The Theory of Life

Robert Howard Kroepel
Copyright © 2003
Lakeside Studios
New Durham, New Hampshire USA

What is life?

From what we know, can we create a theory of life?

For any theory, we must provide operational definitions of terms and phrases used for concepts, principles and techniques.

Basic Philosophy (Operational Philosophy)

Concepts, Principles and Techniques

A concept is a mental representation, idea, of an object, a unity which retains its identity for a longer period of time than a related event.

Examples of objects: Jane, a ball, Dick.

People do not care to be considered objects, despite the fact that they fit the definition of objects as having longer duration in time than related events, therefore when objects are described/discussed people and objects are lumped together as people/objects.

A principle is a relationship between or among objects; relationships between/among objects occur for a much shorter duration of time than related people/objects.

Relationships between/among people/objects most often are causal relationships.

Example of a principle: Jane throws the ball to Dick.

Causal relationships occur when people/objects/events who/which are causes cause/create people/objects/events who/which are effects.

Causality is the cause-and-effect relationship between people/objects/events who/which are causes and people/objects/events who/which are events.

Causes precede effects in the sequence: 1. Causes -> 2. Effects

Causality never reverses; the sequence of 1. Causes -> 2. Effects occurs only in one direction and in a limited period of time. We see eggs progressing into chickens but we never see chickens regressing back into eggs.

Example of a causal relationship: Jane is the cause of the ball traveling to Dick.

A technique is an application of a concept/principle.

Example of a technique: Jane's throwing the ball to Dick is an application of the technique of throwing that ball to Dick in contrast to the technique which is Jane's handing the ball to her dog, Spot, and instructing him to carry the ball to Dick.

True concepts accurately describe people/objects; false concepts do not accurately describe people/objects.

True principles accurately describe events, particularly causal relationships between/among people/objects, causality; false principles do not accurately describe events/causal relationships/causality.

Practical techniques are effective applications of concepts/principles; impractical techniques are ineffective applications of concepts/principles.


Facts are true concepts/principles/techniques; opinions/beliefs are hypotheses concerning concepts/principles/techniques which are not conclusively proven to be true but which are regarded as being true and used for decision-making and problem-solving.

Knowledge consists of facts; belief consists of opinions.

Knowledge is not belief, and belief is not knowledge.

Operational Definitions

Operational definitions define terms/phrases by descriptions of the observations and/or measurement of people/objects/events comprised of matter/energy in contrast to being the content of ideas/imaginings/fantasies/etc.

The fundamental question operational definitions must ask and answer is this:

What does _______ [term/phrase being defined operationally] do [request for descriptions of observations/measurements of people/thngs/events comprised of matter/energy]?

Another form of the fundamental operational definition question is this:

What do ____ [people/objects/events comprised of matter/energy] do when _______ [term/phrase being defined], or when _____ [term/phrase being defined] happens/occurs?

By descriptions of observations/measurements of people/objects/events comprised of matter/energy operational definitions help make abstract concepts/principles/techniques concrete.

Example: What is love? What do people do when they love?

Observation: When people love, they say nice objects/statements about each other, and they do nice objects/activities for and with each other.

Operational definition of love:

Love [term being defined operationally] is when someone says they like you and they do nice activities for you and with you [description of the people/objects/events related/relevant to the term being defined].

A Theory of Life

For a theory of life, we will need an operational definition of life, therefore we must make observations of life and ask and answer this question: What do life forms do?/What do atoms/ and molecules do when they do life?

First of all, what is life?/What do life forms do?/What do atoms and molecules do when they do life?

Atoms seek stability by sharing electrons by forming molecules which seek stability by forming cells which consume energy, eliminate wastes, and reproduce and which thereby seek stability by forming organs within organisms.

We see, therefore, a sequence in which 1. atoms share electrons, 2. atoms form molecules, 3. molecules form cells, 4. cells form organs within organisms.

Obviously, as the atoms arrive at and pass through the stages of the life-forming sequence a complex organization develops, but this organization is a pattern of atomic activity, which, although complex, is, at its root, a pattern, a relationship between and among atoms which cause atoms to form molecules/cells/organs/organisms--a pattern/relationship between/among atoms which causes molecules/cells/organs/organisms to form and maintain themselves.

Again, the driving force in atomic activity is the difference between stable and unstable atoms/ions, and the motion caused by unstable atoms seeking stability.

In physics, a change of motion is caused by a force.

Among atoms motion between/among atoms is caused by the force caused by the instability which is either a deficiency or excess of electrons within atoms/ions. Atoms will move to achieve stability, as if they seek stability, to eliminate deficiencies or excesses of electrons.

I am familiar with physics down to the level of atoms and subatomic particles, and and not familiar with elementary particles, so I limit my theoretical thinking to the subatomic and atomic levels.

We know  that atoms tends to have two configurations: (1) Stability, when the number of electrons is the same as the number of protons, electrons = protons; (2) Instability when the number of electrons is (A) less than the number of protons or (B) more than the number of protons, when electrons n= (is not equal to/does not equal) protons.

Thus atoms are either (1) stable or (2) unstable.

Unstable atoms of either Type A or Type B are called ions.

General Principle: Motion is caused by unstable atoms, by ions, by either A or B ions.

Type A ions tend to act as if they 'desire' or 'intend' to gain missing electrons. They 'move' to 'steal' electrons from other atoms, as if they are atomic thieves. In some cases they 'share' electrons with atoms that act as if they 'are not willing' to give up electrons, to let atomic thieves steal their electrons.

Type B ions tend to act as if they 'desire' or 'intend' to get rid of excessive electrons. They 'move' to force other atoms to 'accept' their excessive electrons, as if they are atomic rapists. In some cases they 'share' electrons with other atoms that act as if they 'are not willing' to allow other atoms to rape them; in other cases, they share electrons with other atoms which act as if they are willing to share electrons.

Thus, motion, change, is caused/created by the 'desires' or 'intentions' of ions, atoms with too few or too many electrons.

The 'desires' or 'intentions' of atoms are assumed to be nonconscious because of the assumption that consciousness requires a nervous system, which is a higher order of organization than found in basic atoms, in ions.

Thus, motion is caused by unstable atoms seeking stability, to become stable atoms.

If atoms can share electrons then molecules can be formed. Atoms do in fact share electrons and molecules do in fact form.

When atoms share electrons there is an assumption that the resulting molecules are more stable than the naked ions prior to the sharing of electrons in the formation of the molecules.

We thus observe a general tendency of unstable atoms, ions, to move as if they seek stability, and in the process create larger structures, molecules, which tend to be more stable than the basic unstable atoms/ions.

If the process of forming molecules for the purpose of achieving stability continues, there is a possibility that larger structures, larger molecules will form.

We do in fact observe larger structures forming larger molecules.

When molecules reach a certain size, they can develop within themselves atomic configurations that have specialized functions within the overall organization, and the confederation of atomic configurations may require and therefore seek energy in the form of food, food being other molecular structures which can be absorbed and converted into usable energy, at which point these molecular structures can be called cells.

Life certainly exists at the level of cells. Cells eat, eliminate wastes, and reproduce.

When we observe molecules as cells feeding upon other molecules then we are observing life feeding upon nonlife.

As cells seek stability, they can form larger structures called organs, and still larger structures called organisms.

We thus can observe a general trend of atoms seeking stability and forming larger and larger molecules then cells then organs then organisms. This is the general sequence of the development of life from non-life.

We note that from the simple arises the complex. And that the complex arises from the simple because of the 'desire' or 'intent' of the simple to gain stability.

We have noted that as complexity increases patterns of organization appear, and that the patterns themselves seem to seek stability, which is the correct interpretation because the patterns themselves at their roots are unstable atoms/ions seeking stability.

We observe that life (A) uses and therefore seeks energy, as food, and thereby processes food, and (B) eliminates wastes, and (C) reproduces, creates offspring.

Scientists have noted that single-cell life forms called amoebas can live indefinitely if their surrounding fluids--the fluids in which they live--are replenished/refreshed so the amoebas do not die from toxins/poisons in their own wastes.

We note, then, that at least one life form has an indefinite duration, and we can wonder if or not there is a possibility that more complex life forms can ultimately have indefinite durations. Perhaps the effective elimination of wastes is one factor in producing life forms of indefinite duration.

Summary: An Operational Definition of Life: Life is comprised of unstable atoms and molecules which are organized into cells and organs and organisms in which (A) energy is sought as food, food is absorbed and transformed into usable energy, (B) wastes are eliminated, (C) the organisms reproduce; the pattern of organization of unstable atoms/molecules/cells/organs/organisms causes life forms to process energy, eliminate wastes, and reproduce, therefore life itself is ultimately the pattern of organization which has the equivalent of desires/intentions/purpose and causes the processing of food for energy, the elimination of wastes, and reproduction.