I heard you say at an event that life used to exist on Mars. I thought
life only existed on earth. I am reading a book about how unique the earth
is and it has been faith building – so that is why I was curious about the
comment. Why do you think life once existed on Mars?
There is some evidence that very simple life once existed on Mars. NASA
collected data from a Martian meteorite in about 1998 which had possible
microfossils, along with remnant magnetic crystals and polycyclic aromatic
hydrocarbons which they interpreted as evidence for bacteria-like life on
Mars about three billion years ago. Since then, the scientific community
has shown that there is sufficient doubt about the interpretation of the
data that this conclusion is pretty questionable, but the jury is still
What we do know is that asteroid collisions with Mars or the Earth can
project chunks of matter from the planet into interplanetary space.
Volcanic activity may be able to project Martian material into space, but
theoretical calculations predict that terrestrial material will probably
not be thrown into space by volcanic activity.
We know that bacteria spores can exist for thousands or even millions of
years and still be viable, especially in the low ambient temperatures of
space. Given the fact that terrestrial rocks can be thrown into space,
and given that bacterial spores can remain viable if cold and dry for
millions of years, it seems possible, and perhaps even likely that if the
conditions for life existed on both the Earth and Mars, and that if life
existed on one of them, it would eventually seed life on the other.
For this reason, I believe that once God created life on the earth, it is
very likely that it eventually spread from Earth to Mars. Scientific data
is telling us that the conditions on early Mars probably were conducive to
life. In fact, it is fairly likely that even now, certain archaeobacteria
could live deep below the Martian surface. Such bacteria have been found
hundreds and even thousands of meters below the surface of the earth.
For all these reasons, I am of the opinion that life probably once existed
on Mars, and may well even exist there now. I believe the majority of
scientific opinion agrees with this.
The implications of this for Christianity are none, in my opinion.
Whether or not life exists elsewhere is of little if any importance to
Christianity. For all I know, God may have created life on other places,
including Mars. Why? I do not know. God does not make us privy to such
information. My argument is not that God probably created life on Mars as
well. My argument is that life, once created on earth, would most likely
seed Mars as well, assuming the conditions for life existed there.
By the way, I would not take away from the uniqueness of the earth at
all. Although bacteria-like life could exist on Mars, we can be quite
confident that the conditions for advanced lifecertainly do not exist on
Mars, and almost certainly such conditions were never found on Mars. The
Earth is unique in having a sufficiently moderate and stable climate, as
well as the correct balance of elements and stability of orbit produced by
the strangely large moon for advanced life forms to exist and evolve. One
thing I can say with confidence is that there were no frogs or fish on
Mars. The Earth is unique, as far as we know, in that it can support
advanced, evolved, stable life. The presence of the moon, the
distribution of oxygen, iron and uranium, and many other factors present
on the earth, but not on other planets, including Mars, makes the earth
uniquely suited to support advanced life forms such as humans.
John Oakes, PhD