I was unaware of the fact that it is difficult to define life. I understand that in philosophy and religion, the concepts of existence and consciousness are highly discussed, but in terms of science and biology (the study of life), the definition is not at all mysterious. Why is difficult to define life for some people? Perhaps because they do not understand science enough. This statement is not meant to be an insult.
Life distinguishes animate and inanimate objects. One easy way to distinguish is inanimate objects do not die.
“Living organisms undergo metabolism, maintain homeostasis, possess a capacity to grow, respond to stimuli, reproduce and, through natural selection, adapt to their environment in successive generations.” (wiki)
The question can be answered simply, but it can also be extremely complex.
One of the problems with using Wikipedia as a primary reference is shown here. Among the references for the opening paragraphs on the article about Life is a rather subjective and philosophical essay from Science. Very significantly to your topic, the Wikipedia sentences say quite different things than the article.
The Wikipedia article mentions some philosophical and religious approaches to defining life. And for many people, these are the most important. It’s very difficult to reach conclusions about these because some perceptions are based on personal experience that other people have not had. Also, the complexity of philosophy and religion is such that answers may come only after years of study.
The Wikipedia article includes a statement from a rather sobering source that is given below. The statement is: “One of the challenges in defining death is distinguishing it from life.”
Before leaving you to read Wiki and follow some of their references (there are also a huge amount of comments in the “talk section http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Talk:Life), consider that “life” is not something like “radiation” or “titanium” where what is true here and now on Earth must be universal, and therefore applies equally to the Andromedia Galaxy of, say, 1,000,000,000 years from now. “Life” is just a concept established by humankind.
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