Biology and the riddle of life by Charles Birch

By Charles Birch

Charles Birch considers basic questions on existence and the connection among technological know-how and faith. Questions reminiscent of: what's lifestyles? What does it suggest to be alive? Is God helpful? Birch indicates that viewing the area as a realm of expertise instead of as a set of gadgets permits one to return to a naturalistic realizing of God that's very assorted from conventional non secular notions.

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Another Italian of the same period with similar ideas was Faustus Socinus. A reformer who fled from Italy to Geneva, his views were too radical for the Swiss reformation. Geneva under Calvin was no safe place for heretics. After Calvin burned the heretic and biologist Servetus at the stake in 1553, Socinus fled to Transylvania for his own safety. To this day Socinian teachings survive in Transylvania in the Socinian church. It is appropriate to refer to the lower entities, such as atoms and molecules, as organisms since they are presumed to have some degree of freedom, self-determination and responsiveness.

It seems that it is a matter of choice as to which definition of life is most useful in the field we happen to be working in, be it searching for life on other planets or in computer programs or trying to make life in the biochemist's laboratory. Nobel Prize physicist Erwin Schrodinger wrote a book in 1944 with the title What is Life? It has been described as one of the most influential books in the history of science. Its object was to investigate the extent to which life could be accounted for in terms of physics and chemistry, despite our 'obvious inability' to define life.

When someone tells me that was an interesting lecture you gave yesterday I ask in response, what did you find interesting? Sometimes I get a blank stare or at most they can remember a joke I told. Their problem is that they have no mental pegs onto which to hang new information. Page 10 If they had there would have been important questions hanging on some mental peg or other that was crying out for an answer. A task today, particularly in the science of life, is to make interesting propositions, especially way-out ones.

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