The Instigator
cjet79
Con (against)
Losing
27 Points
The Contender
magpie
Pro (for)
Winning
46 Points

Virus is alive

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Voting Style: Open Point System: 7 Point
Started: 12/11/2007 Category: Science
Updated: 9 years ago Status: Voting Period
Viewed: 5,172 times Debate No: 252
Debate Rounds (2)
Comments (5)
Votes (23)

 

cjet79

Con

Viruses are not alive in the scientific meaning of the word "alive". (which is counter to what you claimed in one of your comments).
magpie

Pro

"As humans, we like to classify things because it helps us understand the physical world. Viruses must have a host cell to live and reproduce. Outside of the host cell, viruses are pieces of genetic molecules that can do nothing by themselves. Viruses are right on the border between living and nonliving. Some biologists currently see the virus as a nonliving infectious particle. Other biologists disagree and suggest they are alive because of what happens inside the host cell.
Getting a definite answer if viruses are alive or not may never happen."

I'm with the bilogists who believe that a virus is alive inside of a host cell. This is not an unreasonable requirement of venu, given that not even organisms can be considered alive outside of their nurtuing environement. I do believe that this issue is excessively esoteric for this forum.
The ammusing part of this debate is that even those scientists who deny the quality called life to viruses compare them to living cells that they call life, which backs my staements in the mother debate to this one.

I lifted the above quote from the following URL, which I acknowledge for attribution. There are many others.
http://www.beyondbooks.com...
Debate Round No. 1
cjet79

Con

There is a criteria for what constitutes "life" in biological terms.
1. Homeostasis...or maintaining a stable internal environment.
2. Reproduction
3. Adaptation...responding to change over time (evolution)
4. Response to stimuli
5. Growth
6. Metabolism
7. Organization...being composed of one or more cells which are the basic unit's of life.

A virus meets only two of these criteria outside of a cell (stimuli in some cases to enter the cell and adaptation...kinda). There are no other examples of any creature that only meets the definition of life on a condition. Even other parasites are still living because they all have those 7 basic characteristics.

Even inside the cell...it does not "grow" it merely produces a lot of copies of itself. That isnt growth in any stretch of the word.

As for homeostasis...a virus is a floating piece of protein and is best destroyed by a harsh environment (meaning no homeostasis). And even inside the cell where it might be considered to have homeostasis...the entire time it has infected the cell it does nothing but work towards destroying the host cell's homeostasis.

A virus is more like a renegade peice of machinery. It has only part of the equipment needed to maintain life, and I dont see why Viruses should be classified as a living organism.
magpie

Pro

cjet79: We will not be able to engage in a valid debate if we toss our opiions at each other. I will however, endevour to make a point, and allow you to do likewise. Like you, I enjoy debating because it makes me think critically, and forces my opponents to chalenge me to my best. I have no interest in "winning" within the context of the voting by others who may or maynot even understand the issues.
So to my point. There is a continuum to the issue of life. Ceertainly a grain of sand is not alive. Viruses range in complexity from random RNA to very complex molecules which include DNA. So far as the cloning methodolgy of reproduction, this is a very valid process. The second identical twin is a clone of its sibling.
Doctors discuss using "live", "supressed", or dead/killed viruses' in vaccines. I don't argue that a virus is the ultimate - or even pentultimate - example of life. But to describe them as non-life, is to relegate them to the genre of a grain of silica.
If NASA scientists were to retrieve an example of the most basic virus (as found on Earth), from Mars, scientists from around the world would join in a consensus that: "Life has been found on Mars!"
As I said in my opening statement, scientists are divided on the issue. You and I will not - can not - resolve ths issue.
You are, obviously, very bright and a worthy opponent. I will concede if I must, but would rather just end this as friends. Pls make a final comment.
Debate Round No. 2
5 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 5 records.
Posted by dr.doom 9 years ago
dr.doom
I go affirmative on what is probably a little bit of judicial intervention -- but considering cloning organisms/simple structures not life, the negative is affirming xenocide, which is nasty morally + could lead to the extinction of humanity. Extending the continuum of life solves for xenocide, so affirmative doesn't bite the link.

Meh, you guys batted around the fist link, and there's no real impact calculus at the end of the round...
Posted by superchico77 9 years ago
superchico77
haha, fun stuff. I just finished an Earth Systems class this semester, and our professor showed us how what we classify as life all depends on what definition you use. According to Aistotle and Herbert Spencer, Fire is alive. According to Tipler and Barrow, Cars and Computer viruses could both be considered "alive". The point being, you will probably never find a definition that all things that we know are obviously alive or not alive will fit into. Ah well, at least we can try... :)
Posted by easy2know 9 years ago
easy2know
I'll second that..great debate..very informative..ty both
Posted by SolaGratia 9 years ago
SolaGratia
It certainly was. Thanks, you guys, for a good debate. I enjoyed reading it.
Posted by cjet79 9 years ago
cjet79
I am still getting use to the debate style on here. This is a bit more laid back then i am use to. Most internet forums require an aggressive uncompromising position. Debate to me is more about arguing with ideas then it is about arguing with people, so i never hold animosity towards someone who can present a good argument. (I have kind of mixed feelings about the voting thing so i can take either position, if you wanna debate that just send a request)

My understanding of the terms "live" and "suppressed" is more akin to how you might describe an explosive device. A grenade is described as live in much the same way as a virus is.

While i certainly see a virus as more complex then a grain of silica i think the difference lies in complexity alone and not life. The definition of Life i gave has been one of the dominantly understood meanings of life (in biological terms) since 1947. As much as "life" might be a human oversimplification of the complexity of nature, there is still a need for such a classification in the scientific process. Commonly used phrases like 'life' have to be defined in order for scientific literature to be more universally understandable.

Good debate.
23 votes have been placed for this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Vote Placed by cmrnprk07 8 years ago
cmrnprk07
cjet79magpieTied
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Vote Placed by magpie 9 years ago
magpie
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Vote Placed by Klashbash 9 years ago
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Vote Placed by superchico77 9 years ago
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