What life "is" is important to creationists because they want to claim that anything that can self-assemble from simple chemicals isn't life. It isn't very important to scientists because they're interested in both living and non-living chemicals.
Life is like a Hot Wheels car. Sometimes it goes behind the couch and you can't find it.
The dominant issue of the EvC debate concerns Life but there seems to be no consensus on what Life actually is.
That's because this isn't really a scientific question.
We begin with a naive idea of life where some things are definitely alive (me, a goldfish, a rosebush) and some things definitely aren't (rocks, bicycles, the Moon). When we study this matter more closely, we find that there's a number of properties common to the first set and absent from the second. "Aha," we say, "so that's what life means."
Now the problem comes when we observe or imagine something which has some of these properties but not others. Is that life?
And this, as I say, is not a scientific question --- it's a question about how we want to use language, which is a matter of social convention not to be solved by scientific inquiry. Fortunately, we don't have to solve it. We can just discuss what properties objects have without ever deciding which of those properties add up to something that we'd like to call "life".
However, the word "life" is convenient: thhat's what social conventions are for. I would suggest that we should define it in the way that is most convenient for whatever particular situation we find ourselves in.
In the context of these boards, the convenient place is that point at which the (short) answer to any given question is "evolution". That is, the significant features defining "life" should be reproduction with variation.
I posted this thread and left it to stew for a while to see what would emerge. Firstly I must state that I am not, in any way shape or form, a creationist/IDist but I am of the opinion that the reductionist method may not be as all encompassing as it appears to be. Part of science is to provide a description of reality and, in my opinion, Life is a fundamental feature of reality, particularly when discussing something like evolution. To suggest that trying to define Life is outside the arena of science seems preposterous to me and I find it truly shocking that there seems to be no scientific consensus on what Life is but it is understandable. Reductionism cannot touch something like Life which is why the question must be treated as non-scientific, brushed aside or sniggered at. The only alternative is to imagine that Life is an emergent property of physical/chemical interactions. An optical illusion created by complexity. I would like to put this thought forward: What if Life is an independently existing, NON-PHYSICAL phenomenom? How could reductionism describe something like this? As Frank Yurco stated "Life should be taken as a given, like energy or matter."
You are living. It is one of the most fundamental aspects of your existence. Rather than talk generally about Life let's get specific - the Life in YOU. Could we say you are Matter, Energy and Life? Matter and Energy are scientific but Life is not? Matter exists, Energy exists but Life does not? If Life does exist surely it MUST be described specifically by science.