Organic Material Found on Mars

NASA announced two new sensational discoveries about Mars: “tough” organic molecules were found, as well as methane. And NASA and other news and science organizations are touting this as evidence that Mars ‘could have’ supported life in the past.

I’ve been following the epic excursions by the Curiosity rover since it landed on the Red Planet on August 5, 2012, and it’s fascinating to pour over all the photos and data obtained since then, even imagining what it would be like to climb the terrain myself and view the barren landscape. Actually, Curiosity has only traveled a little over 11.85 miles since it landed (as of sol 2052, or Martian days), but it has stirred up quite a bit of interest lately.

First, according to NASA, Curiosity used its onboard laboratory to drill into sedimentary rock near the surface for samples in four areas at Gale Crater. These samples were heated and analyzed, and organic molecules were found.  Second, researchers found seasonal variations in methane levels in the Martian atmosphere. Both of these findings have left some people in the scientific community bubbling with excitement.

Well, I certainly find it fascinating, but not to the point of exuberance. These discoveries help us learn more about Mars, but researchers are using this to preserve and advance the belief in alien life, something I consider unnecessary, unproductive and costly.

Of course, these discoveries don’t prove that life does exist (or ever existed) on Mars. It just means, if life had spontaneously appeared on the planet and been capable of reproduction, it could have survived for some period of time, and that will undoubtedly encourage future missions to continue the search for life, and NASA acknowledges this goal.

According to Thomas Zurbuchen of NASA, “With these new findings, Mars is telling us to stay the course and keep searching for evidence of life.”

I don’t think Mars is telling anyone anything, but I get the point. The finding of organic molecules is a big deal because they’re commonly associated with life, and this is what they hope to find. Finding life beyond Earth would be the most remarkable discovery in human history! And the promise of finding life will undoubtedly provide further funding, which is key.

But it’s important to keep in mind that they have not found life because, as they point out, organic molecules can form via non-biological processes. And even though methane is released by animals on Earth, what was found on Mars could be from water-rock chemistry. So, these discoveries could end up being a dead end. But they can hope! And they can take the public along for the ride at the same time.

Personally, I see no good reason to believe in alien life. As a Bible believing Christian, the Bible explains the origin and purpose of life on Earth, but it provides no legitimate basis for life elsewhere in the universe. It may seem like a cool concept for alien life to exist, but the only real reason for for this belief remains tied to evolution and atheism. If God doesn’t exist, then the only other possibility is that life arose spontaneously by naturalistic causes, and if that happened on earth, then it must have happened elsewhere in the universe too!

Well, that’s a simplified explanation, but sufficient. If we look beyond earth, the rest of our solar system is completely dead and baron. There’s no evidence of life anywhere else, even though scientists have discovered organic molecules and methane. And there’s no good reason to think we’ll ever discover life beyond what has originated on Earth. I think this is just a bunch of hype mixed with ordinary research.

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