Discussion of all aspects of biological molecules, biochemical processes and laboratory procedures in the field.
I believe what you are referring to as 'life' is a perception of the world around you, or a consciousness. It is hard to say that life 'begins' at any set point in fetal development, as stated above, all the cells which contribute to the fetus and resulting person spawned from an original set of living cells, as the cells multiply and go from stage to stage they are not merely pieces of flesh or a jumble of organic matter as some might assume, they are a defined as human from the beginning and develop slowly into something morphologically recognizable to the rest of us as a person. there is no point along the process where the fetus is endowed with life, it forms overtime, and develops a consciousness over time, to be technical, though, it was living from the beginning of the process.
I'm not sure if this is going to help you very much, it helps if you see life as a chemical process rather than a metaphysical happenstance, the latter being impossible to describe.
in endosymbiotic theory it is hypothesized mitochondria did not evolve inside eukaryotic cells but were consumed and incorporated into the cellular mechanics of the eukaryote, this is why they have their own DNA, because they were once individual organisms separate from other cells.
Refering back to the original post - the retired engineer said he didn't believe in god but "believed" in evolution. Even scientists do not "believe " in evolution - as with all scientific theories, evolution is accepted as the best explanation for a phenomenon or condition and carries the caveat that future data may one day drive a competing theory.
As belief refers largely to acceptance without data - effectively on faith - the engineer has arguable chosen another god about which he knows little.
However, on this occasion, the phenomenon bears the same name as the body of theory. In short, evolution is the fact to be explained, and evolutionary theory, consisting of various theories of evolution, is the explanatory framework within which models are constructed by scientists.
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