Life Beyond Earth

One of the aims of the Mars mission mentioned in my previous post, is to seek out evidence of some kind of life on Mars.
Last year I posted thoughts about the implications of the search for life beyond earth.

Within the comments section after that article I noted that any search for life elsewhere in space has already, most likely, been compromised by the many space craft and associated vehicles that mankind has already sent out there.

Can it be guaranteed that on all of that space-borne equipment not a single element of biological contamination has taken place? That every mission sent from various nations hasn’t transported a viable population of bacteria to the planets that were being explored?

No it can’t be guaranteed.

surevyor 3.jpgIn fact life has already been found on the moon, by the Apollo 12 mission. They retrieved equipment from the Surveyor 3 spacecraft that had previously landed on the moon. Upon that equipment they reportedly found biological contamination, the common bacterium Streptococcus mitis, possibly deposited by a technician sneezing on it during its preparation for launch.
Later assertions have been made that the contamination was caused during or after the return to earth – but could that be a case of attempting to convince the public that the stable door had remained securely closed, and that the bacterial horse had not actually bolted?

No matter how strenuous those assertions may be, it is clear that the possibility of contamination from earth remains a viable possibility.

…despite using plasma (matter composed of electrically charged particles), intense radiation and heat to sterilise the components, and using special “clean rooms” to assemble them, it has proved impossible to construct a microbe-free spacecraft. The heat, cold, vacuum and harsh radiation encountered during spaceflight will kill most of them, but some will probably remain alive long enough to reach the destination. Experiments on the International Space Station have proved that spore-forming bacteria can remain viable in space for at least as long as it takes to get to Mars. [my emphasis in bold – onesimus]  (from )

ISS photo.jpg

In last year’s blog post I suggested why the search for life beyond earth is so important to many people.

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

Maybe there’s a degree of irony in the possibility that mankind’s attempts to find definitive, incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrial life is being made impossible by the search itself.

4 thoughts on “Life Beyond Earth

  1. Very thoughtful piece.

    From your linked post: “But from a Christian point of view there’s no need to discount the possibility of some kind of life elsewhere. God could very well have created life beyond the earth for purposes of His own. An account of that life beyond earth isn’t necessarily relevant to his relationship with mankind so didn’t need to be revealed in scripture.”

    Amen. And who knows what we will discover in eternity? We will have…… eternity to find out! We cannot even begin fathom the possibilities.

  2. I think we shouldn’t make the mistake of believing that the Bible reveals everything there is to know – and therefore think we have all of the answers at hand regarding God’s creation.
    Unfortunately I think some people and organisations act as if we do, and can make Christianity and Christians seem foolish because of the claims they make.

    The Bible tells us what we NEED to know regarding our relationship with God and His creation. If there are other truths that aren’t relevant to those needs, they won’t necessarily be revealed to us.

    The last few chapters of Job come to mind, where God makes it clear how little Job (mankind) understands of God and His capabilities.

  3. There’s going to be an Apollo 11 film on CNN — Sunday the 23rd of June.

  4. 50th anniversary approaching.

    I recently watched the “old” Tom Hanks produced series From the Earth to the Moon. An excellent dramatized portrayal of the early space program.

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