Science does not know what life is. Which is to say, the definition of life is not scientific. Science begins with the definition—supplied by outside sources and methods—and then does its best to measure the causes of it.
Don’t sweat much over this. As regular readers know, science uses math and math isn’t scientific either. Science begins with the definitions of math, like everybody else, and then puts math to use. Math isn’t scientific because no math is ever observed, and the causes of it are unplumbable. If you think not, go out and find sqrt(-1) in your yard. So math isn’t scientific.
Naturally, science freely mixes in heaps of philosophy with the math; physics must needs metaphysics. It is impossible—not unlikely: impossible—to do science without a philosophy. I mean, it’s not science but scientists who do this mixing. What makes the whole thing difficult is that it’s scientists who do science, so it can be perplexing to separate the philosophy from the science especially when scientists deny they have a philosophy.
Which brings us to the observation that not only does science not know what life is, scientists do not know how life was first created. Genesis: they are ignorant on this important matter.
Fred Reed is terrific on this. He exposes every bluff and bluster scientists use when reminded they have no idea about Genesis. Here’s a brief quotation from a large list:
I was probably in college when I found myself asking what seemed to me straightforward questions about the chemical origin of life. In particular:
1. Life was said to have begun by chemical inadvertence in the early seas. Did we, I wondered, really know of what those early seas consisted? Know, not suspect, hope, theorize, divine, speculate, or really, really wish.
The answer was, and is, no. We have no dried residue, no remaining pools, and the science of planetogenesis isn’t nearly good enough to provide a quantitative analysis.
2. Had the creation of a living cell been replicated in the laboratory? No, it hadn’t, and hasn’t. (Note 1)
3. Did we know what conditions were necessary for a cell to come about? No, we didn’t, and don’t.
4. Could it be shown to be mathematically probable that a cell would form, given any soup whatever? No, it couldn’t, and can’t. (At least not without cooking the assumptions.) (Note 2)
Still, many scientists still believe they have solved Genesis. One way scientists think they solve the problem of Genesis is the Step Back Shuffle. It goes like this:
Okay, scientists say, we don’t know with any certainty how life could have arose on Earth. So maybe it came from the skies, in the form of a meteor having just the right chemio-biological constituents. Anyway, the universe is surely teeming with life, and some of it came here. Problem solved.
Some of that mysterious, unobserved, wholly posited life might have come here, sure. Which is to say, it’s not logically impossible. But this just puts the problem one step back. It does not solve it. Scientists still have to explain Genesis on at least one of these hypothetical planets. Maybe they can. On the other hand, maybe they can’t. Ever.
The device of the Step Back Shuffle was used in the movie Contact. In it, aliens transmit instructions for a device which allows Jodie Foster to travel through wormholes to visit them. When Foster gets to the alien planet, an alien in the form of her dead dad admits his race didn’t build the tunnels, that they were built by others who came before them.
But, the simulacra of a dad said to Foster, we’re still happy to have found you, because it’s nice to know others exist.
Which it would be. But why?
Sharper readers can already see that there was more than one use of the Step Back Shuffle. The first is the shoulder shrugging over the tunnel-building aliens. The second is in why its nice to discover there are others, and why Foster’s dad appeared.
It’s obvious enough that Carl Sagan (who wrote the book) longed for the same things we all long for, and tried to reinvent Heaven via advanced machines and angelic-like life. None of which explains the origin of the longing. It only moves it one step back, by pretending to have found a solution for it.
Buy my new book and learn to argue against the regime: Everything You Believe Is Wrong.