Strong Evidence for Life on Mars?

No liquid water is present on the surface of Mars, but researchers have suggested that a lake may have once existed on the surface of the red planet.1 Researchers inferred, based upon photographs taken by the NASA Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter, the presence of a former lake in the northern hemisphere.2 The lake's waters are believed to have flowed into the crater from an underground source.

The researchers suggested that these possible underground water sources may have allowed microbes to live below the Martian surface. They have suggested that life may have originated below the surface on Mars, and therefore life on Earth also started below the ground.

Creation scientists do not expect intelligent extraterrestrial life to exist in the universe, and they generally think it is barely possible that "simple" extraterrestrial life exists. Evolutionary scientists, on the other hand, tend to ignore the enormous difficulties with secular origin-of-life stories and reason that if life evolved here, then it likely evolved elsewhere in the universe as well. So, they reason a discovery of extraterrestrial life would somehow validate evolution, despite its apparent improbability.

Of course, there is currently no evidence whatsoever for any extraterrestrial life on Mars or anywhere else. However, evolutionary scientists would see the discovery of liquid water (or even past liquid water) on Mars as in indication that life could have existed on the red planet—the next best thing.

But even if there was water on Mars' surface once, it does nothing to assist evolutionary speculation about life's origin. Although water is necessary for life, water cannot produce life. In fact, the presence of water is problematic for secular origin-of-life stories, since it tends to break apart the complex biomolecules necessary for life through spontaneous chemical reactions known as hydrolysis.3

Moreover, even if microbial life were found on Mars, the same insurmountable difficulties that plague secular stories about life's origin on earth would also plague stories about life's origin on Mars. Far from making the evolutionary story more believable, the discovery of microbial life on Mars would require two wildly improbable series of fortuitous coincidences—one on Earth and another one on Mars!4

In summary, this "strongest argument" for life on Mars is very weak5—like claiming that the discovery of aluminum ore on Mars is evidence that ancient Martians built space shuttles. Scientists have not found life on Mars. And although they think they have found evidence of past surface water, they can only speculate about present subsurface water. But water cannot produce life. Even if microbial life were eventually found on Mars, its existence would still require a miracle.


  1. Choi, C. Q. Giant Mars Crater Shows Evidence of Ancient Lake. Posted on January 21, 2013, accessed January 21, 2013.
  2. Michalski, J. R. et al. 2013. Groundwater activity on Mars and implications for a deep biosphere. Nature Geoscience. 6 (2): 133-138.
  3. Sarfati, J. 1998. Origin of life: the polymerization problem. Journal of Creation. 12 (3): 281-284).
  4. Psarris, S. 2009. DVD. What You Aren't Being Told About Astronomy, Volume 1: Our Created Solar System. Creation Astronomy Media.
  5. 'Strongest evidence yet to there being life on Mars.' The Telegraph. Posted on January 20, 2013, accessed January 21, 2013.

Image credit: NASA

* Dr. Hebert is Research Associate at the Institute for Creation Research and received his Ph.D. in Physics from the University of Texas at Dallas.

Article posted on February 8, 2013.

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