‘Maybe We’re All Martians’

The late Carl Sagan wrote in his book Cosmos, "Many years ago, so the story goes, a celebrated newspaper publisher sent a telegram to a noted astronomer: 'WIRE COLLECT FIVE HUNDRED WORDS ON WHETHER THERE IS LIFE ON MARS.' The astronomer dutifully replied: 'NOBODY KNOWS', 'NOBODY KNOWS', 'NOBODY KNOWS' . . . 250 times." But some people's desire to know is so intense that NASA and its British counterpart have spent nearly a billion dollars to find out. Rover 1 ("Spirit") landed on the red planet last week. It was preceded by the British space vehicle Beagle 2 on Christmas day, with NASA's Rover 2 ("Opportunity") scheduled to arrive January 24. Why such extraordinary effort and expense to look for life on Mars? Well, scientists, of course, are always eager to explore the unknown, but there's another reason you might not hear much about. Evolutionary theorists have never been able to demonstrate that non-living substances evolved into the first living cell here on Earth. Some speculate that biochemical evolution took place here, but the evidence eroded away. So the theory goes: Let's look at Mars; maybe there they experienced the same thing, and we can find the fossil record. In fact, one NASA website says, "Mars may be a fossil graveyard, recording the chemical conditions that fostered life on Earth, where the record of . . . life's first moment is likely to have been eradicated forever." Then there's another possibility. Some evolutionists speculate that Earth hasn't existed long enough for natural processes to produce the first living cell here. So life must have come from elsewhere. Project chief engineer Gentry Lee says, "Maybe life evolved first on Mars and was knocked off the surface and carried to the Earth. Maybe we're all Martians." The primary clue they're looking for, of course, is water that could indicate past or present life. But, of course, ingredients are not enough. As Carl Sagan himself acknowledged, "The essence of life is not so much the atoms and simple molecules that make us up as the way in which they are put together." And that's where the evolutionary theory is in trouble. Consider this analogy: Rover 1 required impressive engineering to travel 300 million miles at speeds of up to 12,000 miles per hour and to land within a few yards of its target gently enough not to damage the equipment onboard -- it is extraordinary. Scientists and engineers designed, assembled, and tweaked thousands of components so that they could function together flawlessly. By analogy, would anyone imagine that all of that happened by random chance? No. Finding life or evidence of it on other planets is essential to the evolutionist's case. Carl Sagan once said that if there's life on only one planet, it could be a miracle; if there's life on two, it proves that life is a natural evolutionary process, and atheists can sleep soundly. That is the motivation that drives this search for life on Mars and fascinates us with Little Green Men. So as the images and data come in from the Rovers, and as they are interpreted breathlessly by NASA engineers on TV, be aware that there's another agenda that some folks have here. It's not just a fascinating space exploration. It's making a case for how life began without a Creator. For further reading and information: "Is there anything out there?" The Times (London), 3 January 2004. (Subscription required.) Robert Roy Britt, "Earth vs. Mars: The Two Planets Weigh In,", 19 August 2003. Visit the NASA information page on Mars. Visit PBS's NOVA page about exploration on Mars. Paul Katcher and Jeffrey Kluger, "Getting to Know Mars," Time, 7 January 2004. Anne Applebaum, "Mission to Nowhere," Washington Post, 7 January 2004, A21. Carl Sagan, Cosmos (Random House, 1980). (See the "Blues for a Red Planet" chapter.) Norman L. Geisler, Cosmos: Carl Sagan's Religion (Quest Publications, 1983). BreakPoint Commentary No. 040108, "The Cosmic Drama: Does It Include E.T.?" BreakPoint Commentary No. 021003, "Water, Water Everywhere: Signs of Life in the Cosmos?" (Archived commentary; free registration required.) BreakPoint Commentary No. 010109, "SETI and the Search for Design: Is There Intelligence Out There?" (Archived commentary; free registration required.) Hugh Ross, Lights in the Sky and Little Green Men (NavPress, 2002). Ravi Zacharias, Can Man Live without God? (Word Books, 1994).


Chuck Colson


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