Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Did Life Come from Mars?

We may be Martians after all. During a keynote address at the 2013 Goldschmidt Geochemistry Conference in Florence, Italy, Steven Benner postulated that it did. Benner, from The Westheimer Institute for Science and Technology in Gainesville, Florida, works in the field of “applied molecular evolution” where he attempts to reconstruct conditions that may have led to the spontaneous generation of life's biochemicals from inorganic compounds. In his address, he suggested life began on Mars then somehow migrated the more than 30 million miles to Earth. Benner postulated an oxidized form of the element molybdenum, which may have been crucial to the origin of life, was likely available on the Red Planet's surface long ago, but unavailable on Earth.1 

The theory that life on Earth was seeded by a meteor crashing into the planet or by extra-terrestrials beaming down amoebas has been gaining traction in the scientific community. The technical name for this theory is called directed panspermia and it was actually proposed first by Francis Crick, one of the co-discoverers of the DNA double-helix. 

Richard Dawkins, the famed British evolutionary biologist and outspoken atheist, also posits the panspermia theory as one counter to creationism and intelligent design. In Ben Stein's scathing documentary, Expelled, which critiques Darwinism, Dawkins said in an interview, "It could be that at some earlier time, somewhere in the Universe, a civilization evolved by, probably, some kind of Darwinian means, to a very, very high level of technology, and designed a form of life that they seeded onto, perhaps, this planet. Now that is a possibility, and an intriguing possibility. And I suppose it’s possible that you might find evidence for that, if you look at the details of our chemistry, molecular biology, you might find a signature of some kind of designer. And that designer could well be a higher intelligence from elsewhere in the Universe."2

Renowned British astrophysicist Stephen Hawking also weighed in on the issue when he gave a lecture entitled "Why We Should Go Into Space" for NASA's 50th Anniversary lecture series at George Washington University in 2008. Hawking said, "But we don't know how life first appeared. The probability of something as complicated as the DNA molecule being formed by random collisions of atoms in the primeval ocean is incredibly small . . .However, there is a possibility, known as panspermia, that life could spread from planet to planet, or from stellar system to stellar system, carried on meteors. We know that Earth has been hit by meteors that came from Mars, and others may have come from further afield. We have no evidence that any meteors carried life, but it remains a possibility. An important feature of life spread by panspermia is that it would have the same basis, which would be DNA for life in the neighborhood of the Earth."3

I don’t know about you, but this sounds a lot like science fiction rather than cold, hard science fact. In fact, this has been the central theme behind some of Hollywood’s biggest blockbusters. Big-budget, special-effects laden films like Mission to Mars, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull as well as Transformers:Revenge of the Fallen have all toyed with the idea that life and man’s technology originated from outer space. 

The fact that this theory is even on the table for many serious scientists highlights the problem that evolutionists have with explaining how life came about here on Earth. In order to have life without God, naturalism has to answer the riddle of abiogenesis somehow. Since the skeptic refuses to let a divine foot in the door they are forced to come up with something besides an Intelligent Designer. Ideas like panspermia are side effects of an attempt to rationalize the emergence of complex life in a universe devoid of God. Moreover, even if panspermia were true it doesn’t really solve anything, it merely pushes the question of origins further back. 

While this theory is rich in imagination, it is poor in actual data. There is not one shred of scientific evidence that links the generation of life on Earth from Mars. Actually, this is exactly what Paul said would happen when men reject God and willingly “suppress the truth” (Rom. 1:18-22). Paul wrote, "For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. Claiming to be wise, they became fools." 

I am amazed at the mental gymnastics and storytelling that takes place in order to shore up a crumbling belief in atheism. Isn’t it just more logical to accept Genesis 1:1? Natural science studies the matrix of matter, force, energy, space and time. Those five things are all in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning [time] God [force] created [energy] the heavens [space] and the earth [matter].” Ultimately, I think that the skeptic rejects God for moral reasons, not intellectual ones. As G.K. Chesterton once quipped, “An atheist doesn't want to find God for the same reason a thief doesn't want to find a policeman.” 

1. Mike Wall, "Earth Life Likely Came from Mars, Study Suggests" 23 August 2013, <http://www.space.com/22577-earth-life-from-mars-theory.html> accessed 8 October 2013.

2. Richard Dawkins quoted in Stein, Ben and Kevin Miller (2008), Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed (Premise Media).

3. Stephen Hawking, "Why We Should Go into Space," (2008), <http://www.panspermia-theory.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=87:stephen-hawking-why-we-should-go-into-space&catid=24:videos&Itemid=97> accessed 8 October 2013.


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