Water on Mars–Is Life Next? How about Pizza?

“Water could be flowing on Mars today.” The headline on Nature’s Web site on December 6, 2006, represented one of countless leads heralding the scientific breakthrough. When people hear about water on Mars, they almost instantly jump to life. What exactly was discovered, and what are the implications for biblical creation? Will naturalistic evolution be proven after all? Researchers showed photographs captured by the Mars Global Surveyor of gullies on the Martian surface that must have grown in the past seven years. The scientists’ confidence in the timing stems from comparisons of photographs taken from the identical locations over the past seven years. This gully growth is “highly suggestive” of recent water flows. Seeing attractive pictures of Martian gullies from the comfort of our family rooms belies the planet’s hostile conditions. Any water flows on Mars would have lasted only seconds, due to extremely cold and dry conditions. Plus, as the NASA scientists stated, the amount of water involved is on the order of five to ten swimming pools, not the vast oceans that some people might envision. As you probably know, Reasons To Believe scholars have commented for years on the “follow the water” strategy. (Check out some of the articles below.) Very briefly, water is one of hundreds of physical and chemical ingredients required for life’s ongoing existence (to say nothing of its origin). Even if one were to grant a long-standing liquid water supply, the connection to life commits what astrophysicist Paul Davies has called the “ingredients fallacy.” This logical error fails to recognize that an abundance of life’s ingredients in the universe does not guarantee the presence of life any more than an abundance of silicon ensures that laptop computers should be floating around the cosmos. As an average guy, I think I understand, but it helps even more to bring it home to something I can really relate to: FOOD. I often open the refrigerator and find a can of pizza dough staring at me. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve wished it were really pizza— soft, hot, and tasty. The ingredients are all floating around in the fridge, but someone has to put them together. My wife is just as busy as I am—in fact, busier—so the dough just sits there until someone “designs” it. Water on Mars may one day be commonplace (scientists suggest subterranean sources), but I’d definitely be impressed if they happen to find a hot, thick-crust, extra-large supreme pizza.

Resources: Here’s a Mars overview containing many resources: interviews, articles, books, videos. And, for the meat-lovers, here are several good articles with more meat than the above column.