The definition of life

Essay by chrisdupuyCollege, UndergraduateA, January 2007

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Life is among one of the most difficult terms to define, as it seems to have some kind of intangible, improvable element to it that defies reason and science. Life is by which all things in the universe are defined by.

There are some things which are alive, and some things which are not. Generally, we can distinguish between the two on our own. But there are many instances in nature where our mere perception and scientific analysis fails us, and the question becomes more philosophic in nature.

One way to approach the issue is to consider something to be alive if it undergoes all of these functions: growth, metabolism, reproduction, and response to stimuli. However, this is not enough, as there are some non-living things which seem to exhibit all of these functions, such as fire. Furthermore, some things in nature, such as viruses, are questionable as to what life-like characteristics they display.

Some people in the scientific community consider them living, and some do not.

Philosophers of the past have tried to explain life in terms of our higher awareness. It has been argued that animals, insects and other organisms are not alive, but humans are, for we have a state of consciousness that is foundational to living. Others have asserted that just because we are set apart from lower creatures by means of our conscience and awareness does not necessarily make us more alive

There seems to be something beyond our biological make up and structure that imbues us with life. The Bible describes life as being breathed into man by God Himself, indicating that life is God-given and thus, to an extent, supernatural. We cannot create life without the conception of man and woman; therefore, how did it come into existence in the first place? Many...