“What is the difference between a tree and a lamp post?“
Meeting unsuspecting folk on the street on my ramblings around the UK, this is my classic line. Why do I ask? Because it’s actually very difficult to answer, and it shows how easily we can become habituated to the environment around us, perceiving everything as ordinary, whereas the truth is potentially very different.
So, what is the difference between a tree and a lamp post?
Well, both are composed of atoms, arranged in different ways…but one is alive and the other is deed (as my Glasgwegian buddies might say). Brown breed…well, technically a lamp post isn’t actually dead, because it was never alive (please refer to ‘Brain Dead’ post) . Life stuff is born, grows, replicates, gets old, dies. Boom. So do you, so do I.
As you can see, we’re in a bit of a pickle with this one, leaving us with an interesting predicament…
“How is life ‘happening’, seeing as inanimate things that were never alive are composed from the same building blocks…atoms?”
Imagine making a lego tree and a lego lamp post; they would obviously be made up of different shapes and colours. Similarly, the difference between our body or that of a tree, and an abiotic thing like a lamp post, is that atoms are arranged differently. Just as you wouldn’t expect a lego tree to come alive and start growing, equally, how can we explain life springing out of seemingly nowhere?
If you’ve read this far…well done! And it is turning into quite a hefty piece. So I’m going to split it into 4 separate articles, to discuss the main explanations given for the possible cause of life:
1. Lego life (‘Kinder surprise‘ philosophy)
2. It’s all in the DNA (‘Linguistic malfunction‘ philosophy)
3. I’m alive (‘Don’t speak too loud Doreen, the radiator’s listening in‘ philosophy)
4. Atoms aren’t alive…we’re missing an ingredient (‘Dave, you’re not your car‘ philosophy)
“Simplicity is not a simple thing” — Charlie Chaplin