Take Me To Your Leader

"Take me to your leader." Remember those words from the corny science fiction films of the fifties? They featured bald, ET-like Martians who plotted to take over the world. But the real Martian invasion turned out to be a lot less dramatic. A few weeks ago, NASA scientists announced they may have found evidence of life from Mars: organic molecules embedded in a meteorite found in Antarctica. The press instantly went into orbit, and even President Clinton hailed the discovery as significant. The reason for all the hoopla is that life on other planets has been long considered potential confirmation of the naturalistic worldview--the theory that life arose by purely natural forces. Writing in the New Yorker, science journalist Timothy Ferris argues that if organisms existed on Mars, then "life, far from being a singular miracle" on Earth, may in fact be the routine consequence of certain planetary conditions. Life on Mars, Ferris argues, would prove that life starts "routinely," whenever conditions are right, on Earth, Mars, or anywhere else. If Martian life did exist, some would say it would seem to tip the balance in favor of naturalism instead of a creator. But would life on other planets prove there is no God? Not at all. There are no known natural laws that can create living forms on Earth or Mars or anywhere else in the universe. Imagine you were from a Stone Age culture and saw a computer for the first time. You would have no idea how such a complex structure was put together. Now, if someone came and gave you a second computer, would that help you solve the problem? Of course not. No mystery was ever solved by adding a second mystery. In the same way, if the origin of life on Earth is a mystery, then finding life somewhere else does nothing to solve the mystery. The simplest living things are astonishing in their complexity. If life, even tiny bacteria, existed on Mars, it would doubtless be every bit as intricate as the familiar organisms all around us--far beyond anything purely natural laws can explain. Christians believe that wherever life occurs, it was created by a personal God. As biologist and philosopher Paul Nelson puts it, "The intelligent design claim is not that life is restricted to earth. It's that wherever life occurs, it's created by intelligence." The scriptures say nothing about whether life forms exist anywhere else in the universe. Historically, many Christians have found it perfectly possible that life existed on other planets. C. S. Lewis wrote that the universe "may be quite full of life" and argues that we humans have no right to prescribe limits to God's interests. The molecules in the rock found in Antarctica may or may not really indicate traces of life. Many scientists remain skeptical. This side of heaven, we may never have an answer regarding the question of whether life exists on other planets. But wherever life exists, we can be sure of one thing: It was not the product of natural forces but of an intelligent Creator.


Chuck Colson



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