Science tries to put everything in well-separated categories.
Nature however does not seem to care about this. It does not separate in a clear-cut way things that are close to each other; there are so-called transitory forms as well.
In the language of mathematics this means that there is a two-variable continuous function in which the value of the dependent variable assumes a low value between two high values. This is reality.
Science substitutes given independent-variable stages of this reality with a two-stage digital function, between the two platforms of which there is no continuous transition. Instead, there is a leap from one to the other.
Then science wonders why this does not work perfectly, and especially so in the case of transitory forms. It does not understand why they do not fit into this nice and regular system.
Take for example the picture called Three Mountains. It shows mountains, some higher, some lower. Science however wants ‘order’, and therefore it says there are mountains and valleys here. Between two mountains, a valley. A mountain is where the height increases up to a certain maximum, and a valley, where the height decreases to a certain minimum. Moreover in the case of the maximum the value must be higher than in that of the minimum. The situation is however not so clear cut in the picture. In one case, the minimum is higher than the maximum close to it. In another, the increase is slightly broken, there is some decline and then the increase continues. And what if, due, say, to a landslide, what was a valley gets filled up to such an extent that it will lie higher than the top of the hitherto higher mountain situated next to it?
It is because of this, in my view naive, idea that attempts to determine the borderline between non-living and living fail. The reason for this is that there is no strict borderline between the two.
There has never existed a thing that turned, through the effect of some event, from non-living to living overnight. It was a sequence of changes consisting of a number of small steps that led from what is called non-living in an arbitrary system to what is called living in the same system.
One therefore should not look for a non-existent perfect, true-for-everything separation of non-living and living.
It is of course possible, and necessary, to set up two categories, one called non-living, the other, living and put in each what is certain to belong there. It is important to know however that this is not reality, only an artificial system that approaches reality. Also important to know is where this near- reality can be applied and where it cannot.
Until science accepts this, its only ‘achievement’ in this respect will be what the following joke says about Marxism: “It claims that in a dark room it caught a cat that wasn’t even there”.
Dr. Endre Simony