For us humans the question of the temporal end of our existence is of great importance. The answer that faith seeks is not the task and goal of this book, but the rational answer.
The author remains on the ground of science and soberly examines how far we can reveal the mystery of the temporal end and answer the question from the scientific facts and from the standpoint of logical thinking: Is there life after life?
But what can science contribute to a subject that is otherwise occupied by philosophy and the various faiths?
The answer is: very much! For in natural science there are the extremely strange phenomena of quantum physics, which, despite their oddity, have the potential to shed light on those areas that philosophy has not yet been able to illuminate.
In the end, there is confidence and the light of knowledge about the liberation of consciousness from the shackles of time.
The natural scientist Dipl.-Math. Klaus-Dieter Sedlacek, born in 1948, studied mathematics, computer science and physics in Stuttgart. After twenty-five years of professional experience in his own company, he now devotes himself to his private research projects and publishes the results in a generally understandable form. He is also the editor of several book series, including the series "Wissenschaftliche Bibliothek" and "Wissen gemeinverständlich".
3. The Life
What is life1? We ask this question first.
Life is a natural phenomenon, it belongs to nature, - about this there is not the slightest doubt at first. But if this is the case, then we find ourselves on the ground of natural science with the question of life. And she must be able to help us answer the question.
A look into nature and at the bodies and figures that compose it immediately shows us that we have to distinguish between these two large groups: Unanimated and living natural bodies. To those belong stones, rocks, earth, water, air, - to those plants, animals, people. To the unbiased observer this dichotomy seems self-evident.
But is it justified and what does it mean?
From the so-called monism2 one has denied that one has to make such a distinction between the inanimate and the living and has claimed that the living is only a special form of the inanimate. The starting point was the philosophical endeavour to attribute everything real to a single principle, an endeavour which, however justified it may be in itself, must not influence us in such a way that we view nature with bias. - So we want to keep ourselves free of it on our way to the knowledge of life and the temporal end.
Let us first try to dissect the inanimate.
The inanimate consists of material substances of various kinds and is characterized by certain properties. If we observe the behaviour of this matter, we see that it is subject to constant change. Yes, on closer inspection we find that all events in nature are basically nothing more than a continuous change of matter, but that this change is ultimately based on the interaction of the various material substances of the world.
The water of the streams and seas becomes vaporous through interaction with the temperature conditions of the air and rises into the air as mist, conglomerates here in clouds and becomes solid through cold air currents, falls down as snow, which melts on the warm ground and becomes water again, etc.
The hard rock becomes crumbly and chemically altered by the interaction with the factors of its environment (air and water), finally it disintegrates into arable earth, the material substances of which are transferred to the plant through the life process of the plant, and from the plant often into animals and humans. When their body later decays, its substances are again decomposed and are again transferred to the substances of the earth.
In the same way, we could dissect what is happening in the whole world of material matter, everywhere we would discover sequences of such changes and interactions, work performances or energies, as we call it scientifically. If the substance itself changes during the processes in question, e.g. iron changes into brown rust during rusting, then this is a chemical work performance, but if only the state changes, but not the substance itself, e.g. when the iron is magnetized, when the water becomes steamy, etc., then we speak of physical energies.
It is a very significant result of modern natural science that all natural phenomena occur in material substances and that all changes in substances can be traced back to chemical and physical energies.
It is irrelevant for our present purpose to pursue this further in detail, but the following is extremely important: Energy or work performance can always be measured.
As far as measurable, we are completely in the field of inanimate matter and its energies and thus in the field of chemistry and physics.
And another one! If we follow the transformations of energies and matter more closely, we come across a highly significant fundamental law of inanimate nature in classical physics3, which is During all transformations of material substances in a closed system, the mass of matter remains constant and the sum of energies remains unchanged.
If we follow any changes in certain substances, we make the surprising discovery that neither substance nor energy is lost or newly created. Substance and energy are changeable, but indestructible.
If, for example, any substance burns, it combines with the oxygen in the air as a result of chemical energy. Precise weight measurements have shown that the total mass of all substances involved in the process is the same before and after, no matter how profoundly they have been changed.
So if you weigh the material to be burned together with the oxygen available to it and then weigh all the combustion products again after combustion, we get the same number. Thus, nothing was lost in substance (in mass) during combustion.
And it is the same in all other cases, including physical processes, e.g. when movement is converted into electrical energy and this is converted into light, etc.
So these energies can always be measured, and therefore, for example, electric current and electric light can be sold like a commodity, which would be completely impossible if there was no measurability.
With the measurability of energies we are, as already mentioned, in the area of inanimate matter.
Is there now another characteristic of these phenomena of the substance? The continued observation of world events, however, reveals another very important one. It has been shown that the same causes have the same effects. Where the same conditions meet, the success is always the same.
For example: Wherever in the world hydrogen burns, water is created, wherever a corresponding temperature is applied to water, it becomes solid or vaporous, etc. And these processes also always take place according to very specific measurable conditions. Because the same phenomena also always have the same effects, therefore world events give us the impression of necessity, of regularity, and this regularity is the further unmistakable characteristic of phenomena in the field of inanimate matter.
What about the living now?
First of all, it must be said that life too is always bound to matter. We don't know it any other way. And this matter has the same chemical and physical properties as in inanimate nature. Of course, it is after all a special material substance.
All living beings are composed of cells, but cells are lumps of so-called protoplasm with a cell nucleus. Chemically, the protoplasm consists mainly of proteins. These now do not exist outside of living beings in nature. Wherever we find them, we can conclude with certainty that they originate from living beings. But these proteins are made up of the same basic materials that make up the substances of the inanimate world.
But protoplasm is not completely synonymous with protein. Its peculiarity is that it is organized, that is, it has a special peculiar construction. In order to understand this, we need to look at something else first.
A drop of water can undergo the most diverse changes, become steamy, become solid, or even be broken down by the electric current into its basic materials, hydrogen and oxygen. It is then always possible to reconstitute it, even from the basic materials. So he is indestructible in some ways. And it is the same with all other inanimate natural bodies.
In contrast to this life is a temporary phenomenon and every living being without exception approaches its temporal end and when it is dead then according to the present state of science it is impossible to recall it back to the living state. A borderline case of this rule are the experiments of the American biochemist Craig Venter, who was the first to succeed in producing a genetic material himself and implanting it into a cell, thus creating a viable bacterium.4
Fig. 3.1: Characteristics of a living system. Graphic: Sedlacek
Nevertheless, the certainty that life is something other than the dead state arises. Every death proves it with compelling certainty.
It is now also the case that every living creature is constantly exposed to the danger of death. In order to escape the end of its temporal existence, it must constantly carry out a series of actions, i.e. processes, which have the very purpose of sustaining life: It must move, it must feed itself, it must respond to harmful stimuli appropriately and protect itself. And since every living being must die one day, it must reproduce and produce offspring beforehand, if all life on earth is not to disappear in a short time (see Fig. 3.1).
Incidentally, a process is defined as the totality of interacting procedures in a system by which matter, energy or information is transformed, transported or stored.
So these are the processes of life, and we cannot discover anything like this in any inanimate natural body. Wherever one believes it, it happens under revaluations and reinterpretations of fixed terms, which are made for the sake of other philosophical views.
So the processes of life always take place in such a way that they serve to preserve life, and that is why they are called purposeful. And you will not find such practicality anywhere in inanimate nature. There is no point at all in opposing this word, as is actually happening from some quarters. Because then you would have to find another word for it, such as "useful" or "needy".
The result, however, always remains the same: that there is no such thing in inanimate nature....