Missions to the surface of Mars have been plagued with problems. On Christmas Day, 25 December 2003, the European Space Agency sent its first lander—Beagle 2— barreling to the Martian surface, but it failed to make radio contact. Tonight at 9:45 EST, the first of two US rovers—Spirit—is set to land on Mars. Will the mission succeed?
The answer depends on your definition of “success.”
If success means gathering new data about our mysterious neighbor, then may the mission enjoy every success! But gathering “data” is not what drives these missions. Governments don’t spend hundreds of millions of dollars just to take images of a handful of rocks 300 million miles away.
The name Beagle 2 is a not-so-subtle reminder of the motive behind these modern missions. Just as Darwin’s ship the Beagle took him on an odyssey to the New World and provided him with data to build his evolutionary theory of the origin of life, so too do these modern voyages seek further “evidence” to bolster an anti-biblical view of the origin of the planets—and of life. They hope to find evidence of living organisms, or at least their one-time presence on the “red planet.” As the previous hype about the alleged fossil bacteria in the “Mars rock” (now debunked) demonstrated, life on Mars would be taken as evidence that it can evolve anywhere the conditions are right. AiG has long said that any micro-organisms found on Mars, which is highly unlikely, will be the result of Earth-life contamination/seeding.
Will they find evidence of water?
The US rovers are also looking for hints of minerals formed by the action of water, in the belief that any evidence of water makes it more likely for life to have evolved there at some time.
The 1997 Mars Pathfinder mission wowed the world with its images and evidence of a watery catastrophe that would have rivaled Noah’s Flood. See Water on Mars: A Creationist Response.
But what does water tell us?
It certainly does not help bridge the infinite gap between H20 and DNA molecules; nor does it explain how the information for creating tens of thousands of proteins was stored into these molecules (see Dazzling Design in Miniature).
Finding water on Mars doesn’t inform us of the planet’s geological history, which can never be observed. The Bible itself implies a watery origin of all things (Genesis 1:2, 6-10; 2 Peter 3:5).
These missions to Mars were doomed to failure, even before they began. No matter what scientists find, the data will not confirm evolution or millions of years.
The Bible—God’s eyewitness account of the origin of life, the planets and the universe—already tells us that He created the earth before the sun, and He created the other heavenly bodies (including planets) on the same day as the sun. Nothing that the Mars rovers find will ever contradict God’s account of history.
It is amazing how brilliant scientists clutch at the slightest evidence for life—or a worldwide Flood—on Mars (see Life on Mars?). But they refuse to see the evidence all around them on their own planet, showing the design and handiwork of a Creator who later judged the earth with a Flood that laid down fossils in rock layers all over the earth. The Bible says their ignorance is willful (2 Peter 3:5).
The Mars missions show the power of preconceived ideas to cloud our thinking. The battle for understanding life is not about new data, but a correct foundation for understanding the world(s)—God’s written Word (see Searching for the “Magic Bullet”).