Question from Aravind:
the theory of abiogenisis states that we evolved from non living matter and that atoms are nonliving and that the only reason for which the atoms in our body work together is because of Chemical feedback loops acting so if we are made up of non living matter how is it that I am able to perceive my external environment how am i able to think how is it that I am conscious since i am made up of nonliving matter how is it that i am able to perceive my external environment the very fact that i am able to respond to external factors like gravity electricity ,magnetism is because the atoms in my body perceive them??
the very fact that I am sentient and can perceive my external environment conforms that there is something in me which is not nonliving ??we know that atoms are nonliving simply by the fact that they cannot regroup to form an amputated arm or form an eve of a blind person by simply sensing the combination of atoms from the eye of another living being so if we are able to sense the environment it means that there is some other transcendental property in me which is perceiving the external environment(soul???)
if I was made up of nonliving matter i would simply respond to existing code and chemical feedback loops and be unable to form my own thoughts but that is not the case i can even condition myself to starve myself for long periods of time which means that i am not simply responding to existing codes to enable my survival and reproduce The very fact that I do not function to the basic codes of survival implanted in my dna like a robot responds to existing programs shows that there is something inside me (soul???) that is not nonliving????
if the primordial bacteria which replicated itself was already composed of nonliving randomly combined atoms why did the bacteria replicate itself since it was already dead why would it want to shuffle its genes to evolve in order to adopt to the environment if it was composed of dead matter to begin with it would be meaningless for something which was already dead to evolve and preserve its code if it was already dead???
Answer by SmartLX:
An atom cannot be alive, because life as we define it requires a great deal of interaction between atoms. Living tissue, however, is made up of atoms which by themselves or in small groups would be regarded as non-living. All of the remarkable functions of living tissue, including brains, are performed via chemical (and electrical) interactions between individually non-living atoms. It’s like how a computer does its computations with a bunch of silicon and copper atoms. Nobody thinks that’s impossible.
The first self-replicating organism probably did form through random combinations of components, but if you have hundreds of men and hundreds of women at a party you’d be surprised if at least one couple doesn’t form. Once the organism had formed, it replicated not because it wanted to (it couldn’t want anything) but because that’s what its parts could do. It evolved not because it had any evolutionary goal but because later copies of it were slightly different from each other, and had to compete based on their physical qualities.
Our sentience and consciousness are referred to as “higher brain functions” because that’s exactly what they are. The human brain is a network more complex than the world’s biggest computer (though computers are slowly catching up). It does everything it does by receiving input through our eyes, ears, skin, etc. and processing it with nothing but “grey matter” and tiny electrical sparks.
That works because it does an awful lot of simple processing in a short time. A calculator actually only knows how to add, or did until recently. All its other functions are accomplished by complicated sequences of adding (adding negative numbers to subtract, adding multiple times to multiply, etc.) Likewise, the neural network has the capacity to form complex thoughts out of multitudes of simple processes.
We think about things other than survival for two reasons. Firstly, as other animals demonstrate, you can usually survive on far less brainpower than we have. Secondly, our survival is almost assured in the short term because of the stable society in which we live, so we can indulge in the luxury of applying our minds to other matters. As soon as we feel that our survival or that of our friends or family is directly threatened, however, we won’t even notice how quickly our brains abandon extraneous thoughts and focus fully on survival.
Brainless atoms form brains, lifeless atoms form life, mindless neurons give rise to a conscious mind. The simple comes together to form the complex. It happens. We’re proof.
Incidentally, I would suggest to you that what Terry Pratchett has written on the subject of multiple exclamation marks also applies to question marks.
Brainless atoms form brains, lifeless atoms form life, meaningless synapses form a conscious mind. The simple comes together to form the complex. It happens. We’re proof.
Question from Aravind: