What is Life?
Sara Walker, associate professor at Arizona State University, explores the question of what constitutes life, or intelligent life, in the first video below. In order to identify life elsewhere in the universe, we have to first understand what life is here on our own planet. She suggests that we think about the kinds of technology that an intelligent being might create that we could look for to identify possible sources of life elsewhere.
“I think we take for granted how special we are,” Walker says. The fact that our little planet has all the right elements to host intelligent beings like us—is indeed remarkable. In the second video, physicist Paul Davies echoes this sentiment but he believes human life likely isn’t special but instead is somehow inevitable. Like Walker, Davies thinks we should be looking for the sort of technology that intelligent beings beyond might develop. Instead of seeing life as the product of a Creator, or a freak accident, Davies suggest that it is somehow fundamental to existence.
There’s no way around it, it is amazing that we are the sort of beings who can reflect on our own existence and on the unique qualities of our little planet to host beings such as us. Davies, though an unbeliever, once remarked it looks like “a super- intellect has monkeyed with physics.” Could this all be the product of a freak accident? Might life be inevitable apart from any sort of Creator? Or is human life precious and purposeful as described in the Bible? Whatever your answer is to such questions, however you define life, has massive implications for everything else.