Life on Mars? The Theological Implications


Drudge is teasing a story about a scientist claiming there is strong evidence for microbial life on Mars.

If true, it will surely spark some debate about the theological implications in both the scientific and spiritual communities. But should it?

I’ve been fascinated since childhood with space exploration and always enjoy those Discovery Channel programs about the latest discoveries about the conditions on Europa or Io or other moons of Saturn and Jupiter.

Invariably, there is a mention of the possibility of the presence of “water ice” or even liquid water on these moons immediately followed by a breathless suggestion that this greatly enhances the possibility of finding life there. I’m always amused and intrigued by this earnest expectation among those in the scientific community.

It’s almost as if they believe: “Find liquid water and you’re almost sure to find life!”  It seems to me that these scientists are presupposing there’s a very strong bias for life built into the universe.

I’m always surprised by this expectation because, according to the best scientific thinking, life arose on Earth due to an almost unthinkably unlikely confluence of circumstances. Earth cooled at exactly the right distance from exactly the right-sized star with precisely the right amount of iron to form a molten core which produced just the right magnetic field to produce just the right protective shield from solar radiation. It was then bombarded with just the right asteroids and comets at the right times to deliver just the right elements and water, etc, etc.

Of course, for the Christian, all these “coincidences” pose no mystery. But for the materialist/atheist scientist, you would think it would temper their expectations of finding life elsewhere just because a little water is lying around.

So back to Mars. What does it mean for a Christian’s faith if it is proven that microbes do (or once did) exist on Mars?

Nothing, as far as I can tell. For one thing, it is possible that past meteor strikes on Earth blasted huge amounts of material into space and into the orbital path of Mars. Furthermore, there is nothing in the Bible to suggest that life cannot/must not exist elsewhere.

And if life did arise on Mars or elsewhere it does suggest compellingly that there is a bias for life built into the cosmos, and therefore shouts this question: “Who built in that bias?”