How does a protein function? How does a virus infect? How does a cell know what it’s supposed to do? How do seeds start their journey into vegetation? How does a tardigrade spring back to life after being a dried husk? How did life on Earth begin? The answer is selfsame.
There has been voluminous speculation about how life began. Modern scientific literature is consumed with chemistry – how certain compounds may have formed and combined given various hypothesized extant conditions. Innumerable attempts to experimentally replicate abiogenesis have all come to same conclusion: organic muck. The failure is thinking that life lies within molecules per se.
Proteins are macromolecules of dizzying complexity, produced in ribosomal factories manned by proteins. To do their jobs, proteins must make decisions on how to proceed. To make such decisions, proteins be aware of their environment. Awareness requires a mind.
In evolutionary time, viruses shed unnecessary molecular weight; trimming themselves down to essentials to efficaciously lead a parasitic life. An estimated half of life on Earth is parasitic – living off the labors of others. (This accounting does not include governments or capitalists, which are by nature parasitic.)
Viruses must possess considerable cunning to get past sophisticated host defenses and turn cells into slaves. This acumen involves more than ions or chemical concoction. Viruses have minds.
All cells are daughters. Cells function properly partly because they have innate (precocious) knowledge. That is not always enough. In animals, tissues always place novice cells among those with experience, so that young cells may learn.
Seeds are inert but alert. They are responsive to their environment: sensing when condition may be probabilistically favorable to start their life’s adventure. Seeds tens of thousands of years old have managed to sprout when put in sanguine conditions. There must be a life force associated with a seed for it to behave as it does.
Tardigrades (aka water bears) are tiny animals that evolved 800 million years ago. Tardigrades are tremendously tough: able to survive desiccation. (Seeds and certain other life forms have similar ability.) A water bear can lose all its water, becoming a dry husk, and spring back to life when moist times return. This cannot be accounted for by material composition.
The idea of vitalism is prehistoric. Ancient Egyptians wrote of it. 2nd-century Greek anatomist Galen, the most accomplished medical researcher in antiquity, held that vital spirits were necessary for life. In embracing the concept of souls, vitalism underlies most religions.
Vitalism lost its vitality from the mid-17th century: crushed by the inexorable movement toward mechanistic matterism that defined the Scientific Revolution. The idea of a spark of life was abandoned, supplanted by a religious belief in reductionist chemistry, wherein life was merely a peculiar molecular combination.
You can’t explain life by tallying atoms or in the configuration of molecules. You can’t explain anything without invoking energy. If you understand what energy is, then you can begin to comprehend Nature.
Energy is nothing more than an idea – a construct of the mind. After getting past the obvious implication of that fact, the intriguing question that follows is: how can different minds experience congruent actualities?