Nature is composed of Matter, Energy and Information as its three basic parameters.
The ancients of India had divined as much, a truth at which now modern philosophers and scientists have arrived at.
One thing is established - life is not just some amalgamation of matter and energy - information is also an essential component. Otherwise any energy producing natural phenomenon may be said to constitute life for example the erupting of volcanoes, or earthquakes or even the mere lapping of waves on the sea-shore. Critical distinguishing feature of life is the passing on of information down generations of any species, through a genetic code. Evolution happens through the mechanism of passing information - information is the medium, language is just a sophisticated form of expressing information that we humans or probably highly evolved animals have developed.
Information is the software of life, much like matter and energy form the hardware. Without this software and hardware life wouldn't exist as we know it. Yet I feel life, its origin, it raison-d-etre is beyond explanation of matter, energy and even information. Information didn't produce consciousness - I think consciousness, which is evident in humans (while not evident in other life forms) is evident because of information, but that is not because of which it exists.
What then is the secret of this life, this consciousness? The ancient Indians had expended a great deal of reflection and intuition on these questions. First the reflective human thought that this body composed of matter is life, then dissatisfied, he thought the vital essence "prana" is life (which correlates with energy). But this too was not satisfactory. Then he thought manas (i.e. consciousness is life - remember, consciousness is evident to us through the medium of information and please dont confuse information with just language) must be the essence of life, but that was not found to be satisfactory. Beyond the manas lies intelligence (buddhi) and beyond it lies atma, the subject, the knower of all. That atma, which is no different than the Brahman which pervades all existence is the secret of life.
Frequently we find we have to go out of a parameter to understand a parameter. A parameter cannot explain itself in its own terms. First matter appeared to be the truth, but when we went to the layer of energy, we realized that matter is not the truth, but just an expression of it and so we went back layer by layer. Now from materialistic point of view, we can understand till the information layer. Humans have learnt abstract thinking through their evolution and this helps in this metaconceptions. Hence we can concieve the existence of consciousness. Yet for most of us looking from materialistic point of view, there seems a big barrier to go beyond, to understand that beyond. This is because we ourselves are in the layer of information. Hence while we can see below it energy and then matter, we cannot see above. We have to ascend above information. How to do that - I have no answer - still searching for it.