If We Found Life on Mars

For decades now, scientists and researchers have been tirelessly working towards the goal of finding life outside of earth’s atmosphere. I read an article recently that had the scientific community in a state of excitement: They discovered what seemed to be evidence indicating that Mars once had water. And as we all know, where there’s water, there could be life.

But what is “life”, exactly? What constitutes a living thing in the scope of science? Well, the geniuses at NASA provides us with this definition:

Living things tend to be complex and highly organized. They have the ability to take in energy from the environment and transform it for growth and reproduction. Organisms tend toward homeostasis: an equilibrium of parameters that define their internal environment. Living creatures respond, and their stimulation fosters a reaction-like motion, recoil, and in advanced forms, learning. Life is reproductive, as some kind of copying is needed for evolution to take hold through a population’s mutation and natural selection. To grow and develop, living creatures need foremost to be consumers, since growth includes changing biomass, creating new individuals, and the shedding of waste.  (Astrobiology Magazine, NASA)

In layman’s terms, then, for something to be identified as a life-form, the key factors are that it must consume, grow, reproduce, react and respond, and learn. And if it is ever determined that there is life on distant planets, researchers say that it would be the “beginning of an entirely new chapter in scientific history.” To date, there have been over forty spacecraft launched and an estimated 3.6 billion dollars was spent in 2012 alone to research the possibility of life on Mars.

DO NOT DISTURB-

In 1967, a United Nations treaty suggested a rigorous set of rules called “planetary protection” guidelines that would promote the protection of the potential life that might exist in the regions of space being explored by earth. In our search for microbial life-forms, careful steps are taken that would prevent us from bringing harmful foreign bacteria of our own and contaminating alien environments. The idea is that since the life that might be found would be so valuable and fragile, every possible safeguard must be adopted in order to promote and protect that life and to avoid brining harm to Mars’ ecosystem.

LIFE OUT THERE & LIFE IN HERE-

Ironically, just six years after declaring the importance of following the planetary protection guidelines for the safety of potential microbial life on Mars, the United States Supreme Court ruled in the Roe v Wade decision that human life was not so valuable as to protect it at any cost. Although an unborn human possesses all the characteristics that makes up the definition of “life” according to NASA- consuming energy and nourishment for the reproduction of cells for growth- our society has somehow reduced the significance of our own existence while simultaneously elevating the value of lesser life-forms.

It doesn’t take much to recognize the clear inconsistency and logical fallacy in attempting to defend the right to abortion. Unborn babies are living human beings, and to terminate pregnancy is nothing short of murder in the cruelest sense. But I want to suggest that our debate over this issue has little to do with the scientific discoveries, but everything to do with our spiritual realities.

IMAGO DEI-

Then God said,  “Let us make man in our image,  after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”  So God created man in his own image,   in the image of God he created him;  male and female he created them.  –Genesis 1:26-27

When humanity begins to see itself as nothing more than the consequence of cosmic chance, it should not be surprising then that we perceive ourselves with little regard or value. If the human race is simply an advanced form of the microscopic crater creature that we’re so desperate to find, then it’s really no surprise that we treat our unborn with such indifference.

But our complete lack of worth as humans, and our failure to recognize the immeasurable value of life stems from our ignorance of a great biblical truth: We are made in God’s image, and for God’s glory. Scripture tells us that God made us unique, special, and for a purpose. Out of all of creation, God is said to make men and women in the Imago Dei (“the Image of God”), and that humanity bears the signs of His own character and nature. We were made for relationship, both with our Maker and with each other. We were designed to reflect His glory and beauty, and to enjoy life and its blessings under His grace and guidance.

Scripture also tells us that all of life comes from God

For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well. My frame was not hidden from you when I was made in the secret place, when I was woven together in the depths of the earth. Your eyes saw my unformed body; all the days ordained for me were written in your book before one of them came to be.  –Psalm 139:13-16

ALL LIVES MATTER-

Conception is no “accident”, no matter the consequences that surround a pregnancy. It is God who gives life, period. Only God can ordain that a living soul will come into existence, and no life exists apart from His sovereign will and decree. Simply look through the pages of Scripture to see the many instances when a life was conceived only through the power of God in giving life: Sarah conceived Isaac in her old age; Rebekah was barren when she conceived Jacob and Esau; Samson was born of a sterile woman; Hannah brought forth Samuel from a closed womb; Elizabeth was an old woman when she gave birth to John the Baptist; and God placed His Son Jesus into the womb of a virgin to remind us that “Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made. In him was life, and that life was the light of all mankind” (John 1:3-4).

So, would it be amazing to one day discover some strange alien organism lurking under a rock on another planet? Sure! But should we consider that life more important or valuable than the life of one made in the Image of God growing inside the womb of its mother? Of course we shouldn’t. Because although all life finds its source and origin with our Creator God, the Bible plainly teaches that mankind is special, and the very object of His love and redemption in Jesus Christ.

Are not two sparrows sold for a penny? Yet not one of them will fall to the ground outside your Father’s care. And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. So don’t be afraid; you are worth more than many sparrows.  –Matthew 10:29-31

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