Correctly Defining Life

The Many Forms of Life

This is part of a series: Define Life

In this series, I want to define life precisely enough to answer this question:

  • When an inventor says that his invention is a new form of life, is he right?
    Whoever answers should be able to reasonably and conclusively explain why, or why not.

One of the most profound scientific discoveries is that biological life is made of ordinary matter, and is an extremely advanced machine.  If life really is a machine, then human engineers will eventually be able to create it themselves.  I’m not talking about merely manually building and assembling the parts of God’s creatures, I’m talking about a truly new form of life that is radically different from what God made.  I’m talking about fully artificial life, designed and built by humans.

But if someone says that they’ve built a new form of life, how can anyone know if they’re right?  After all, life is a hard thing to precisely define.  In this post series, I’ll list some of the most common characteristics of life, the most common definitions, list their strengths and weaknesses, and try to come up with a correct definition.

On this page, I’ll list links to each definition that I cover, and a link to my final definition.

Do you know of a way to tell a new form of life from non-life?  I’d like any help I can get.  Post your definition and method, and I might write a post exploring it further.


  1. Defining Life – The Current Working Definition
  2. Defining Life – Does its Origin Matter?
  3. Defining Life – Is it a Process?
  4. Defining Life – Is it Only Physical?
  5. Defining Life – Putting it All Together
  6. Defining Life – What it Means if I’m Right

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