We were watching Star Trek, The Next Generation, Season 6, Episode 9, “The Quality of Life” in which Data asked Beverly Crusher, the doctor, “How do we know something is alive?” He was referring to a small AI machine that was created to perform certain tasks. This “robot” was capable of “learning.” Data is, himself, an android—a fact that gives context to his question.
How do we define life? Data, on Star Trek, thought it had to do with the ability to learn and adjust to one’s surroundings or the ability to grow. Maybe, it is more about the ability to reproduce. All living things can do that.
Live beings, “think” according to Descartes. “Cogito ergo sum.” [I think, therefore, I am.] All living organisms have brains? But what about plants? Such questions, however, are generally ignored by those of us who have a life to live, but perhaps, we should take a moment out to “think about it.”[no pun intended].
Sherlock Holme’s Professor Moriarty, in episode 12, claims to be alive (even though he was a hologram). He claimed self-awareness. “I have consciousness!” he argued. Pickard, captain of the Enterprise, realizing Moriarty’s imagined sentience was dangerous, created for him a universe within the hologram that he thought was the real world. Pickard now could pilot his ship in his reality while Moriarty and his woman friend took a shuttle craft merrily though the darkness in theirs. “Who knows.” Pickard mused, “Our reality may be very much like theirs and all this [pointing to his ship] might just be an elaborate simulation running inside a little device sitting on someone’s table.”
The newest definition of life is that all living things have a genetic code. If this “genetic code” is considered in simplest terms a protein mix, chemicals, that somehow program us to function as humans, we might someday synthesize these proteins and, thereby, replicate that organic soup in which life allegedly began?
“But cells are not simple plasmic units of chemical reactions.” affirmed Stephen Meyer in “Signature in the Cell” (New York:Harper Collins Publishers. 2009), Chapter 9. “Cells are complex living units with at least 250 functioning protein clusters,” Meyer said. The organic soup has a cook!?
America is waiting on the latest Power Ball numbers to win 1.2 billion (with a ‘B’) dollars. The odds of claiming the jackpot are 1 in 292.2 million. We understand that there is a 1 in 1,222,000 chance of death or injury from lightning in a given year; a 1 in 57,825 chance of dying from a hornet, wasp, or bee sting during your lifetime. Google it.
“The probability of producing the proteins necessary to build a minimally complex cell—or the genetic information necessary to produce those proteins—by chance,” Meyers calculated, “is unimaginably small.” His abacus ran out of colored beads. “That’s a ‘1’ followed by 41,000 zeros!” he wrote.
Has humankind evolved from monkeys or are we “made in the image of God”? The “monkey” theory reduces hope to nothing more than a religious placebo rather than actually talking to the God Who gives hope!. When there is no real reason for our life in relation to an eternal God, we can only dream within the limitations of this life in which death is inevitable; we are reliant on no one but ourselves, and life is invested in an evolutionary process that will “hopefully” bring in a utopia for our progeny.
For you are my hope, Lord GOD, my confidence from my youth. – Psalm 71:5 [CSB]
Not to believe in God? It makes more sense to play the lottery.