What, Exactly, Is Life?

What is life? What is awareness? What is conscience*? Or, more to the point, what makes something alive and conscious? Science still has no answers for these questions.

• Life is a miracle – and a mystery. Science cannot penetrate further than its apparent characteristics and phenomena.

• Life is not a tangible entity that can be touched or observed under a microscope. Rather, life is invisible; only its manifestations can be seen. The scope of science is limited to natural, physical realities. Science is only able to recognize life or its absence. It can only explain the biological processes that relate to life, list its characteristics, or describe its phenomena and mechanisms, but it cannot define life, or explain why something is alive, or how life is given to any organism.

• The most complex and outstanding organ on planet earth is the human brain. A human brain weighs only 1.5 kg and contains roughly 86 billion neurons. Cognition, movement, behavior, character traits, thoughts, emotions, decisions, and vital body functions originate in the brain. How does the brain make this happen? In other words, how does the brain make a person a human being? How does it determine who a person is as a human being? Do these activities which constitute life just rise from chemical and biological processes and complex firing of neurons across the brain? Is this sufficient explanation?

• According to the Qur’an, life is created, given, and supplied by God. Life itself, or the essence of life, is inaccessible to human knowledge. God made it so and declared it so. It is a realm that belongs only to God as stated in the Qur’an:

“They ask you about the Rouh (spirit or life in any being). Say: ‘The Rouh is one of the things, the knowledge of which is only with my Lord. And of knowledge, you (humankind) have been granted but little.’” 

(Qur’an 17:85)

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