Promise you’ll try not to laugh? I warn you, you may need to muster a fair amount of self-control in order to stop yourself. I must admit I’ve read this several times and haven’t yet managed to get through it without at least a giggle. So don’t say I didn’t warn you. Now get yourself comfortable and wipe off any hint of a smile from your face. Are you ready? Okay, so here goes with a report from the BBC:
“Life may have started on Mars before arriving on Earth, a major scientific conference has heard. New research supports an idea that the Red Planet was a better place to kick-start biology billions of years ago than the early Earth was. The evidence is based on how the first molecules necessary for life were assembled. Details of the theory were outlined by Professor Steven Benner at the Goldschmidt Meeting in Florence, Italy.
Scientists have long wondered how atoms first came together to make up the three crucial molecular components of living organisms: RNA, DNA and proteins. The molecules that combined to form genetic material are far more complex than the primordial ‘pre-biotic’ soup of organic (carbon-based) chemicals thought to have existed on the Earth more than three billion years ago, and RNA (ribonucleic acid) is thought to have been the first of them to appear. Simply adding energy such as heat or light to the more basic organic molecules in the ‘soup’ does not generate RNA. Instead, it generates tar. RNA needs to be coaxed into shape by ‘templating’ atoms at the crystalline surfaces of minerals. The minerals most effective at templating RNA would have dissolved in the oceans of the early Earth, but would have been more abundant on Mars, according to Professor Benner. This could suggest that life started on the Red Planet before being transported to Earth on meteorites, argues Professor Benner, of the Westheimer Institute of Science and Technology in Gainesville, US.
‘The evidence seems to be building that we are actually all Martians; that life started on Mars and came to Earth on a rock,’ he commented. ‘It’s lucky that we ended up here, nevertheless – as certainly Earth has been the better of the two planets for sustaining life. If our hypothetical Martian ancestors had remained on Mars, there may not have been a story to tell.’1
Okay, so how did you fare? Did you manage to get through the whole thing without so much as a smile? Is that even possible?
So there we were, all having been assured over the past century or so that the results were in, the science was unequivocal and that anyone still believing that life came from an almighty creator is a rank imbecile. Then along comes the latest in a long line of “scientific” explanations for the origins of life on Earth, nicely dressed up in the velvet garb of scientific respectability, as usual, but underneath the outer layers the proposition is what? That life somehow started – though we’re still not any wiser on the point of how that happened – on a planet with an atmosphere and conditions utterly different to our own, and then somehow hitched a lift on a rock from there to here – 34 million miles away on a good day, 249 million miles on a bad – where it adapted itself so well to its new environment that a few billion years later its descendants can send space probes back to the Fatherland to take pictures.
Phew, that was lucky! I mean really, really lucky. Especially when you consider that the meteorite managed to slow down sufficiently to avoid destroying the life that had hung on for the ride when it thwacked into the surface of the Earth. It even managed not to burn up and fry its micro-passengers upon entry into our atmosphere, which is a relief. Still I guess if you are hardy enough to survive an open-air ride of that magnitude through outer space, thwacking into a planet might seem like a cakewalk. Oh and the rock also managed to avoid sinking into the primordial soup and drowning its inhabitants, which would have been a shame having travelled such a long way, and even more so as the next rock was not due to reach Earth for another 21 million years.
Now I know that some readers will at this point demand to know what my credentials are for mocking such carefully researched scientific theories. Where is my training in microbiology? Where did I go to study biochemistry? How many years have I been studying the planet Mars? I must confess that you’re right. I have none of these credentials whatsoever. In fact the only credentials I have are the ones that that boy had who shouted out, “Hey everybody! The emperor has got no clothes on.” So far as I know, he had no expertise in textiles or tailoring. What he did have, though, was an ability to spot nonsense when he saw it.
But if you want something a bit more substantial than response-by-derision, here are just a couple of points:
Simply transferring the origin of life on Earth from here to a distant planet does not solve the problem. Panspermian theories of life being imported from elsewhere in the Universe have been around at least as far back as the 19th century with some of the more wacky ones, such as intelligent life (not an intelligent designer of course) importing the life here, having been endorsed by the likes of Francis Crick, the co-discoverer of DNA, and Richard Dawkins. Yet none of these theories, up to and including Professor Benner’s Martian theory, actually move you any closer to solving the problem. You still don’t have a testable mechanism whereby abiogenesis occurred. Saying that if this bunch of chemicals were mixed with that bunch of chemicals over there, rather than this bunch of chemicals being mixed with that bunch of chemicals over here gets you no further toward showing how life came about. You are just pushing the problem out there somewhere and hoping that the gullible won’t notice.
The other observation is this: haven’t we been told for years and years that life started on Earth, through the “pre-biotic soup” being energised somehow? Haven’t we been told in text book after text book that life began on the early Earth, replete with pictures of lightning bolts raining down on the goo below to lead us to believe that somehow electricity plus slime could spark life? Now what? Now we’re being told that actually this couldn’t have happened because the chemicals needed for it weren’t even here. Too bad! Maybe they were over there somewhere. Let’s try Mars.
If you are an atheist, convinced that the idea of believing in God is akin to believing in the Flying Spaghetti Monster, this stuff is embarrassing and it ought to make you cringe. You want Flying Spaghetti Monster stuff, well “Microbes Hitch Lift on Rock Across Space” is a pretty good candidate wouldn’t you say?
Of course atheists might well respond by saying that there is plenty of stuff in the Bible to be embarrassed about and plenty of disagreement amongst Christians. Well yes there are some hard-to-be-understood and hard-to-accept parts to the Bible, but at least the foundation is there and Christians agree on the essentials, such as life originating from God. Atheism, on the other hand, which claims to be scientifically enlightened compared to Christian superstition, does not even have a credible foundation. Criticising the Bible for the bits Christians disagree on, whilst not even being able to explain how life began, is a bit like a man who still can’t decide what to build the foundation for his house on after many years of trying, laughing at the folly of his neighbor who can’t quite decide what colour to paint his bathroom.
So you can go to Mars for your explanation of life if you will. You’ll find it a bit chilly, a tad too dark for your liking and utterly lifeless, which might give you a clue if you’re looking for one. Oh and you may well find that the adventure won’t stop there. In a few years time, another professor will come along and explain in highly technical terms why it couldn’t have been Mars but must have been Neptune, or something out there in the Crab Nebulae. And you can carry on revising the theory ad infinitum, but you still won’t be any closer to explaining the origins of life.
Or you can go to the Bible and accept its explanation. You may find it a bit simplistic to suit your tastes to begin with. There are no big scientific words. No jargon. Just something that anyone, any age, anywhere can understand. Accepting it will involve repenting of the sins for which you are guilty, but once you have done this, you’ll find it warm and full of Light. Oh and you’ll not only find a proper, credible explanation for the origins of life, but you’ll find out the purpose for it at the same time.