||Life is a stage of cosmic
evolution that arises from the organisation of matter.
I believe - no, i am absolutely
certain - that life is ubiquitious thoughout the universe, and arises wherever
conditions will allow it.
Life, having arisen, is tenacious
and adaptable, and not only modifies itself to better suit its environment
even modifies it's envoronment to better suit its own functioning (Gaia).
What is Life?
It is hard to define the essential characteristics of life. The following
have been suggested:
sensitivity (response to stimulii, e.g. light heat
complexity (although non-living things can be complex,
no living thing can be non-complex)
celluar organisation (organised assemblages of molocules
enclosed within membranes)
growth and metabolism (all living things assimilate
energy and use it to grow)
homeostasis (maintaining constant physiological conditions
and balances in the body)
reproduction and heredity (passing on traits from
one generation to the next by means of coded information, RNA, DNA, etc),
The Study of Life
Limited as we are to a planet-bound perspective, the study of life
can be divided into two broad fields:
The Origin of Life
Depending on what paradigm
you prefer, there are various theories as to how life arose
According to the Religious
Paradigm (based on the Dualistic
assumption of an external supernatural deity) Life comes about through
the supernatural agency of a God.
(Personally, I don't have much sympathy for supernaturalist theories).
according to the Scientistic
Paradigm (based on the Materialistic
assumption that all that exists is Physical
Reality), Life comes about through the progressive self-organistaion
of complex molocules under suitable environmental conditions.
according to the ET hypothesis life was seeded from earlier civilisations
(which doesnt explain how those earlier civilisations came about!)
Again, like the religious position, this involves an arbitrary belief in
a "higher power"
according to the Esoteric/Occult
Paradigm (based on the Emanationist
assumption of reality as an ontological spectrum from spirit to mattter)
Life comes about through the manifestation of the vital
principle (Ch'i, Prana, Orgone, Etheric) in physical matter.
The philosophical term for this is called Vitalism.
The exaplanation suggested here combines the Scientistic with the Esoteric.
Life is an emergent property that occurs when physical/material evolution
reaches a grade of complexity (infomation richness) that allows bodily
expression of Etheric phenomena in Physical Matter.
The Tree of Life
Life evolves as a branching tree of evolutionary lineages. The tree
of life grows not through space, but through time. It is a single
organism extended through the "fourth dimension". The relating of
teh various branches and tracing them back to their origin is called Phylogeny.
On planet Earth (The Gaian superorganism)
there are three domains (Archaea, Eubacteria, Eukaryota) with seven broad
kingdoms (Archaeabacteria, Eubacteria,
of life. The classification of the various branches and twigs of
the tree of life, according to their common ancestry, is called Systematics.
Hierarchies of Units of Life
Life is organised in a fractal (self-similiar) manner over several
back to Biosphere
back to Gaia
page uploaded 11 June 1999
modified 4 December