Friday, November 13, 2015
When does life begin...really?
When does life begin?
If by "life" you mean all the living things that populate the Earth now and "always have," one can fall back upon any of hundreds of creation myths that ancient cultures assembled as a first iteration origins hypothesis. Much magical story diversity is to be had, from piggybacking turtles to dust sculptors, alas one might summarize the gestalt of when life began in these unbelievable, colorful tales-- as the words of one extant myth compilation puts it: [Life began] "in the beginning."
If by "life" you mean the initial moment that a self replicating organism wiggled in the microscopic environment of our planet, current evidence speculates about 3.5 billion years ago (give or take a billion) chemical mixing of organic compounds alongside slow solar heating and other stresses converged into an RNA-like specimen. This information carrying replicator perhaps unifies each plant, animal, protozoa, fungi, bacteria and virus as first matriarch. (speculation that life was seeded by even older spore carrying meteorites notwithstanding)
If by "life" you mean when a new generation individual is considered alive in its own right separate from its parent(s), then you have several parameters worth considering from the moment of parental chromosomal merging to first heart beat to first gill flutter to first neuron firing to first photosyntesizing reaction. One might even suggest that individual lives have no true beginning, and rather are part of the greater continuum of life.
If by "life" you mean when a soul is present in a human being, I refer you back to the first entry to select from hundreds of various culture myths to conflate a soulful solution creatively.
If by "life" you mean when a human being should be recognized by the state as a person and subsequently protected under the auspices of secular law, refer to the legal precedents which exist. Depending on the governing body, they tend to seek a reasonable compromise in a world of imperfectly implemented contraception and sex education. Factor in how ever much money religious organizations budget to support the feverishly clung to cultural myths they sell to their members.
If by "life" you mean consciousness, then we're entering subjective territory. Because humans are the only current species in the vicinity throwing such abstract terminology around, expect the answer to be strongly connected to being human first. If you're reading this, then I judge you alive and conscious, case closed.
Alas, if your work week ends like many who are strapped five days a week to the corporate machine which is in turn strapped to the even greater economic machine that is strapped to the living and resource limited Earth, your answer might very well be "Life begins at Friday Happy Hour!"
Of course, this last begs the question, are many of us dead 5/7ths of our working lives? (see last week's post on finding true purpose)
Personally, I don't normally subscribe to black and white statements, nevertheless, given this blog's mission, I'll end this snarktastic pondering where it ought to have begun: "Life is Good!"