The notion that life exists in galaxies far, far away has long intrigued mankind. This speculation has led to numerous science-fiction movies, TV shows, and books. Could it be true?
Will scientists ever find actual hard evidence of alien life in space? A mammoth new effort is now underway to answer this question.
World-famous British physicist Stephen Hawking and billionaire Russian Internet entrepreneur Yuri Milner announced a $100 million 10-year project to determine if intelligent life exists elsewhere in the universe. In London, England, on Monday July 20, 2015, Hawking and Milner unveiled their Breakthrough Listen project at The Royal Society (the United Kingdom’s national academy of science).
A third of the money will be used to investigate the million stars closest to earth. These funds will pay for 20% of the observing time on the Robert C. Byrd Green Bank Telescope in West Virginia and the CSIRO Parkes Telescope in New South Wales, Australia.
Another third of the money will be used to build new equipment, and the remaining third will pay astronomers.
“There is no bigger question. It’s time to commit to finding the answer — to search for life beyond Earth. We are alive. We are intelligent. We must know.”
(Stephen Hawking announces biggest ever probe into alien life, USA Today, 7/20/2015)
Milner also announced Breakthrough Message. This is a $1 million competition to create messages to send out to potential civilizations of alien life forms.
Jupiter and its 4 Galilean Moons
Io, Europa, Ganymede, Callisto
(from top to bottom)
Life on Moons?
Some people speculate there may be life on moons of our solar system, particularly on Europa and Enceladus, because both have water.
Europa is the sixth-innermost moon of Jupiter, the sun’s largest planet. It’s the smallest of Jupiter’s four Galilean moons, which were all discovered by Galileo in 1610. Slightly smaller than earth’s moon, Europa has an icy surface and an oxygen atmosphere.
Jupiter has 62 moons, but the Galilean moons are the four largest. One of them, Ganymede, is the largest moon in the solar system. Earth’s moon is fifth in size.
Enceladus was discovered by William Herschel in 1789. It is the sixth-largest and ninth-innermost moon of Saturn and contains water and carbon. Saturn’s largest moon Titan is often proposed as a location for life also; it’s the solar system’s second-largest moon.
No definite evidence of life has been found on any moons in the solar system, however.
From Where Did Life Come?
Panspermia is the speculative belief that life originated in outer space and was seeded on Earth and other astral bodies by comets, asteroids, and meteorites. Proponents overlook that panspermia, literally “seeding everywhere,” does not explain the origin of life. It just moves the problem elsewhere in the universe.
Senior astronomer Seth Shostak from California’s SETI Institute (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) speculated: “Maybe life was seeded on earth – it developed on comets for example, and just landed here when these things were hitting the very early Earth. It would suggest, well, life didn’t really begin on the Earth, it began as the solar system was forming.”
The oft-repeated claim that life on earth was seeded from outer space is a worldview-generated belief, not a conclusion based on evidence. To date, there is absolutely no substantiation for it. There is no evidence for life originating in space, nor any evidence that life on earth was seeded from space. It’s simply a belief.
Another popular explanation for life is abiogenesis, the belief that life arose spontaneously from non-life. No evidence supports this belief either. It has never been observed to occur, and no explanation exists for how non-life could assemble and organize the vast amount of information needed for life. The information content in the DNA of a single human cell exceeds that of the Library of Congress.
Unregenerate man jumps at any non-Biblical explanation for life that comes along. Bereft of grounding in truth, he falls for anything, no matter how wild and unbelievable the explanation is.
Over the last half-century, thousands of meteorites have been rigorously examined for evidence of life – with no success.
Even if life is unquestionably proven to exist on a meteorite from space, this would prove neither abiogenesis nor panspermia. Nobody would have observed it arising from non-life, nor would we know its true origin.
Moreover, evidence of life on a space meteorite would not address these fundamental issues:
How did life’s inert building blocks initially originate?
How did they supposedly self-organize into living creatures?
How did the “spark of life” originate?
Where life began is very different from how life began.
Life From Earth
If remnants of life are someday discovered elsewhere in the solar system, it’s possible that they originally came from earth, rather than life on earth having come from them.
How could this be?
Genesis suggests a possibility: Noah’s Flood. Prior to the Flood there were huge subcrustal reservoirs of water (“the great deep,” Genesis 7:11). When Earth’s crust ruptured and “the fountains of the great deep burst open” with expulsive energy far surpassing that of volcanoes, bacteria-laden mud and water could have been propelled into space.
Thus its conceivable seeding could have been generated from Earth rather than vice-versa. If someday bacteria are found on meteorites, they could have originally come from Earth.
In fact, seeding by earth happens today. Scientists have found micro-organisms in earth’s upper atmosphere that floated up from earth on wind currents. From there they are pushed out into the solar system by the sun’s solar wind. As they pass by other planets like Mars, the planets’ gravitational attraction would pull some of earth’s micro-organisms to its surface.
Thus an earth-centered “reverse panspermia” is possible. Life goes out from earth into space, rather than coming to earth from space.
Waste of Money
Milner’s and Hawking’s Breakthrough Listen and Breakthrough Message projects are a huge waste of $101 million. Some ancillary benefits may be received from the research, but no evidence of extraterrestrial alien life will be found.
As many have said, extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. And extraordinary evidence for extra-terrestrial physical life is totally absent. In fact, there’s not even any tentative evidence. I’m confident this new effort will not find any evidence, much less extraordinary evidence.
We know from the history book of the universe how life originated on earth, and it did not come on meteorites or comets from space. The Almighty created the universe and all life in six days about 6,000 years ago. And, according to the Genesis record, He created life directly on earth, not out in space.
There is no evidence that Yahweh created physical life anywhere else in the universe. With the exception of angelic spiritual beings, the life Yahweh created is on earth.
Questions to Ponder
- Why do you think people are so caught up in finding alien life in space?
- What evidence would be sufficient to convince you that there is alien extra-terrestrial physical life in the universe?
- If you had an extra $101 million dollars to spend, how would you spend it?
Share your thoughts on these questions in the comments below. It could encourage or help another reader.
Soli Deo Gloria.
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©William T. Pelletier, Ph.D.
“contending earnestly for the faith”
“destroying speculations against the knowledge of God”
(Jude 1:3; 2 Cor 10:4)
Wednesday July 22, 2015 A.D.
It is the Lord of hosts who made the earth by His power, Who established the world by His wisdom, and by His understanding He stretched out the heavens. (Jeremiah 51:15)