Lily wrote:sorry, but there is no problem explaining life from just atoms, or what life is, Philip.
Interesting. Apparently it was this belief in vitalism in Victorian science that ensured a split of specialisations between organic chemistry and inorganic chemistry.
"Early chemists long believed in a vital force that made chemicals from living organisms wholly different from inorganic chemicals. This belief was the justification for the separation of organic and inorganic chemistry. It implied that organic chemicals such as sugar or fat could be analysed but never synthesised in the laboratory. The German chemist Friedrich Wöhler (1800-82) in 1828 was the first to question the faith in vitalism. He took what to him was an unequivocal inorganic chemical, ammonium cyanate, and showed that when heated it transmuted into urea. Until Wöhler did his experiment, urea was catgorised as an organic chemical, something made only by living organisms. Soon chemists found that they could make other organic chemicals, but it was not until the chemist Hermann Kolbe (1818-84) synthesised the familiar organic chemical acid that vitalism was at last rejected. Chemists went on to synthesise the intricate molecular structure of cholesterol, vitamins and even proteins. Now it looks as if everthing existing in living organisms can be synthesised from "inorganic" materials." James Lovelock, Healing Gaia
Had they not had this belief in vitalism the different fields of science might now look very different!