Savoring Life

Savoring Life

When I was growing up, we were taught that there were two conditions necessary for life, water and sunlight. After living things were discovered in deep seas beyond the mesopelagic zone (3300 feet) where light is insufficient for photosynthesis, "sunlight" was replaced with "source of energy" as a condition of life. It is now understood that there are other physical and chemical factors such as temperature, atmosphere, gravity, nutrients etc. necessary for life. At least here on earth.

But, is that all that is required for life? Think of the journey of a single atom from an asteroid that strikes earth and dissipates. This one atom might end up in a cell structure making up a plant. We may end up eating that plant and the same atom may become a component in the organism that we are. After we die, it may be a part of a fossil, a rock or another organism. Sometimes, this atom may end up in an organic molecule or a living organism, while at other times it may be a part of some inorganic compound.

To explain life, early philosophers suggested the idea of a soul, an essence distinct from the material world. Others such as Rene Descartes suggested a mind and matter dualism, while others such as monistic idealists suggested that consciousness creates matter. The reality is that, no one has sufficiently explained how atoms from the same set of elements organize themselves into a highly complex organic form that can grow, reproduce, self-regulate, respond to stimuli and in higher forms, be capable of sentience, consciousness and reasoning. An organism that can savor its own existence.
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