I posted this thread and left it to stew for a while to see what would emerge. Firstly I must state that I am not, in any way shape or form, a creationist/IDist but I am of the opinion that the reductionist method may not be as all encompassing as it appears to be. Part of science is to provide a description of reality and, in my opinion, Life is a fundamental feature of reality, particularly when discussing something like evolution. To suggest that trying to define Life is outside the arena of science seems preposterous to me and I find it truly shocking that there seems to be no scientific consensus on what Life is but it is understandable. Reductionism cannot touch something like Life which is why the question must be treated as non-scientific, brushed aside or sniggered at. The only alternative is to imagine that Life is an emergent property of physical/chemical interactions. An optical illusion created by complexity. I would like to put this thought forward: What if Life is an independently existing, NON-PHYSICAL phenomenom? How could reductionism describe something like this? As Frank Yurco stated "Life should be taken as a given, like energy or matter."
You are living. It is one of the most fundamental aspects of your existence. Rather than talk generally about Life let's get specific - the Life in YOU. Could we say you are Matter, Energy and Life? Matter and Energy are scientific but Life is not? Matter exists, Energy exists but Life does not? If Life does exist surely it MUST be described specifically by science.
That is exactly the point I am making - if it cannot be weighed or measured then it cannot possibly exist according to the reductionist view but I am completely unwilling to say that Life doesn't exist
I am unwilling to say that Life doesn't exist in the same way I am unwilling to say that Matter doesn't exist or Energy doesn't exist. Is there anything you have to say about the subject of the thread itself? I feel this thread is getting bogged down in semantics and solipsism. Let me help you out. A good working definition of Matter is "that which has mass and occupies physical space". I wondered if there was a similar kind of definition for Life but, judging by the responses I've received to this thread it appears there isn't. This leads me to suspect that Life, like Mind, cannot be scientifically proven to exist. In a forum dealing with evolution I find this unusual to say the least.
'Life' is indeed a clumsy label but I am trying to reach some kind of mutual understanding about this label as it seems very nebulous at the moment. If we were to take as an example a rock and a tree we could say with some kind of certainty that one is living and one is not. One has Life one does not. Would you say that the Life in the tree is an emergent property of incredibly complex electro-chemical processes? If so, would you agree that this implies that Life is a by-product of this complexity?
PS thanks for writing something constructive as I am genuinely trying explore the intuitive feeling I have that, far from being a by-product, Life is, in some as yet unspecified way, the 'driving force' behind this complexity and not the other way round.
In response to PANDA. This is precisely the kind of semantic nonsense I will be refusing to engage with in the future. I see you have chosen to omit the phrase 'scientifically proven'. Does happiness exist? Yes Is it scientifically proven to exist? NO Now think about this for a second - it exists but it is not scientifically proven to exist. Have the manners not to wade in with some facile comment, actually think about it because there is a paradox here that is at the heart of what I'm trying to understand.