One of creations wonders is so commonplace that we dont notice it. Yet its more marvelous than all the others . . . life. What mysterious quality makes a creature alive at one moment but is absent the instant the creature dies? Plants Are Not Alive? Most scientists would agree that any life in plants is of a different order than that in animals. If we saw a dead tree in a forest, we wouldnt be repulsedwe might even sit on the stump! Most of us, however, would not consider sitting on a dead animal. Similarly, we are happy to place dead flowers in a vase, but most homes would not display dead mice. No matter how much scientists learn about the complexities of organisms, they have not touched the more difficult questionswhat is life itself, and where did it come from? Have you ever thought about what life actually is? What mysterious quality makes a creature alive at one moment but is absent the instant the creature dies? A babys body, no longer breathing after it has just died, contains the same DNA, the same heart and body, and the same mass as it did only moments earlier. So what is missing? An entry in Wikipedia admits, There is no universal definition of life; there are a variety of definitions proposed by different scientists. The latest Encyclopedia Britannica agrees: There is no generally accepted definition of life. Nevertheless, the encyclopedias online version attempts a clunky definition with lots of complex scientific terms: A biochemical or molecular biological definition sees living organisms as systems that contain reproducible hereditary information coded in nucleic acid molecules and that metabolize by controlling the rate of chemical reactions using proteinaceous catalysts known as enzymes. Such definitions dont actually state what life is, merely what we see in living things. For instance, the biologist and philosopher Harold J. Morowitz comments that living things have one thing in commoncells: The only life we know for certain is cellular.1 The teaching guidelines for British textbooks suggest that students ages 11 to 14 learn that life is anything that displays seven qualities, summarized in the cute mnemonic MRS. GREN. That is, living objects have Movement, Respiration, Sensitivity, Growth, Reproduction, Excretion, and Nutrition. These properties are typical of cellular life, but they still dont say what life actually is. To help us understand the problem with defining life, a cell can be compared to a powerful computera highly sophisticated system that stores and processes information. There is more to a working computer than its physical partsit needs a designer, a programmer, and an engineer to build its parts. Then it needs a source of power and an operator to turn it on. Advanced as computer technology may become, a living thing is still leaps beyond. Despite its complexity, the computer is not alive. Consider a house fly buzzing about an office on a blistering day. If the power shuts down, the computer dies, but it can be rebooted after the power is restored. Not so with the fly. The Hebrew word used for the quality of having life is nephesh. Leviticus 17:11 shows us that this life is related to having blood: For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul. The word nephesh is translated in this particular verse as life, but also as soul. Yet, although the life is in the blood, this verse does not tell us what life actually is. The sort of life described in the Bible is not physical. While life clearly produces physical results that we can observe, that quality called life is something intangible. No matter how much scientists discover about the physical systems in organisms and their possible origin, they still have no clue about the infinitely more difficult question of where life came from. If you could make a baby from scratch, with all its physical parts in place, you still would not have a living human. The Bible gives us the answer. Life is a gift from God, a blessing from the Creator Himself. By Gods command, not physical accident, it is granted or removed. Even if we do not understand what life is, all humans can see it all around them. They also know in their hearts that the Life-Giver makes all this life possible. God uses even the mysteries of His creation to make Himself known!