[Advaita-l] Concept of Soul

Mahesh Ursekar mahesh.ursekar at gmail.com
Thu Aug 23 10:22:05 CDT 2007


I reproduce from my link, the steps and challanges that scientists forsee in
this quest which I think (at least partially) address your points:

Bedau figures there are three major hurdles to creating synthetic life:

a) A container, or membrane, for the cell to keep bad molecules out, allow
good ones, and the ability to multiply.
b) A genetic system that controls the functions of the cell, enabling it to
reproduce and mutate in response to environmental changes.
c) A metabolism that extracts raw materials from the environment as food and
then changes it into energy.

One of the leaders in the field, Jack Szostak at Harvard Medical School,
predicts that within the next six months, scientists will report evidence
that the first step — creating a cell membrane — is "not a big problem."
Scientists are using fatty acids in that effort.

Szostak is also optimistic about the next step — getting nucleotides, the
building blocks of DNA, to form a working genetic system.
His idea is that once the container is made, if scientists add nucleotides
in the right proportions, then Darwinian evolution could simply take over.

The difference, as I see, in the above technique (from previous methods like
IVF, cloning, etc) is that they are building the cell ground up. All other
techniques aimed to create life from (some form of) life while this method
starts from matter alone. Another point I wish to make is that this claim is
made by scientists from Harvard Medical (among others) and  hence can be
taken seriously.

Thanks, Mahesh

On 8/23/07, Sundaresan, Vidyasankar (GE Infra, Water) <
vidyasankar.sundaresan at ge.com> wrote:
> >The theory that, after the death of a human being, there exists an
> entity
> >called the soul that persists and continues to take a new birth. If we
> >create life using chemicals in a laboratory, it appears that the human
> being
> >is nothing but matter and after death the result is "ashes to ashes,
> dust to
> >dust".
> The "if" is a tall order, indeed. Creating life using chemicals in a
> laboratory means that a scientist will have to
> A. synthesize every single DNA/RNA molecule, including every nucleotide
> that goes into DNA/RNA,a
> B. synthesize every single enzyme needed for DNA/RNA function, including
> every amino acid that goes into each enzyme,
> C. create every single molecule of the cell contents (sugars, fats,
> antibodies, chromatin, collagen etc.) chemically,
> D. create the entire cell wall and membrane chemically,
> E. put all these together and make a viable cell,
> F. cause this entirely artifically synthesized cell to multiply,
> G. cause the resultant mass of cells to properly differentiate,
> H. develop these into an organism in vitro
> All these major steps and all intermediate steps involved should be done
> in test tubes, not inside another living organism. For example, a
> denucleated cell from an organism cannot be used, nor can DNA extracted
> from an organism be used. And enzymes extracted directly from organisms
> or expressed in bacterial cultures cannot be used. Only if all these
> conditions are met and the resultant organism grows into a functioning
> adult can life be said to have been created using chemicals in a
> laboratory.
> None of the current scientific techniques for cloning, parthenogenesis,
> in-vitro fertilization, etc. qualify for being seen as creating life in
> a laboratory using chemicals. They all rely on previously existing life.
> The theoretical possibility of creating life has always existed, no
> matter what the state of scientific knowledge has been. After all, there
> was a time when people thought insects spontaneously appeared from
> trash. It is well accepted now that nobody can succeed in creating new
> matter without recycling old matter and nobody can succeed in creating
> new energy without redistributing existing energy. However, when it
> comes to life, there is a suspicion that somehow, some day, someone will
> create new life from something that is not life. It is not borne out by
> the scientific evidence so far, leave alone philosophical
> considerations. Suffice it to say, we do not understand life and
> consciousness well at all.
> Regards,
> Vidyasankar
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