Biology and the riddle of life by Charles Birch

By Charles Birch

Charles Birch considers primary questions about existence and the connection among technological know-how and faith. Questions equivalent to: what's existence? What does it suggest to be alive? Is God important? Birch exhibits that viewing the realm as a realm of expertise instead of as a set of gadgets permits one to come back to a naturalistic realizing of God that's very diverse from conventional non secular notions.

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It is an experience to be a human being. It is also an experience to be a cat or an amoeba. It is not an experience to be a nebula or a computer, though it may be experience to the atoms and molecules that make up these objects. I give reasons for this proposition later on. Page 17 The Criterion of Life Human beings, cells, non-human beings atoms and molecules have some things in common. They have some degree of freedom and self-determination. They take account of their environment internally. They are events and not substances.

Curiously they saw progress in the future understanding of life as running along the Schrodinger track of mechanistic biology which seeks to interpret life solely in terms of physics and chemistry. A. N. Whitehead long ago anticipated that biology would take over physics and not physics take over biology. But that has not happened. That it could happen is one of the propositions of this book, for physics and chemistry as we know them do not account for the full richness of biological phenomena, notably our experiences.

This isn't just an academic issue. In the nineteenth century John Stuart Mill was brought up by his father to become a thinking machine. He suffered a nervous breakdown at the age of twenty. He then turned to the poetry of Wordsworth (as did Whitehead), which rescued him from depression and tapped a vein of deep feeling which had been scanted by his education. Whitehead (1929a) made the following provocative statement which really irritates the traditional scientist: 'In the real world it is more important that a proposition be interesting than that it be true.

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