Sunday, June 28, 2009

Life, The Universe, and Everything

In the past ten days or so, two articles on appeared, one on Mars and the other on Titan (Saturn's largest moon). Both talk of lakes on the surface of the globes: Mars a past water ocean, Titan a current methane lake system. And then both then mention the possibility of life developing there. Why is that? Why not stick to the questions at hand rather than going to conjecture? I can think of several reasons.
  • Journalistic appeal: an article on a far away lake is not interesting. The discovery of life outside of the Earth is.
  • Scientific longing: the desire to find something mind-blowing and paradigm-shifting.
  • Biological practicality: just like in the jungles of the Amazon, finding diverse life teaches us more about the life we know, and can grant us cures we couldn't get otherwise.
  • Historical genesis: if basic life is forming on other worlds, that would fill us in on how things may have come about here on earth.
  • Philosophical ache: one of the basic questions of this generation is, Are we alone in the universe?
  • Mythological debunking: if we find life on other planets, especially in the early stages, it puts a dent in the claims of a Creator God making a special Earth filled with fully-developed beasts.
This last one intrigues me especially, considering what the Bible says about life on other planets. What does it say? Oh yeah, nothing. Genesis talks about God's creation process on Earth, and it is only a weak inference that leads us to believe that life cannot be elsewhere. Furthermore, even if we hold to a special creation happening here on Earth (which I don't believe is strictly necessary according to Scripture), that does not preclude life developing naturally, does it? If Jesus heals a blind man, does that mean we cannot do the same using natural means?

In the same way finding other planets expanded our horizons of the grandeur of God's creation, so too the finding of life will open our eyes to the vastness of God's plan. Who knows? Other sentient life may exist in this vast universe, and it may be the call of our descendants to be witnesses to the end of their worlds, too (Acts 1:8).

1 comment:

Jimmy said...

Interesting article. Interesting points. I've been fascinated as I've been reading little blurbs here and there from over the last year (actually, I'm getting ready to turn my journey of scientific learning in the direction of astronomy, just fyi). Though not directly related to what you just shared, what's been catching my attention is that a lot of strange celestial phenomena seems to have been occurring lately. It makes me wonder about what God said in creation, that amongst other things, the stars should be given for signs (of course I'm careful in how I interpret that, as I don't want to go off into astrology). Scripture also talks about signs in heaven during the end-times (Lk. 21:11; Acts 2:19). I wonder if this might be what it's referring to, and if it is, it also strikes me that we're observing things that happened thousands of light years away, thousands of years ago, thousands of years before God spoke about them in His word, but not a split second before His awareness of their occurrence. One article that appeared on a few months ago talked about a violent celestial event that yielded what in form looked like a hand reaching towards an "eternal red light". I thought to myself, "I understand where they get 'a hand reaching towards a red light' from, but how did this word 'eternal' get in there?" The science community is known for trying to stamp out the existence of God, but could He be trying to get there attention?