What is Life? 


Two answers

1.     Life is a magnificent expression of the Divine Principle that undergirds the Cosmos, the physical embodiment of the abstract and subtle Spirit.   Human life with thinking mind and  feeling heart, with values and meanings, love and laughter, poetry and philosophy, music and mathematics and  associated consciousness is the the ultimate pinnacle of Life. It provides  incontrovertible evidence that there is more to the world that mute matter and entropic energy. Indeed, Life is the tangible reflection of the Unfathomable Mystery that gave rise to the Cosmos with all its space and splendor.

2.     Life is the complex process resulting from the accidental emergence of self-replicating molecules that have resulted in self-sustaining open systems, interconnected in the web of biosphere.  Individual life forms  survive as separate entities for a finite period of time by maintaining a dynamic equilibrium with the environment. They propagate by reproduction and are capable of evolving into even more  complex structures with the passage of time and changes in the environment. Life becomes possible in planets with appropriate physical conditions that include water, carbon, radiation, and other factors. Thus, Life is not unique to earth, and  can arise (arises ) in myriad forms in planetary niches all over the universe as and when external conditions are conducive to its emergence and sustenance.

Debates concerning Life arise and are inevitable when people subscribing to these two mutually opposing views insist on the correctness of their respective perspectives when all that can be said is that:

(1) Gives us a loftier vision that paints finite and fleeing existence on an infinite cosmic canvas in the larger framework of philosophy and religion.

(2)  Provides us with an observationally more tenable and epistemically more coherent framework in the study of life as a natural phenomenon.

It is fair to say (or so it seems to me) that when it comes to providing definitive answers to questions relating to ultimate origins and purposes we are today as much in the dark and in the arena of free speculation as our distant reflecting ancestors were.

April 26, 2016

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About Varadaraja V. Raman

Physicist, philosopher, explorer of ideas, bridge-builder, devotee of Modern Science and Enlightenment, respecter of whatever is good and noble in religious traditions as well as in secular humanism,versifier and humorist, public speaker, dreamer of inter-cultural,international,inter-religious peace.
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