Life on Mars?

by Rev. Sterling Durgy

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NASA scientists reported this month that a piece of a meteorite found in Antarctica has traces of amino acids and seems to have the fossilized remains of microbes. This announcement was greeted with great joy and the interest of other scientists in studying the evidence to see if it supported the claim that microbes had traveled here from Mars. This is a fascinating discovery that deserves to be made public. In spite of the hoopla, however, it hasn't been conclusively proven, at this point, that this meteorite came from Mars or that it actually contains evidence of microbial life that originated on Mars.

We should also note that the arrival of the Europeans in the New World led to the death of most of the native American population within a relatively short period of time because of newly introduced diseases. The actual population of native Americans in the 16th century and the actual number who died from disease are greatly disputed. But there is no doubt that the number that died was very large - certainly many millions. One estimate states that the native American population of Mexico alone decreased from about 30 million to under 3 million in less than fifty years ("Plagues and Epidemics," Compton's Living Encyclopedia, Compton's Learning Company, 1996. America Online, August 10, 1996). Those who are celebrating the possibility that the universe is filled with microbial life haven't yet awakened to the fact that this would probably make the universe very much more dangerous for human exploration. This is because of the danger from microbial agents our immune systems are not prepared to fight.

It is interesting to note that Dr. Hugh Ross, a Christian and an astrophysicist, predicted such a discovery in his book The Creator and the Cosmos: How the Greatest Scientific Discoveries of the Century Reveal God (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 1993). "Though I'm convinced that the origin of life defies a naturalistic explanation, I am expecting that life, or the remains of life, will eventually be discovered on Mars. My reason has nothing to do with spontaneous generation and everything to do with Mars' proximity to Earth" (p. 144). Dr. Ross made his prediction on the basis that microbes are regularly lifted into the earth's upper atmosphere. There, solar wind is able to carry them into space. Since Mars is in close proximity to earth, it makes sense that some of them would wind up on Mars. Further, he reports that experiments indicate that some microbes could live in space for as long as five days and can absorb a great deal of radiation without damage.

Dr. Ross. has another, more recent book entitled Creation and Time that is well-worth reading. His organization, Reasons to Believe, is, in my judgment, one of the very best in reconciling Scripture and the findings of science. However, while Dr. Ross has valuable things to say about the relationship between science and Scripture, readers should know that his theology, especially regarding the multi-dimensionality of God, is not fully orthodox; and Dr. Ross has, to date, resisted attempts to bring these beliefs in line with a more traditional interpretation of Scripture. At times, Dr. Ross seems to think that doctrines such as the Trinity have no validity unless a scientific explanation is provided for them. See the article by William Lane Craig, "Hugh Ross's Extra-Dimensional Deity: A Review Article," Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society, vol. 42, no. 2 (June 1999), 293-304. Even with this caveat, Dr. Ross has very helpful insights concerning the relationship between science and Scripture. You may reach him at Reasons to Believe, P.O. Box 5978, Pasadena, CA 91117 Phone: (818) 335-1480. Their Internet site may be found at:

Another book that may interest some is Robert Jastrow's God and the Astronomers (New York: Warner Books, 1978). Jastrow was the first head of JPL. Although an agnostic, the book is about how scientists refused to acknowledge the big-bang theory even when there was a lot of evidence in favor of it because the scientists didn't want to support anything that led to belief in a Creator. Jastrow's point is that, from a purely scientific point of view, being anti-God is as damaging to good science as forcing science to conform to one's concept of faith.

First printed in The American Night Watch Newsletter, Volume IV, Part 8, August 1996.

Copyright 1999 Sterling M. Durgy. All Rights Reserved.

The American Night Watch is a trademark of the Christian ministry of Sterling M. Durgy.

Permission is granted to reprint this article as long as the copyright is included, this statement is included, and the article is not sold to the recipients.

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This page was last updated April 28, 2002.