If you're ever such a pointy-headed Linux geek that somebody tells you to "get a life," this is probably what they mean. LucidLife appears to have no home page or active maintainer - the home page link from the help dialog goes to this charming 404 page. I guess you'd better hunt in your package manager...
Anyway, LucidLife, derived from GTKLife, comes with its own installed documentation, so you're not completely stranded. It's a GUI universe for playing Conway's Game of Life, the abstract artificial life simulator to end all abstract artificial life simulators. It takes the "LGF" format, which is a plain text format. For example, here is the whole file for the 'acorn' pattern:
#GLF 1.0 #D Acorn #D The most vigorously growing 7-cell "methuselah" pattern. #D See also Basics/Rabbits. x = -3, y = -1, width = 7, height = 3 bo$3bo$oobb3o!
So it's script-able, although this format might take some deductive parsing to figure out.
The program also has a standard set of features: two pattern libraries, ability to zoom, adjust speed, step forward, copy-paste-and move blocks of cells, and of course doodle around with a pencil to create your own busy smoke. The whole thing takes about five seconds to learn; it's so easy, it makes an excellent kid's toy!
Conway's Life has a massive history in hackerdom, of course. If this is your first time encountering it, prepare to get sucked into many hours of fascinated fiddling. Some starting places include the Life Wiki and the Life Lexicon.
And if somebody knows the eventual fate of this project or its maintainers, feel free to enlighten all of us in the comments.