News this past week from NASA reveals a discovery on Mars. 3-billion-year-old rocks show organic molecules. The rocks were on the bottom of what most believe to be an ancient lake bed similar to Florida's shallow Lake Okeechobee. This is a big discovery.
I have a friend, Lucas, who is an astrobiologist. He probably knows a lot more about this discovery than I do. Lucas told me in seminary that one difficulty in being an astrobiologist is determining what life is and is not. Once we can define life we then can look for things that meet that definition in space. He bases his view of life entirely on Earth; he believes we can only define it based on what we know. And one thing we know about life is that it makes more life. Life begets life, if you will.
We have a hanging plant in our backyard. One day, a shoot of some unknown weed was seen three inches above the flowers. We wanted to see what it would do so we left it alone. It kept growing until it was touching the hook holding the entire flower pot. We didn't plant it but it must have come in from somewhere. Lucas would call this life. A bunch of grass is growing in the most unlikely place, next to the curb at the corner of 1st and L Street. I've been watching it for months. It is now a three-foot wide swath of five-inch tall grass growing amongst a sea of concrete; cars run it over probably six times an hour. That's life. We know it's life because it is begetting in a most inhospitable place.
Back to Mars, an astrobiologist associated with the latest finding said that she's fascinated by the idea that life never really got started there. It would not take long for any alien probe to find life on Earth. Even if the probe landed at the bottom of the deepest ocean, it would find life. In the middle of Death Valley, it would find life. Even if it landed in the boiling hot sulfur lakes in Yellowstone, it would still find life. That is because life is abundant and it grows in the most unlikely places. Nevertheless, we have spent billions of dollars and countless hours looking for life on Mars and have yet to find it like we can at 1st and L.
I would never say we should give up on Mars. A fascinating piece of evidence shows seasonal methane gas increases in the Martian atmosphere. On Earth, methane is produced by organic, living matter. If you've ever been around a cow pasture, you'll know what I'm talking about. Notwithstanding, methane can also be produced geologically so even this piece of evidence raises doubts.
For me, theologically speaking, I believe that there is life out there because God is a God of Life. I also believe, as science has shown, God uses the same DNA building blocks in all of life. Scientists can take a DNA strand from a salmon and implant it into a strawberry to make it transport better from the farm to the table. We're made from all the same stuff. I believe that God's fingerprint is in the DNA of all life and therefore, if/when life is found on Mars, it comes from the same source. Life is abundant on Earth. God is the master of abundance. God created all things. Therefore, when astro-biological life is found, we will find it in abundance.