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I would like to outline the key characteristics of a living thing from a biological standpoint and show how viruses do not meet these criteria. First, a living thing must possess an organized structure, be it a single-celled (bacteria) or multicellular (animals and plants).
Viruses, however, despite displaying a wide variety of shapes and sizes, do not have a cell structure that would qualify them for the first criterion (Starr et al. 4). Second, a living thing needs energy as it is instrumental to many metabolic activities of a cell and, hence, critical to its survival. Viruses do neither require energy to maintain their existence nor are they able to control their temperature. Theoretically, as a virus can survive on nothing, it can drift for an indefinite period up until the first contact with the appropriate kind of cell for binding.
The third characteristic of a living thing is its ability to reproduce, whether through sexual or asexual reproduction. Unlike living creatures, viruses cannot self-divide and thus, have to invade a host cell, which later splits into two and more copies of itself, carrying viral components. Viruses’ inability to self-divide also leads me to the point that they cannot grow the way living things do, increasing in number, growing in size, or regenerating certain parts of themselves.
Lastly, what perfectly supports the argument against the living nature of viruses is the fact that they do not adapt to their surroundings. If a virus encounters a cell that is fit for binding, a series of passive chemical reactions take place, which usually results in the production of new viruses.
Even though scientists attribute such actions as employing, destroying, and evading viruses, they are not deliberate or dependant on environmental conditions.
Starr, Cecilia, et al. Biology:The Unity and Diversity of Life. 15th ed., Cengage Learning, 2018.