Life does not exist

Abioism (life does not exist)
Two examples of light sensitive carbon-based animate molecules: human (or human molecule) and retinal (or retinal molecule), the latter NOT conceptualized as either alive nor dead nor in possession of “life” (nor afterlife nor prelife), whereas the former is, owing to historically outdated models of humans—both, however, unified in the conclusion that life does not exist (disabused by Thims in 2009), in the same sense that ether does not exist (disabused by Einstein in 1905) or caloric does not exist (disabused by Rumford in 1798). The term "abioism" is the reasoned belief or conclusion that "life" does not exist.
In non-existences, life does not exist refers to premise and or conclusion that "life", akin to ether, caloric, or perpetual motion, is something that does not exist; an ingrained, generally, religio-mythology and or anthropomorphic based fiction, akin to the false perception that the sun goes around the earth. The newly-coined term "abioism" (Thims, 2015) is the belief that life does not exist.

Early views
The history of the precursory teetering-around-the-subject of the possibility that the divide between life and non-life may be fictional, questionable, and or filled with absurdities, are well-documented on the: defunct theory of life page.

In 1925, Alfred Lotka, in his "Regarding Definitions", stated very cogently that someday the term "life" would disappear from the exact sciences, per reason that the scientific search for the origin of life is a hunt for a Jabberwock.

In 1938, English physiologist Charles Sherrington, in his lecture turned book “Man on his Nature” pointed out the puzzling fact that “life” and “death” are anthropisms, not recognized by physics and chemistry, and therein set out to exhaustively ridicule the issue as being but a “groundless” convention, in need of cleaning.

In 1966, English geneticist Francis Crick, in his Feb-Mar University of Washington lectures "Is Vitalism Dead" lectures turned Of Molecules and Men book suggested we should “abandon the word alive”.

In 1948, Hungarian bioenergetics physiologist Albert Szent-Gyorgyi in his Nature of Life: a Study of the Muscle, stated the following—which seems to be the first mention of this view—in his chapter section on colloidal chemical considerations: [5]

“The biologist wants to understand life, but life, as such, does not exist: nobody has ever seen it. What we call ‘life’ is a certain quality, the sum of certain reactions of systems of matter, as the smile is the quality or reaction of the lips.”

In 1972, Szent-Gyorgyi, in his The Living State, opens to the following paragraph: [6]

“Every biologist has at some time asked ‘what is life?’ and none has ever given a satisfactory answer. Science is built on the premise that nature answers intelligent questions intelligently; so if no answer exists, there must be something wrong with the question. Life, as such, does not exist. What we can see and measure are material systems which have the wonderful quality of ‘being alive’. What we can ask more hopefully is ‘what are the properties which bring matter to life? Though I do not know what life is, I have no doubt as to whether my dog is alive or dead. Life is a paradox. It is easy to understand why man always divided his world into ‘animate’ and ‘inanimate’, anima meaning soul, the presence of which had to explain queer behavior. The most basic rule of inanimate nature is that it tends toward equilibrium which is at the maximum of entropy and the minimum of free energy. As shown so delightfully by Schrodinger in his little book What is Life? (1945), the main characteristic of life is that it tends to decrease its entropy. It also tends to increase its free energy.”

In 1972, Szent-Gyorgyi, in his chapter contribution “What is Life?”, stated the following: [7]

“In my search for the secret of life, I ended up with atoms and electrons, which have no life at all. Somewhere along the lines, life has run out through my fingers. So, in my old age, I am now retracing my steps [back to the cell].”

Szent-Gyorgyi, goes on, at this point, to state that “life is not a thing to be studied: rather, ‘being alive’ is a quality of some physical systems.” [7] This last fingers quote, to note, has been taking up recently by the “spirituality” and metaphysical theorists, as a basis to argue, e.g., for Vedic-based spirit theory (Ѻ), astral spirit-based active principles (Ѻ), and or paranormal ideas. (Ѻ)

When does life begin (labeled)
Top: an image from Asim Kurjak and J.M. Carrera’s 2006 chapter “The Beginning of Human Life”, wherein Albert Szent-Gyorgyi’s 1940s “life, as such, does not exist” statement is cited, as a platform to digress on possible legal and religious implications of the fetus. [10] Bottom:a 1993 article snippet, in Liberty: a Magazine of Religious Freedom, citing Szent-Gyorgyi’s startling statement: “life, as such, does not exist”. [9]
In 1978, Szent-Gyorgyi, in his symposium article “The Living State and Cancer”, was opening to the same “life, as such, does not exist” idiom, in regards to the question of what is life?, but quickly parlays the issue off to the assertion that the conceptual dualistic divide of the world between animate and inanimate or alive and not-alive is solved by reference to what he calls a “living state” which he describes as a “special physicochemical state, a state which can be described in terms of exact sciences, and has to fit into the great order of the universe, having been created by the same forces as the universe itself.” Here, after continuing with the statement that “we must search for an understanding and an answer to our question with a wide natural philosophical outlook and fit life into the great scheme of creation”, it would seem, possibly, that Szent-Gyorgyi is venturing into religious-framed talk (check). [8]

A citation from 1993 article, from a religious magazine article—the implication of the possibility that life does not exist has great implications for religious belief—is as follows: [9]

“Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, the Nobel laureate discoverer of Vitamin C, startled his readers when he wrote: ‘Life, as such, does not exist.’ He explained: ‘What we can see and measure are material systems which have the wonderful quality of...”

In 2006, authors Asim Kurjak and J.M. Carrera, in their chapter “The Beginning of Human Life: Scientific and Religious Controversies”, section: “The Definition of Life”, in their Textbook of Perinatal Medicine, state the following: [10]

“Some authors say that life as such does not exist—no one has ever seen it. Szent-Gyorgyi says that the noun ‘life’ has no significance because there is no such thing as ‘life’. Le Dantez holds that the expression ‘to live’ is too general, and that it is better to say that a dog ‘dogs’ or a fish ‘fishes’ than a ‘dog or a fish lives’.”

Kurjak argues that Szent-Gyorgyi's position may have possible implications on the so-called "legal" rights of an embryo, such as depicted adjacent.

In 1999, French biophysicist, bioethicist, and philosopher Henri Atlan, in his “Does Life Exist?”, opens to the following: [2]

“Already at the beginning of the twentieth century, Albert Szent-Gyorgyi, who discovered vitamin C, scandalously declared that life does not exist. Following upon this ‘good news’ announced by Szent-Gyorgyi, my entire approach consists in putting a few more nails in the coffin—and in recognizing, in effect that life does not exist as such, at least not as an object of scientific investigation, since its mechanisms can be entirely reduced to chemical interactions.”

In 2002, Atlan, in his “Is Science Inhuman? An Essay on Free Necessity”, elaborated further on the problems involved in speaking about “life” in an essential fashion, e.g. claiming that the genome contains the “essence of life”, repeatedly quoted Szent-Gyorgyi’s claim that “life as such does not exist”, which he interprets to mean that: [3]

Life does not exist as an explicative notion of organic properties … life does not exist as an object of biological research.”

Atlan also states:

“When Szent-Gyorgyi made the somewhat abrupt declaration: “life as such does not exist”, in all likelihood he was not doubting his daily experience. I do not think I betray him in thus clarifying his words: life does not exist as an explicative notion of organic properties. I other words, life does not exist as an object of biological research.”

Meaning that, in the context of bioethics, as his collected works (2011) editors Stefanos Geroulanos and Todd Meyers summarize, “any thinking of the living cannot maintain its rigor if it postulates life as an essentialist notion” .
Life does not exist (Thims, 2015)
A 2015 Yahoo Answers query (Ѻ) about Thims’ version of the “life does not exist” view; found by Thims while key term searching, on 18 Apr 2016, for “Libb Thims, atheist”, after watching the 2015 Dave Rubin interview (Ѻ) of Sarah Haider, and adding her to the top 200 atheists list (#146).

In 2009, American electrochemical engineer Libb Thims, after having begun grappling with the life/non-life demarcation problem in circa 2006 to 2007, classified “life” as a defunct scientific theory (see: defunct theory of life), as follows, in his communication to Russian physical chemist Georgi Gladyshev on his false assertion that "thermodynamics mandates life": [1]

“You agree with me that the single atom is not alive. What about two atoms? What about three? Does a bound state of atoms have to have a certain movement to be considered alive? What if we heat a system of four atoms, do they suddenly become alive? What if we subject a system of atoms to both gravitational and electromagnetic forces, does that suddenly make them alive? What if the two forces act to move smaller atoms through the cavities of larger atoms [molecules] on a cyclical basis, thus activating reactions [metabolism] in the process, does that make them alive? What if the two forces begin to arrange the atoms into hierarchies, and that smaller atoms and bundles of atoms begin to more between the hierarchies, does that make them alive? What if a structure of atoms, begin to turnover their internal atoms, with those of the surrounding space, on a cyclical basis, does that make it alive? It should be very obvious that no matter how many atoms one adds to the argument that an atom or a structure made of two or more atoms cannot be alive.”

Thereafter Thims began to implement life terminology upgrades, in his own work and in Hmolpedia articles, and restrict both origin of life thermodynamic and life theory arguing submissions to the Journal of Human Thermodynamics, so much so that by 2013 editorial redaction processing had completely gummed up the entire journal, bring the publication process to a halt.
Alfred Rogers (2016) explaining his 1990s arrived at view that "life does not exist", which he popularizes on his 2010 launched website.

In 2010, American thinker Alfred Rogers registered the domain LifeDoesNotExist.comExternal link icon (c), and therein became active, according to web archives, in 2012 or 2013, with a page collection of 18 topic sections, starting with his current view on the non-existence of life, to his 1956 (age 23) deconversion from Christianity to a new non-supernatural belief system based philosophy. A truncation of the main points of Roger’s “life does not exist” section is as follows: [2]

Life does not exist in the sense that life is not absolutely different from non-life. The difference between life and non-life is like the difference between plants and animals. A recent article in the proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences reported that bacteria locked in Antarctic ice for 100,000 to 8-million years resumed growing when given warmth and nutrients. Could they have been alive for all that time? Could any life processes been going on for that period? If not, can a living thing spend an intermittent part of its life as a non-living thing? I think this is incongruous with life and non-life being absolutely different. During the frozen period all the conditions for life, including the DNA existed, but life did not exist. More commonly many seeds remain viable for many years under certain conditions. They go through a life cycle in part of which they are not alive. Can a living thing be not alive during part of its life?”

Rogers goes on to discuss how the various dividing line between living and non-living are “vague and inconsistent”, viruses and “wet artificial life” being two examples, then cites Ray Kurzweil and reverse engineer computer ideas, which leads him to the conclusion that “life and non-life are indistinguishable”. Rogers then jumps to the following sharp argument, wherein he basically says we call ourselves “alive” because we are ignorant as to the chemical details of the life cycle (reaction cycle) as compared to better understood cycles, such as geyser cycles or mountain formation dynamics, which we do not consider to be alive:

“I believe our conception of what is living and what is not living has been based primarily on time and complexity. A mountain range may be considered to have a life cycle. It grows from relatively flat land to gigantic peaks, then returns again to near flatness. In the life time of man however nothing noticeable happens. The process takes hundreds of millions of years. Man has never conceived of a mountain range as living. Pre-civilized men have probably thought “Old Faithful”, the erupting hot spring to be alive because it shows dramatic movement, seemingly of its own volition. We have not considered this to be alive because we understand exactly how this happens. We have difficulty understanding how what we would now consider a chemical reaction could have evolved into the complete human writing this sentence because we are incapable of understanding the immense amount of time it took this to happen.”
Both Types of "Movement" neither of which are "alive".
Old Faithful and Paramecium (video still)
“There is no essential difference between ‘life’ and ‘non-life.’ The perceived difference is complexity. Old Faithful (Ѻ) has ‘life-like’ movement but is easier to understand than a paramecium (Ѻ). The hydrogen atom is NOT alive.”
Alfred Rogers (2014), curator of, “Email communication to Libb Thims”, Nov 21

In Roger’s “chemical reaction could have evolved into the complete human writing this sentence”, we are reminded of Gilbert Lewis’ 1925 query statement about whether him writing his book was but part of an evolving chemical reaction process or conversely whether crystals think:

“Suppose that this hypothetical experiment could be realized, which seems not unlikely, and suppose we could discover a whole chain of phenomena [evolution timeline], leading by imperceptible gradations form the simplest chemical molecule to the most highly developed organism [human molecule]. Would we then say that my preparation of this volume [Anatomy of Science] is only a chemical reaction [extrapolate up], or, conversely that a crystal is thinking [extrapolate down] about the concepts of science?”

Rogers continues:

“The process by which lipid bi-layers formed phospholipids spontaneously into a cell membrane under conditions existing on early earth are not yet understood, but this would have happened 3.5 to 4 billion years ago. But even if the life cycle of these living things were a whole day there would have been 365 million cycles in only a million years, or 3.5 to 4 thousand times 365 million cycles until now. The tiniest random change would produce the complex single celled organisms we see today and similar random changes have converted the first multi-cellular animals to us.”

Rogers here is relegating the problem to 3.5-billion years ago to some cellular formation mechanism, occurring via spontaneity and change; a point that Thims, to note, was stuck at for some time (2007-2009) in mindset, and that Ferris Jabr (below) seems to refer to as "Frankensteinian spark" ideology. But, as Sherrington aptly pointed out, the belief that “spontaneous movement equals life” is something deeply ingrained in the minds of people, but one that is a false dichotomy:

“Deep down among human intuitions is one that spontaneous movement means life. Our kith and kin among the animals entertain it as well as we, though for them ‘life’ is, of course, an unconceptualized thought. We know from ourselves that the indirect field of sight will see what moves when it fails to see what does not move. Our horse may shy at a blown leaf on the roadway, not at a still one. The frog snaps at a fly that moves, but not at one which is still. The vine-tendril never lives so vividly as when at the cinema its clasping speeded into visible movement. When the cardboard puppet dances it becomes thinkably alive, and Don Quixote’s irruption at the puppet-theater becomes intelligible. The biologist knows this intuitive inference as native, even to a primitive mind. Movement accepted as spontaneous implies living. And the motion of the planets seemed to be spontaneous. Their movement told men that they were alive. All stars might be alive, but of them all the planets most so. The other stars were ‘fixed’, that is, relatively to each other did not move.”

Spontaneity, in modern terms, to upgrade Sherrington's decisive remarks, is gauged via free energy differentials; hence, to demarcate a certain reaction mechanism, conceived to have occurred 3.5-billion years ago, as being of some delineating significance, as per free energy differentials are concerned, is but a fiction of the mind. Rogers then concludes with a short digression on the implications of values in respect to this new point of view:

“If life does not exist, if the difference between life and non-life is only complexity, what about the value of human life? Is destroying human life no different than destroying a non-living object? No. If the last Stradivarius violin were to be identified we would value and protect it and care for it, because it would be something we could never replace. This is true of every human. Each of us is the result of a unique combination of DNA that cannot be replaced. Strangely, denying the existence of life would not change moral conceptions of valuing human life (and perhaps other life as well).”

This last interjection is in need of cleaning, but nevertheless a good starting point. Roger’s “Is destroying human life no different than destroying a non-living object?”, e.g., brings to mind powerful questions, such as: rights to abortion (fetus rights vs material rights), artificial life prolongment of brain dead people questions, of physician assisted suicide morality, stem cell research ethics, death sentence legislation, among many others.
Powered animation (Cat vs K'Nex)
American science journalist Ferris Jabr (2013) sees believes that his cat is not alive (compare: Schrodinger's cat), being that "life" is an invented concept, albeit one that does not hold up in the face of a world made of atoms and collections of atoms, whether animate or not, such as a moving cat or a moving K'Nex set. [1]

In 2013, American science journalist Ferris Jabr published a Scientific American blog article “Why Life Does Not Really Exist”, wherein he begins argue that life is an invented concept and that arrangements of atoms cannot “suddenly become alive”, therein concluding that “life does not actually exist.” [3]

“Why is defining life so frustratingly difficult? Why have scientists and philosophers failed for centuries to find a specific physical property or set of properties that clearly separates the living from the inanimate? Because such a property does not exist. Life is a concept that we invented. On the most fundamental level, all matter that exists is an arrangement of atoms and their constituent particles. These arrangements fall onto an immense spectrum of complexity, from a single hydrogen atom to something as intricate as a brain. In trying to define life, we have drawn a line at an arbitrary level of complexity and declared that everything above that border is alive and everything below it is not. In truth, this division does not exist outside the mind. There is no threshold at which a collection of atoms suddenly becomes alive, no categorical distinction between the living and inanimate, no Frankensteinian spark. We have failed to define life because there was never anything to define in the first place.”

In 2014, Jabr followed this up with his New York Times opinion editorial article “Why Nothing is Truly Alive”, arguing along the same lines. [4]

See also
Chemical teleology
Defunct theory of life
Life terminology upgrades
Sociology terminology upgrades
Crick on alive
The discerning 1966 words of Francis Crick, who following vitalism debates with Michael Polanyi, and others, suggested: we should abandon the word "alive".

1. (a) Thims, Libb. (2007). Human Chemistry (Volume One) (life: difficulties on term, pgs. 130-31). Morrisville, NC: LuLu.
(b) Thims, Libb. (2009). “Letter: Life a Defunct Scientific Theory”, Journal of Human Thermodynamics, Vol. 5, pgs. 20-21.
2. (a) Rogers, Alfred. (2010). Domain:, GoDaddy registered, Sep 28; WayBack (Ѻ) crawled 20 Aug 2013 .
(b) Main –
(c) – Wayback Machine.
3. Jabr, Ferris. (2013). “Why Life Does Not Really Exist”, Scientific American, Brainwaves Blog, Dec 2.
4. Jabr, Ferris. (2014). “Why Nothing is Truly Alive”, New York Times, Opinion Pages, Mar 12.
5. Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. (1948). Nature of Life: a Study of the Muscle (pg. 9). Academic Press.
6. Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. (1972). The Living State: with Observations on Cancer (pgs. 1-2). Elsevier.
7. Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. (1972). “What is Life?”, in: The Physical Basis of Life (fingers, pgs. x, 5; life is not a thing, pgs. vii, x). CRM Books.
8. Szent-Gyorgyi, Albert. (1978). “The Living State and Cancer”, Symposium on Submolecular Biology and Cancer”, Sep 25-27, Ciba Foundation, London; in: Submolecular Biology and Cancer (§1: 3-19). Wiley, 2009.
9. Author. (1993). “Article”, Liberty: a Magazine of Religious Freedom, Volumes 86-88 (pg. 6). Seventh-Day Adventists.
10. (a) Kurjak, Asim. (1992). “When does human life begin?”, Encyclopedia Moderna, (383-90). Publisher.
(b) Kurjak, Asim. (2006). “The Beginning of Human Life: Scientific and Religious Controversies”, in: Textbook of Perinatal Medicine (editors: Asim Kurjak, Frank A. Chervenak) (§16:164-79). CRC.
11. Atlan, Henri. (2002). “Is Science Inhuman? An Essay on Free Necessity”, in: Selected Writings on Self-Organization, Philosophy, Bioethics, and Judaism (translator: Daniela Ginsburg) (§1:32-62; esp. 29, 36). Fordham University Press, 2011.

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