Life force

Life force (beliefs) labeled
A 2000 Gallup International Polling which shows that about 30 percent of the world believes in the existence of a spirit and or life force; whereas 45 percent believe in a personal god, 17 percent are undecided, and 8 percent do not believe in either God, spirit, or life force. [2]
In science, life force, living force or “vital force”, is a now-defunct theory which poses that what distinguishes life or living things is a special type of force distinct from the standard fundamental forces of physics.

Overview
In 1842, the chiefs of the Helmholtz school, via their blood pact Reymond-Brucke oath, vowed to banish all vital or living force theories from their reasoning:

“[We pledge] to put in power this truth: no other forces than the common physical chemical ones are active within the organism. In those cases which cannot at the time be explained by these forces one has either to find a specific way or form of their action by means of physical mathematical method, or to assume new forces equal in dignity to the chemical physical forces inherent in matter, reducible to the force of attraction and repulsion.”

was to banish the notion of the “other forces” from the so-called “life sciences” maintaining that no other forces operate within the organism other than the physical chemical forces. The above quote is pretty much the modern view as most hardened scientists see things; the central problem remaining is the issue that arises when one goes searching for the exact second of the start of the “origin of life” in physical-chemical terms, in particular chemical thermodynamic terms, after which one is lead into the “defunct theory of life” point of view.

In 1895, University of Oxford Chancellor Robert Cecil gave the following summary of the chemical nature of life from his BAAS inaugural address “Unsolved Problems in Science”, wherein he gives the modern outline of the vital force notion: [1]

“A more striking problem which the highest scientific intellects have been investigating is lifeanimal life and vegetable life—the action of an unknown force on ordinary matter. What is the mysterious impulse which is able to strike across the ordinary laws of matter, and twist them for a moment from their path? Some people demur to the use of the term ‘vital force’ to designate this impulse. In their view the existence of such a force is negatived by the fact chemists have been able by cunning substitutions to produce artificially the peculiar compounds which in nature are only found in organisms that are or have been living.”

The mention of chemically-produced life-made compounds here seems to be a passing mention to the famous urea synthesis by Friedrich Wöhler in 1828.

Religion
The notion of "life force" is closely intertwined with religion and world belief systems. The following, to exemplify, are 2005 global beliefs in either God (purple), spirit and or life force (light blue), and non-belief in any sort of "spirit, God, or life force" (yellow), showing France (home to the Ecole Polytechnique and the Napoleon Laplace anecdote) in the lead for having the most informed populous, in regards to reality:

Religious beliefs (by country) (new2)

See also
Elan vital

References
1. Cecil, Robert. (1895). “Unsolved Problems in Science”, The Popular Science Monthly (pg. 41). D. Appleton and Co.
2. Religion in the World (2000) – Gallup International Millennium Survey.

Further reading
● Hunter, Graeme K. (2000). Vital Forces: the Discovery of the Molecular Basis of Life. Academic Press.

External links
Life force – Wikipedia.

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