Does this new information lead to confusion or clarity? Can we ever answer the elusive question of whether viruses are alive, instead of just a non-living part of the living world? If we approach this puzzle correctly, we may find that we are focusing on the wrong question. Is “life” a box-like category that we can place things in as we discover them, or is it something far more mysterious?
It is like grouping bats with birds due to their shared ability to fly, instead of with mammals. This categorisation gives flight a priority over evolutionary history, even though it is evolution that reflects the most natural relationships among lifeforms on our planet.
Whenever we get too confident with our opinions and our definitions, we should wonder at that hypothetical planet holding lifelike entities in a remote galaxy, the existence of which could change everything we know.