39. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Charlie,

    You seem to have completely missed the point that Larry was making, which had nothing to do with origins. He was arguing against vitalism:

    First, it emphasizes the point that “life” is just a bunch of chemical reactions. As we say in the textbooks, “Living things obey the standard laws of physics and chemistry. No “vitalistic” force is required to explain life at the molecular level.

  40. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Just because something “obeys” the standard laws of physics and chemistry doesn’t mean that minds are involved in their coming into existence. So?

    So, we cannot just begin from the assumption that either one of these positions is correct. By saying that ‘“life” is just a bunch of chemical reactions’, Larry Moran is making that assumption.

  41. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM:

    So, we cannot just begin from the assumption that either one of these positions is correct. By saying that ‘“life” is just a bunch of chemical reactions’, Larry Moran is making that assumption.

    How so? “Life is just a bunch of chemical reactions” is no less compatible with creationism than it is with ateleological OOL.

  42. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    Charlie,

    You seem to have completely missed the point that Larry was making, which had nothing to do with origins.He was arguing against vitalism:

    It is precisely because he does not know how life began that he cannot make the claim that he does.

  43. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    Charlie,

    You’re misunderstanding a very basic point. How life began and how life operates are two separate questions.

  44. Entropy Entropy
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: So, we cannot just begin from the assumption that either one of these positions is correct.

    Of course we can. The proposal that minds were involved requires a philosophical travesty of huge proportions.

  45. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    Charlie,

    You’re misunderstanding a very basic point.How life began and how life operates are two separate questions.

    Two questions about one unified concept, ‘life’. And how life begins and how life operates are only separate for limited human understanding, not for reality.

  46. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    Entropy: Of course we can. The proposal that minds were involved requires a philosophical travesty of huge proportions.

    Only for those who are trapped in one particular narrow world view.

  47. GlenDavidson
    Ignored
    says:

    CharlieM: So, we cannot just begin from the assumption that either one of these positions is correct. By saying that ‘“life” is just a bunch of chemical reactions’, Larry Moran is making that assumption.

    So the fact that one has evidence for its ubiquity and the other lacks any definitive evidence for playing any role in life at all doesn’t mean anything to you?

    But that’s not novel, we already knew that you’re essentially impervious to evidence.

    Glen Davidson

  48. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:
    CharlieM:

    How so?“Life is just a bunch of chemical reactions” is no less compatible with creationism than it is with ateleological OOL.

    It’s not a question of compatibility, it’s a question of making unjustified assumptions.

  49. keiths keiths
    Ignored
    says:

    keiths:

    You’re misunderstanding a very basic point.How life began and how life operates are two separate questions.

    CharlieM:

    Two questions about one unified concept, ‘life’.

    Two separate and orthogonal questions about life.

    All four combinations are logically possible:

    1. Life was created and is more than just physics and chemistry.
    2. Life was created and is just physics and chemistry.
    3. Life originated ateleologically and is more than just physics and chemistry.
    4. Life originated ateleologically and is just physics and chemistry.

    You’re conflating two separate questions, Charlie.

  50. CharlieM CharlieM
    Ignored
    says:

    GlenDavidson: So the fact that one has evidence for its ubiquity and the other lacks any definitive evidence for playing any role in life at all doesn’t mean anything to you?

    But that’s not novel, we already knew that you’re essentially impervious to evidence.

    Glen Davidson

    The only ubiquity is that chemical reactions have a significant role in the processes of life. But these also have a significant role in many lab experiments. We cannot infer from this that life, or a lab experiment, is just chemical reactions.

    Can you explain the creativity of the human mind in terms of chemical reactions?

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