Is Life Purely a Condition of Material Energy?

In the West there has been an ongoing debate between science and religion about the origin and development of life. This has led to a polarized viewpoint in which neither side has, for the most part, been able to see any common ground. The extremes of the scientific dogma in this regard holds that all phenomena of life and mind, all stirrings of consciousness, are purely a result of physical, material energy, and therefore, there is no “higher purpose” and given the right opportunity, life can be created through the provision of the proper elements and basic “requirements”.

Sri Aurobindo makes the point that this scientific viewpoint can never actually be proven. He acknowledges that the powers of consciousness that manifest Life and Mind (and further developments) may rely on the appropriate framework and organisation of elements of the material energy in order to manifest and act, but that does not mean that they are CAUSED by these material elements.

“Even with regard to life, which is by a great deal the lesser difficulty, the discovery of certain chemical or other physical and mechanical conditions under which life can be stimulated to appear, will prove no more than that these are the favourable or necessary conditions for the manifestation of life in body,–such conditions there must be in the nature of things,–but not that life is not another new and higher power of the force of universal being. The connectino of life responses with physical conditions and stimuli proves very clearly that life and matter are connected and that, as indeed they must do to coexist, the two kinds of energy act on each other,–a very ancient knowledge; but it does not get rid of the fact that the physical response is accompanied by an element which seems to be of the nature of a nervous excitement and an incipient or suppressed consciousness and is not the same thing as the companion physical reaction.”

Sri Aurobindo,

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