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The Times: “Evidence of Life on Mars Lurks Beneath Surface of Meteorite, Nasa Experts Claim” Is there life on Mars? Some of this week’s biggest “news” is also this week’s oldest news.
A quarter of a century ago, a team of scientists discovered a meteorite in the Allan Hills of Antarctica that was given the name ALH 84001. Its origin was identified as Mars, the story being that an asteroid had hit Mars, breaking off the fragment and hurtling it into space some 16 million years ago. Eventually the fragment was captured by Earth’s gravity and landed in Antarctica 13,000 years ago, the story goes.
Investigators discovered microscopic structures resembling life on the rock.
A little more than a decade after it was discovered, investigators discovered microscopic structures resembling life on the rock. Due to the meteorite’s alleged Martian origin, the team claimed it was evidence of not simply life on Mars, but that life on Earth began with just such an interplanetary journey. The claim was met with skepticism from all sides, however; scientists pointed out that the microscopic structures were not necessarily biological.
But the discovering scientists didn’t give up. David Mackay of NASA’s Johnson Space Center was part of the team that first examined ALH 84001. He still claims the meteorite is “very strong evidence of life on Mars,” and that claim is now buttressed by a new analysis of the rock conducted via electron microscope.
The new research took a closer look (literally) at magnetite crystals on the surface layers of ALH 84001, which “have the form of simple bacteria,” the Times reports. Could the crystals be the remains of carbon-based bacteria? The research indicates that “about 25 per cent of the crystal structures were chemically consistent with being formed from bacteria.” Apparently that evidence was strong enough to warrant this statement from Times journalist Hannah Devlin: “[The research] showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria” (our emphasis). Really?
Although nothing scriptural absolutely rules out the idea that God could have created microbial forms on Mars, we are quite skeptical of the “alien” interpretation of ALH 84001. Our skepticism is both because the Bible clearly implies a lack of alien life (or, at the very least, intelligent alien life) and because the research into ALH 84001 appear to be biased by evolutionary hopes. Consider these points:
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