Draconaes wrote:Numbered responses:
1) If you are really interested in how living things are defined, it shouldn't be too hard to find it yourself. According to Wikipedia, Life vs Non-life is "a characteristic that distinguishes objects that have signaling and self-sustaining processes from those that do not". You can find other more detailed definitions, and there's some disagreement over the exact criteria. Of course, there's some grey areas (Is a virus alive or not? It meets some criteria I've seen but not others, and changing the criteria only seems to shift the grey areas), but it's not very hard at all to distinguish rocks from humans.
What's a signaling process? If I open a coke can and it fizzes at me, is it signalling? You can follow the definitions down, but the comic points out rather well that defining living things (and, on that basis, placing them in moral categories) is an entirely arbitrary process unless you believe in a Creator and Lawgiver. And, among other things, that makes a ban on steroids in athletic competitions also entirely arbitrary.
Draconaes wrote:2) This really isn't separate from 1. It's a bit disingenuous of you to pretend there isn't a physical distinction (however fuzzy it may be at edge cases) between a random clump of matter and an organism.
That wasn't what I was asking. I was asking how you define "us", or "me", or "you" - terms of personhood. If we are all simply sacks of reacting chemicals, then my concept of your sack of chemicals as a "person" is merely that my chemicals happen to fizz in a certain way. There's no reason why yours should fizz similarly, either when "thinking" (another problematic word) about my sack or about your sack.
The "fizzing chemicals" view of humans has a load of problems, one major one of which is there is no reason why you should trust your brain's interpretation of sense data. Including your sense of self.
Draconaes wrote:3) Faster, in general, means the ability to move more quickly than something that is slower. It does not mean the lack of ability to move less quickly than it otherwise would. Therefore, regardless of other concerns, something that is faster is capable of more things than something that is slower. Is this praiseworthy? Apparently, since people praise it.
That sounds like Hume's is/ought fallacy to me.http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Is%E2%80%93ought_problem
I am asking why something should be so, and you are replying that it is so.
Draconaes wrote:I also fail to see the relevance of any of this to abiogenesis (which is a separate thing from evolution), since none of your questions seems to pose any sort of challenge to it. I'm not sure what evolutionary abiogenesis is; evolution doesn't require abiogenesis, and abiogenesis doesn't require evolution. Can you define evolutionary abiogenesis?
edit: I'd actually love to see your answer to your "what is this "alive" of which you speak?" question. How do you define "Alive"?
By evolutionary abiogenesis, I mean the idea that life arose from inorganic matter and then, by a process of evolution, we ended up with people, walruses and mosquitoes. Perhaps I should have said "abiogenesis and evolution", although the process of abiogenesis is part of the part of evolutionary theory which makes statements about the origin of life.
I don't find it difficult to define "alive" because I don't have a reductionistic view of what a human being is. Genesis 1 and 2 answer the questions about what it means to be a human, an animal or a plant, and what they are all _for_. The sack of chemicals view means there is no answer to questions like "What is a human being for?", "What is my purpose in life?", "Is there a right and wrong way to treat other people?". And if it were true, there's no reason why we should even ask those questions. But everyone does. Which, I suggest, is telling.