Is there life on other planets?
The answer to your question is really quite simple. I do not
know. No one knows one way or another for sure about life on other
planets at this point, leaving the entire issue up to speculation.
But since it is a matter of speculation, and since I am a
scientist, please bear with me as I speculate. First of all, there is at
least some evidence for live having existed on Mars. A meteorite which
was expelled from Mars was found several years ago in Antarctica. We know
it is from Mars from the isotopic abundance of certain elements in the
rock. The rock was much younger than other Martian meteorites (1.5
versus 4.5 billion years). It also contained certain iron compounds as
well as certain organic compounds which are typically only associated with
water and with life. It was reported that there were microfossils in this
rock which look amazingly like micro bacillus bacteria. All this evidence
has been well documented, but the conclusion that this proves life once
existed on Mars is hotly debated by scientist right up to the present. It
would be fair to say that the result is inconclusive.
Having said that, it is my personal belief, based on the
evidence which I have seen, that the conditions on Mars were once such
(sufficient warmth, water, atmosphere) to support at least primitive life
forms such as bacteria. If a meteorite can travel from Mars to the Earth,
which we know already, I would assume that whether life began on the Earth
of Mars, the other planet would have been seeded eventually. Therefore, I
am prepared to climb out on a limb and state that I believe that life
almost certainly existed on Mars at one time. If I were a betting person,
I would go so far as to bet that there is even life still there buried
under ground right now. We have found life buried thousands of feet under
ground on the earth, in Antarctica, at the bottom of the ocean and in hot
springs with temperatures of 100 degrees centigrade. I believe that
extremely simple life forms will eventually be found on Mars.
What about other planets; even on other stars? Here,
speculation would be more extreme. I believe life was created here on the
earth in the first place. I am not convinced (although I am open to the
possibility) that life on one star could provide the seed of life on
another star. It still remains unproven (although fairly likely, in my
opinion) that there are rocky, wet, warm planets elsewhere in the
universe. I will just say that this is an interesting but open question
which awaits further study.
In the end, whether or not life exists on other planets, it
would have little if any impact of Christian belief. It is apparent that
the universe was created with laws which allow for advanced life forms to
exist. Whether or not God chose to create life on another planet or in
another galaxy is a very interesting question which ultimately has no
effect on my faith in God or in salvation, heaven or hell.
John Oakes, PhD