Potential Hydrocarbons on Hyperion

on July 7, 2007

PhysOrg.com: “Cassini Finds Hydrocarbons on Saturn's Moon Hyperion

Our ongoing Search for Terrestrial Intelligence turns up a new source of hyperactivity this week: NASA scientists’ recent assertion that Saturn’s moon Hyperion is home to “cup-like craters filled with hydrocarbons that may indicate more widespread presence in our solar system of basic chemicals necessary for life.” This assertion is based on a 2005 Cassini flyby of Hyperion, as PhysOrg.com recounts:

This “dark material” has some scientists giddy.

[E]ven if the substances are hydrocarbons, that would be a far cry from the existence of life (as Cruikshank points out), just as finding a pile of steel is considerably different than finding an automobile.
Hyperion yielded some of its secrets to the battery of instruments aboard Cassini as the spacecraft flew close by in September 2005. Water and carbon dioxide ices were found, as well as dark material that fits the spectral profile of hydrocarbons.

This “dark material” has some scientists giddy; NASA planetary scientist Dale Cruikshank, lead author of a Nature paper on the flyby’s observations, offers his view:

“These molecules, when embedded in ice and exposed to ultraviolet light, form new molecules of biological significance. This doesn’t mean that we have found life, but it is a further indication that the basic chemistry needed for life is widespread in the universe.”

Of course, the scientists not only have not found life; they also have not found organic molecules, but merely material that fits hydrocarbons’ spectral profiles; even if the substances are hydrocarbons, that would be a far cry from the existence of life (as Cruikshank points out), just as finding a pile of steel is considerably different than finding an automobile.

As for any evolutionists who would cite finds such as this as evidence against divine creation, we simply question the implication that the Creator was forbidden from creating certain molecules wherever He wished.

In related Search for Terrestrial Intelligence news, take a peek at an article explaining how a glimpse “before the big bang” may be possible according to one physicist. With the big bang already leaning on shaky science and unprovable assumptions, we’d say it’s a noticeable contradiction for researchers who supposedly repudiate the “faith” inherent in creation science to take such overt leaps of faith themselves—into their own “time before time.”


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Answers in Genesis is an apologetics ministry, dedicated to helping Christians defend their faith and proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ effectively. We focus on providing answers to questions about the Bible—particularly the book of Genesis—regarding key issues such as creation, evolution, science, and the age of the earth.