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Science - Spectacular developments

  • Date Submitted: 08/28/2012 09:27 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 41.8 
  • Words: 2667
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In spite of the spectacular developments in our understanding of the molecular basis that underlies biological phenomena, we still lack a generally agreed-upon definition of life, but this is not for want of trying. Life is an empirical concept; and, as suggested by the many unsuccessful efforts to define it, this task is likely to remain, at best, a work in progress. Although phenomenological characterizations of life are feasible, a precise definition of life remains an elusive intellectual endeavor. This is not surprising: as Nietszche once wrote, there are concepts that can be defined, whereas others only have a history. The purpose of this essay is to discuss some of the manifold (and often unsatisfactory) definitions of life that have been attempted from different intellectual and scientific perspectives and reflect, at least in part, the key role that historical frameworks play. Although some efforts have been more fruitful, the lack of an all-embracing, generally agreed-upon definition of life sometimes gives the impression that what is meant by life's origin is defined in somewhat imprecise terms and that several entirely different questions are often confused. The many attempts made to reduce the nature of living systems to a single living compound imply that life can be so well defined that the exact point at which it started can be established with the sudden appearance of the first replicating molecule. On the other hand, if the emergence of life is seen as the stepwise (but not necessarily slow) evolutionary transition between the non-living and the living, then it may be meaningless to draw a strict line between them.
Science is basically a method of careful and systematic observation by which man has learned and accomplished through God's grace many wonderful things. Science is a tool for man to use and not a god to he worshipped. The use of science as a tool is also a completely human enterprise and as such is subject to all the...


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