Life on Mars?


False or unsubstantiated rumors, once established, achieve a life of their own. One example is that life has been found on Mars.

Those who support the idea of Martian life do so mainly because of the Mars meteorite mania of August 1996. It was then that the world was stunned to hear that primitive life may have existed on the Red Planet. A meteorite (ALH 84001), thought to have originated on Mars and plucked from an Antarctic ice field in 1984, allegedly had possible signs of fossil bacteria. But the claim was bogus, recognized by many as a NASA ploy to drum up more interest in space research, which would shore up their sagging budget. A wealth of scientific articles have appeared since then refuting every claim made by NASA. Unfortunately, the news hasn’t been passed on to the many who believed the original claim.

But even if they were signs of life, does this prove life on Mars? Consider the following recent quotes:

“Bacteria can infiltrate Antarctic rocks and become fossilized there. Even if researchers find an indisputable genuine fossil bacterium in ALH 84001, it may be hard to prove that it lived on Mars rather than on Earth.” (Sky & Telescope, April, 1999, pp. 56–57.)

Furthermore, if scientists were to find clear, unmistakable fossilized bacteria in a meteorite (or soil) from Mars in the future, it doesn’t necessarily mean such bacteria evolved from non-life over millions of years. Applying uniformitarian assumptions, secular scientists conclude: “Just as the Mars meteorite . . . is thought to have been tainted by Earthly bacteria, samples from Mars, too, may not be what they seem . . . We think there’s about 7 million tons of earth soil sitting on Mars,” says Kenneth Nealson, a microbiologist with NASA. “You have to consider the possibility that if we find life on Mars, it could have come from Earth.” (Newsweek, September 21, 1998, p. 12.)

Christians should keep three things in mind regarding this whole issue:

  1. Life has never been found on the planet Mars. Doubts continue to grow regarding fossilized bacteria in the meteorite from Mars.
  2. If some day life were to be found on Mars, there would be good reason to believe it may have come from Earth, possibly having been blasted there by asteroid impact during the Flood of Noah’s day.
  3. Given the amazing complexity of life, wherever life is found, it had to have been created by an intelligent Designer.

Cite this article: Sherwin, F. 1999. Life on Mars? Acts & Facts. 28 (4).