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LucidElement

What Is Life?

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This right here, could be a controversial question, but im just asking to all of you UM memebers "what do you think life is?" im sure there will be sarcastic people out there, and realistic ones.. but im just askin., to see what you all think..

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This right here, could be a controversial question, but im just asking to all of you UM memebers "what do you think life is?" im sure there will be sarcastic people out there, and realistic ones.. but im just askin., to see what you all think..

What's the biological definition these days? Metabolism, locomotion, respiration, reproduction? That's life, not conscious life (necessarily).

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no, ur to indepth... im just asking more along the lines of.. "why are we here"? what is life? what purpose do we serve.. i no many people have asked this within the years.. but im just asking the broad question... "why are we here"? what is life?

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Is it opinions you're after? Here's mine.

What we call life is a chemical process resulting from the chance coming together of chemicals, approximately 3.7 billion years ago on this planet, in such a way that those chemicals were able to attract like chemicals to themselves, creating self-replicas which themselves went on to replicate.

Over the billions of years, these replicator molecules have become more sophisticated through a process of natural selection, to the extent of building survival machines around themselves which aid with the replication process. We call these survival machines organisms, and they are used to effect replication of their own replicator molecules (genes).

This is essentially Richard Dawkins' Selfish Gene interpretation of the data on natural selection. I don't see much beyond that by way of 'meaning of life' or 'why are we here', other than what we humans invent to decorate that fairly harsh reality with.

However, the decorations we humans have invented are pretty much everything we have, and are important - human cultures and identities are not endowed to us by external reality, but created and agreed between us (partly as a way to aid with the replication process I described above), yet this doesn't remove any of their significance or importance, in my view. We don't serve non-human, superhuman or formerly-human beings, we serve our own purposes. As a rider to that, I believe that the sooner we all acknowledge that, the more effectively those purposes can be served.

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Posted (edited)

no, ur to indepth... im just asking more along the lines of.. "why are we here"? what is life? what purpose do we serve.. i no many people have asked this within the years.. but im just asking the broad question... "why are we here"? what is life?

That is the big question, isn't it. It is the question I go to sleep with and wake up with. I've had more than 30 years to try and come up with answer to the question and I have yet to find it. After all this time the best I can offer is I don't know. Maybe the answer to the question is something you can only find within yourself. My answer to the question, while perfectly satisfactory for me, might not be the answer for you.

Edited by Razer

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What we call life is a chemical process resulting from the chance coming together of chemicals, approximately 3.7 billion years ago on this planet

I'm with Nucular on this one :yes: Life is just something that eventuated from a freak accident!

However, the decorations we humans have invented are pretty much everything we have

And as human beings we've decorated our "origins" with as many frills possible: especially through religion.

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What's the biological definition these days? Metabolism, locomotion, respiration, reproduction? That's life, not conscious life (necessarily).

The four Fs: Food, Fight, Flight, and Reproduction ...hehehe

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We're here to die.

Think about it, no life = no death.

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Posted (edited)

I would describe it as a manifestation of matter which arises when possible. Of course there is more detailed chemical explanation for it, but that's the essence of it as I understand it.

Edited by Wombat

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I believe Life is ~ to gain experience, to teach each other about love, and to expand our consciousness ~ and to just BE.

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I love these type of questions B)

In my view life is there for a greater purpose of cosmos which we may only know after we die. There must be some evolutionary reason, wy do we store memories and have subconscious mind and have dreams. Also I believe that consciousness is energy which makes objects "animate", provided right set of physical bodily conditions are achieved. It is conscious energy that makes a cell "live"

Nucular, can you explain to me when sperm meets egg, is it a chance that baby or live cell is born? Also the chemicals you are talking about, are these stored in egg and sperm, if not then where are these chemicals coming from?

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I believe this is Hell on Earth and it is up from here.

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I believe Life is ~ to gain experience, to teach each other about love, and to expand our consciousness ~ and to just BE.

Your life has purpose I can tell~

As for the OP: Some people are getting closer to death while others are gaining more life. Are you living or dying? That is the question...

+ i wonder how many experience points i have now? i am ready to lvl woot!

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I believe this is Hell on Earth and it is up from here.

Really? That's rather depressing, especially considering that there is no evidence to suggest that there is any other life but this.

My view is the exact opposite.

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Nucular, can you explain to me when sperm meets egg, is it a chance that baby or live cell is born? Also the chemicals you are talking about, are these stored in egg and sperm, if not then where are these chemicals coming from?

Hi vikstar, no, the production of an embryo following the meeting of sperm and egg isn't chance, it's a biological process like any other.

The chance I mentioned related to the ultimate origin of life on Earth billions of years ago - there are a few ways we know the replicating chemical could have been formed, and each scientific model has chance operating in the right conditions over a probably quite long period of time.

The chemicals I'm talking about were the chemicals which first began to replicate. We, and all life on Earth, are the distant descendents of these replicators. Over time, as evolution by natural selection took place over the epochs, these chemicals became increasingly complex and good at their job (i.e. replicating). The equivalent 'stuff' inside us is the DNA which is contained in every cell in our bodies. This is a chemical which still replicates itself inside of our bodies, and transmits half of those replicas into the sex cells (sperm or egg) for 'mixing' at conception. It's the chemical blueprint for the person in whose cells the DNA is contained, and the genetic information it carries is what gets passed onto babies by the parents.

As soon as the egg is fertilised (i.e. sperm meets egg), the half of the genetic information from the father meets with half the mother's genetic information, and the process of gestation begins, where that new blueprint is worked up into a baby, using biochemical material supplied by the mother.

Did that address your question?

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^ thanks mate, it does make your viewpoint clearer.

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Posted (edited)

Life is just one half of the experience.

Edited by Shankpin

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i'd say to "learn"

we got these supposed 'lower' life forms such as cats and dogs.. who do not develop technology and fiddle with nature.. then as we go up this supposed hierachy we get apes using sticks to root out termites (the begining of a technology so to speak) and humans, who make atom bombs, DDT and brittany spears CD's..

the (cough) higher these life forms develop, the more we see them interacting with the environment and for lack of a better word 'manipulating' it...

etc..

razer

That is the big question, isn't it. It is the question I go to sleep with and wake up with. I've had more than 30 years to try and come up with answer to the question and I have yet to find it. After all this time the best I can offer is I don't know. Maybe the answer to the question is something you can only find within yourself. My answer to the question, while perfectly satisfactory for me, might not be the answer for you.

was an excellent reply i think.. seems to also indicate the process of learning :)

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Life is hugging my daughter and hear her call me mom . Real Life .

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life is a process of dying

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As I understand it, evolution is the random occurance of mutations and the ones that favour the survival of the species will remain in the genetic code. After a series of mutations a new species will come into existence that will not be able to reproduce with the representatives of the original species.

The only thing I don't understand is what kind of genetic modification resulted in the occurance of emotions, sense of beauty, admiration, jealousy, etc. in humans, and why nature favoured this to the extent that all those who didn't have these properties had to become instinct leaving only emotional ones behind. I fail to see how the emotions jealosy, revenge and greed are linked to the survival of our species. All I see these causing is the destruction of our only home, Earth. I also can't quite grasp what kind of genetic mutation could've resulted in the occurance of human consciousness and how these things are inherited. Same with ethics, moral guidelines, values and principles. Are there genes for these? Why did nature give us our brain's infinite memory capacity if we never fill a millionth of it? And I could go on with these questions but I could also pose equally challenging questions to people of any religious beliefs. I do have my own opinion of who we are, where we come from, why we are here and where we are going. But who cares, you'll only believe whatever YOU want to believe anyway. ;)

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Posted (edited)

I don't consider such a thing as life to exist.

There is no magical boundary that says "I am one thing, and everything around me is something else". Our bodies can all be broken down to different atoms, they're just working in a different way to form our bodies. The air is also composed of different atoms. Everything we do, think, or say, is just atoms interacting with each other, it's all cause and effect. Every choice we make has a complete string of events, one causing the other and leading to our decision. "Life" is just a complex form of simple action and reaction. Everything is natural, everything is simple. We give it all meaning because that's the way things happened, and the organisms that are our bodies need tools like that to make sense of a universe that is actually small and simple.

This is the concept of an organism. Everything is composed of smaller bodies of matter that form together and interact in a way that they can form a new object with a different form/purpose/meaning. Even most atoms follow this principle, as they've had protons added to them to create new and more dense elements. Humans are an organism, we are the sum of all our parts. Our parts all act in their own way for specific reasons, forming this "life" we are all so fond of, that is more of an illusion than a real thing.

Edited by KBA

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sorry if i missed something i didnt read the rest of the posts, but im just here to answer your question =) to me life is a mistake, we are all a big mistake, maybe life was not suppose to even exsist see we live and we die so whats the poiint of living, learning things, being rich, poor, disabled, having nothing or having it all if in the end you die and everything you had if u were rich yo ulose it and if you were already nothing then no one cares or remebers you theres no point in doing all that when in the end you die its dumb. a mistake.

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Life is what you as an individual think it is.

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Hi Rolci - I can have a go at answering some of your questions from the position I outlined earlier in the thread, if that's okay.

The only thing I don't understand is what kind of genetic modification resulted in the occurance of emotions, sense of beauty, admiration, jealousy, etc. in humans, and why nature favoured this to the extent that all those who didn't have these properties had to become instinct leaving only emotional ones behind.

To understand why human emotions may have evolved, it is necessary only to ask what differential reproductive advantage they may bring.

Different emotions bring behavioural changes upon individuals, and so if these behavioural changes affect positively, however slightly, the chances of the genetic mutation which has caused them being passed on, then that genetic change - a new gene - will become more common in the gene pool than its alleles which do not confer such an advantage. Human emotions tend to have fairly obvious 'functions' on the evolutionary level: romantic love, for instance, is an emotion which helps to regulate our reproductive behaviour, causing (amongst other things) loyalty to a reproductive partner which helps to protect one's offspring and the copies of one's genes those offspring contain. Familial love tends to correlate (as a rule of thumb) in intensity with the amount of genes the recipient shares with the individual feeling that emotion: the fewer genes shared by two individuals (e.g., the more distant the cousins), the less the familial connection and love tends to be felt (this is less true with adoptive relatives, which is a social phenomenon which probably has its own evolutionary function). Similarly, an aesthetic sense is associated with various phenomena, some with clear evolutionary payoffs (such as the sense of beauty of a healthy, symmetrical, reproductively viable potential sexual partner), others of more cultural, proximal importance and function (such as art).

I fail to see how the emotions jealosy, revenge and greed are linked to the survival of our species. All I see these causing is the destruction of our only home, Earth.

This is, of course, partly an outcome of those sorts of emotions. But I suspect the key to your misunderstanding comes from what you said before that:

As I understand it, evolution is the random occurance of mutations and the ones that favour the survival of the species will remain in the genetic code.

There is debate around what exactly the 'currency' of natural selection is - i.e. at what level things actually evolve at, or to put it another way, what is it that actually does the evolving. The view I outlined earlier posits the gene as the fundamental unit of selection, and I tend to think this is the best way to understand the process; but other contenders for that 'unit' would be the individual, the group, the species or even higher taxonomic levels than these. Few would claim today that natural selection takes place mostly - or at all - at the species level, and so it's not really correct to say that "mutations ... that favour the survival of the species will remain" - it's all about the gene. Genes which confer a survival advantage are passed on; those which do not, are not. Accordingly, there is nothing within the process of natural selection itself which should protect the Earth, since there is no selection occurring at this level. Also, bear in mind that natural selection is blind, or at least short-sighted, and so although it would make long-term sense even at the level of gene selection to protect the planet, there is no mechanism which could build this long-term goal into the process of evolution.

Thus, the payoffs for such emotions or acts as jealousy, revenge and greed are immediate and selfish even to the genetic level, and such ruthless, petty and ugly genes will be selected for regardless. This is because the sorts of immediate advantages such phenomena bring would be exactly the types of things which still make individuals (and therefore the genes they carry) successful - a cut-throat approach to life, a clear concept of what resources or powerful position an individual wishes to have, and the drive to go out and get it, regardless of the consequences to others. These sorts of genes compete with those for different strategies (such as reciprocal altruism, empathy, friendliness to strangers, etc.), and do rather well (we all have a dose of those less pleasant genes, some more than others).

I also can't quite grasp what kind of genetic mutation could've resulted in the occurance of human consciousness and how these things are inherited.

This is the most difficult question to answer from an evolutionary perspective; there is no definitive answer to this, but there must be very important payoffs to such a resource-intensive adaptation as consciousness (it takes a lot of brain, which is an expensive commodity). I think the valuable function of consciousness would almost certainly be some sort of executive function, like suddenly introducing a managing director to improve the efficiency of previously unmanaged workers, as well as the ability to model and predict the environment. A bit of consciousness probably goes quite a long way in terms of efficiency and imagination. To consciously model aspects of our world in our minds, to conduct thought experiments constantly as we all do, must be advantageous, as it alows us to anticipate and affect the world in new ways, and even to guess the thoughts of others (and thereby be able to fool them better).

Same with ethics, moral guidelines, values and principles. Are there genes for these?

I would say there are genes for certain ethics and morals, and other genes more generally for being ethical and moral. Many principles and values are culturally relative, whilst others seem to be universal. The reciprocal altruism and co-operation with mutual benefit which evolves in social species like humans can be seen as being helped to work by the morals and ethics current in those groups, or common to all species members.

Why did nature give us our brain's infinite memory capacity if we never fill a millionth of it?

It is highly unlikely that memory capacity is infinite; for most people, in practice, the efficiency and capacity of memory processes just about meets their needs. We all forget stuff; we all struggle to remember other things we know are in there somewhere; sometimes data compression seems to damage the memories we have stored; sometimes related cognitive systems such as emotion, or belief, or attention, distort, delete and rewrite our memories. Rather than 'never filling a millionth' of our memory capacity, it seems likely we use all of it to varying degrees of efficiency. My own memory is rather like a big, cluttered room, with overflowing drawers and things I've put down temporarily and forgotten to put away, and very few labels and shelves. I'm using the whole room, but if I'd tidied it properly and made an effort to put things in the right place to start with, I'd probably be functioning at a much higher level! We've evolved the ability to store experiences for a long time, and some types of information can be stored for a lifetime; and like most evolved mechanisms, it's 'good enough', not perfect, because there comes a point where the resource cost of improvement ceases to give a proportional functional payoff impacting reproductive viability, and so the genes 'spending' more on a particular system won't spread through a population as readily as those which are more frugal.

And I could go on with these questions but I could also pose equally challenging questions to people of any religious beliefs. I do have my own opinion of who we are, where we come from, why we are here and where we are going. But who cares, you'll only believe whatever YOU want to believe anyway. ;)

Well, that's what we've evolved to do (or maybe the beliefs have evolved to do that to us!).

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