The Search for Life on Mars
4 August 2008
“Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. For the invisible things of Him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: Because that, when they knew God, they glorified Him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened.”
Last week NASA confirmed the Phoenix Launcher found the presence of water on Mars. Big Surprise? Hardly! Knowledge of the presence of water on Mars is nothing new. It has been proved three or four times already. I’ve lost count. There have also been articles about evidence of water in the asteroid formation Pluto is part of too. Not only that comets are believed to carry water as part of their matter. Water is seen as essential to carbon based life forms, the only life forms we know about. And water seems to be pretty common throughout Creation.
People have been fixated with life on Mars ever since Jules Verne invented modern science fiction and Orson Wells radio broadcast about a Martian invasion created a regional panic. Now NASA hints they have secret knowledge of “provocative” and “complex” that they have chosen only to hint at instead of stating forthrightly and honestly. Scientists were not so silent about the supposed face on Mars or the presumed “Martian rocks,” not found on Mars at all, but supposed to be containing evidence of life on the red planet.
I am skeptical about why the Jet Propulsion Laboratory science team, for the wet-chemistry experiments, was excluded from the news conference last week. Could there have been conflicts of ideas about what has been found? And since there was an earlier electrical problem with the equipment, couldn’t anything they think they found be false or erroneous data? Could their rush to believe what they think they have found be driven by forces not purely scientific?
Some people think it might be the impact of what has been found that is causing the delay in their coming out and clearly saying what they think they have got! What could be so astonishing as to affect society deeply? The disclosing of some sort of life on Mars might impact many peoples worldview. This is why some people think the actual findings were not fully revealed. I propose to think with you on the subject of what that might mean to people from a Christian perspective, how some might react and why. I hope you will find this a profitable exercise that will equip you, as a believer, to give others an account of the HOPE that is within you so we may all be faithful witnesses.
Motivation For the Search for Life
“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him. But God hath revealed them unto us by His Spirit: for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God.” 1Corinthians 2:9-10
Perhaps you have heard of the SETI Program. SETI is the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence and its history goes back about half a century. Basically some scientists are listening to the patterns of emissions from the heavens hoping to find among the patterns of radio waves reaching earth for something bearing information they could designate as coming from an intelligent civilization. They are looking for the presence of information in a string of symbols of some sort they can identify. There have been many false alarms, but they have persisted in this endeavor year after year with faith most pastors would be thrilled to find in their church members.
You see the Phoenix Launcher expedition to Mars is not something new in the endeavor to find life not of this earth. Many believe such a discovery would prove evolution and eliminate God. Most of the people so excited about the existence of water on Mars would be thrilled to find a living microbe or bacteria, especially if it could not be related to anything on earth. Why? Because the next step would be to postulate that if such life exists then it might be possible even probable intelligent life exists as well. And, the dreamers believe such life forms out in the great beyond must be superior to our own. Some of these people, though supposedly scientific thinkers, also believe some so-called alien contacts of the “third kind” might also be real and come, as the aliens claim, from advanced societies. The one idea about such events that is absolutely ignored comes from people like myself who have documented and pointed the similarities between these contacts and demonic encounters.
Men are designed to worship God and if they reject God they need something to fill the God shaped void that then exists within them. And, some people are very shallow in their faith have already been shaken by the announcement water was again discovered. Well, there were people who wavered when a face was supposedly found looking up from the Martian surface and when rocks were proclaimed to be from Mars bearing evidence of fossils. This time surveys are being taken to assess the impact of the most recent announcement on people. I have a list of 16 questions being asked in these polls and I am sure there are more. And, when this latest round of “scientific inquiry” has run its course, a new and more complicated expedition to find life that can deny an Almighty God will begin.
Polling Questions about the Search
“For the mystery of iniquity doth already work: only he who now letteth will let, until he be taken out of the way.”
“And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie:” 2Thessalonians 2:11
Returning from two doctor appointments and looking forward to some rest, I had not even gotten out of my car when two young men I have known some years came down my drive brimming with questions needing answers. The nature of the inquiries that followed served to illustrate that on the way to the big lie God will allow those who reject Him to be deceived by many other lies sent forth to seek to confuse even those with a heart after God. The polling about the mental responses to the announcement of water again found on Mars, and the possibility of life there, can assess the impact of delusion in this instance upon people.
I invite you to consider the responses offered and mark your own selection(s). Sixteen polling responses currently being offered are:
_1. Given the vastness of space, the billions of stars and billions of years since the Big Bang, its inconceivable life did not arise elsewhere.
_2. It would mean we have a place to start over if we destroy our own planet.
_3. It may not happen in my lifetime but life will be found on other planets.
_4. We may find “life” but it will not be like anything we have on earth.
_5. It would debunk the biblical myth, silence the creationists and let real science occupy its proper place in education.
_6. I don’t know if it exists but it is part of man’s inquisitive nature to find out.
_7. There must be – all those UFOs are coming from somewhere.
_8. It would seriously challenge my faith
_9. If there is, and we find it, we will just destroy it like we have destroyed life here.
_10. Any life we “find” on another planet will be the result of our contaminating it with Earth bacteria from our own spacecraft.
_11. Given the billions spent by NASA, I’d prefer we saved the money by waiting for these other life forms to come discover us.
_12. The irony of this quest is we Earthlings snuff out 10s of millions of lives each year by aborting our own children.
_13. I accept the Bible’s account of Creation and it doesn’t say anything about God creating life anywhere except here on Earth.
_14. The hope of finding life on other planets is the secular substitution for the religious hope of experiencing life after death.
_15. If Mars has the “potential for life,” but doesn’t have life, the Darwinists have some explaining to do.
_16. Discovering it (life) would just confirm my belief in the majesty of God, my Creator.
Consider the implications of each response as they reflect faith in the God revealed in the Bible. What do your own honest emotional responses say about your Christian faith? Do you see the importance of considering this issue and being able to respond to it in a way that gives a Christian witness?
The Realm of Man and Beyond
“From the rising of the sun unto the going down of the same the LORD'S name is to be praised.” Psalm 113:3
The key Scripture passage does not place a limitation upon where the Name of the LORD is to be praised. In the Creation, the very stars, which some think representative of the angels, gave praise to the LORD. The verse makes it plain that in the part of the Creation where God gave the one creature made in His likeness the stewardship He is to be praised absolutely.
There are two ways to think of the term “…rising of the sun unto the going down of the same…” within the context of our meditation. The first is that from sunrise to sunset is the normal time of activity for men. The conclusion is that men in their activity hours should always have an attitude of praise while going about their daily undertakings. The second way, important to us now, is that since the sun is always rising and setting somewhere around the globe, this planet should always ring with praise to the LORD!
When we are talking about man’s exploration of space, we should realize that departing from this sphere is also a departure from the location where God gave man authority as His representative. For this reason, some have argued reaching into space and exploring God’s Creation is of itself sinful and rebellious. I do not agree. My concern is with the motivation from which man stretches his reach toward the heavens. When man built a tower to reach toward God, at the Tower of Babel, he got into trouble because his motive for building the thing was sinful. The act of building a tower itself was not a sinful act. The motive was. For man to consider the heavens with wonder at the might and majesty of God they reveal could be a part of ongoing praise for God as he goes about his daily undertakings.
As men might search the heavens looking for life as an action reflecting their rejection of God as Creator and revelator of Himself in Creation, so other men might consider the heavens with wonder at the handiwork of God. One is the act of sin, the other is the act of worship. Always the place where man was planted is the Earth. It is from this place that we either praise God or rebel against Him, as did those builders of the Tower of Babel.
From Our Perspective
“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.” Colossians 1:16-17
In the Politically Incorrect Guide to Darwinism and Intelligent Design, Dr. Jonathan Wells records some observations I would like to share and comment upon. The information he provides is recorded in Chapter 11 titles “What A Wonderful World.”
The first point I would like to share with you is something most people take for granted about total solar eclipses. In such an event the moon totally covers the face of the sun. At that point only the sun’s fiery outer atmosphere is visible from Earth. Being able to study this outer atmosphere has given astronomers the ability to find out much of what they know about stars. If the moon were smaller or larger, closer or farther from the earth what we have learned would have been harder to come by. Dr. Wells says “It’s as though the size and orbit of the moon were tailor-made for science.” When you begin to take this “coincidence” and add to it other things we find about the world we live in the likelihood of coincidence seems highly unlikely.
For instance, when we look at Earth we have to consider the many factors that go together to make it the best place in the solar system for scientific discoveries about the universe. Since it is also the only place for human life to survive without engineering, this is a benefit that makes the person who believes in a Creator suspect God wants His people to discover the wonders of His Creation and glorify Him as Creator all the more. Perhaps we should also praise Him for blessing us to be able to make such discoveries and marvel at what we observe.
Secondly, Dr. Wells points out the “fundamental constants” of the universe seem remarkably fine-tuned for life. He used the strength of gravity as a prime example. If the strength of gravity were weaker by only one part in a trillion trillion trillion, the universe would have expanded too quickly for the formation of galaxies or planets. On the other hand if gravity were stronger by the same slight factor the universe would have quickly collapsed in on itself, meaning we would not be able to exist. He also pointed out other fundamental constant like electromotive force, the ratio of protons and electrons and the force that bonds atoms together, being some of the dozen or so constants absolutely critical to a habitable universe. It is actually impossible to write out the mathematical odds of such constants having just the right value for life.
The Earth’s location is “unusually well suited for life” as Dr. Wells points out. The Milky Way is positioned in the universe for life to be in it and it has been termed the “Galactic Habitable Zone.” Then the Earth’s distance from our sun with its near-circular stable orbit provides the right conditions for liquid water, necessary for life and rare or nonexistent in places like Mars. So the Earth is unique, just as the Milky Way is unique. Even our moon stabilizes the tilt of Earth’s axis preventing ongoing life destroying variations in temperature such as might well have flash frozen mastodons at the time of the Great Flood. Normally the moon helps to spread nutrients, control tides, and regulate our environment. It is amazing how all these things fit together.
I could go on talking about this subject, but I think I have made the point God has placed us in the best position for survival in Creation as well as surveying the wonders of His handiwork. The Bible teaches us we were placed in it for the chief purpose of praising God and glorifying Him always. Isn’t it strange, unless God planned it that way that from the perspective we find ourselves in that is just what we should be best able to do unless our nature is utterly rebellious and blind to the Majesty of the Most High?
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