What’s Missing from Our List?
“Our failure to put the ingredients of life together and obtain anything living suggests something must be missing from our list. Perhaps we should start by examining why the mechanist/reductionist approach has failed to tackle life’s fundamental questions: there is a paradox that lies at the heart of the reductionist approach to biology. As one dissects the workings of any living creature, examining the detail of smaller and smaller components…life itself seems to vanish before our eyes. Whilst we have no difficulty in recognizing life in a whole animal, or indeed in one of its cells; when we come to looking at the cell’s insides, the question seems to evaporate. Is a chromosome alive, or a protein, or an enzyme? The question seems to lose its relevance when applied to these bits of life. The components of living cells, stripped of context, seems fundamentally no different to inanimate chemical systems. Life seems to emerge only at higher levels. It is, to use modern jargon, an emergent phenomena: one that cannot be entirely understood in terms of its parts. As a means to explaining life, the unrelenting reductionist approach is doomed to failure.”