Looking for God on Mars
News Flash: “Evidence of God Particle found” (AP, Geneva, July 2, 2012). I’m reminded of the old song, “Lookin’ for Love in All the Wrong Places,” made famous in the movie Urban Cowboy and sung by Johnny Lee. Lookin’ for the so-called God Particle or finding evidence of ancient life on Mars are exciting pursuits to which billions of dollars now flow. Besides the obvious scientific value there lurks a deeper quest: to “prove” that life didn’t start on earth and that God isn’t needed to explain how everything came into being. Some folks seem intent on chasing God to prove he can’t be found; others chase after God to find and be found by Him. What will Mars tell us?
By Ken Westby
It’s an old country music tune and that’s not my favorite genre of music, but the words seem to fit something that has been going on since Darwin’s dream captured men’s fancy: finding that God doesn’t exist and being happy at that discovery.
I’ve spent a lifetime lookin’ for you.
Single bars and good time lovers were never true.
Playin’ the fools game hoping to win.
And telling those sweet lies and losing again!
Looking for love in all the wrong places.
Looking for love in too many faces.
Searching their eyes, looking for traces
Of what I’m dreaming of.
Last night I watched the crowded control room of the Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena as it exploded in cheers at the successful landing of Curiosity the latest Mars rover sent from earth to explore Mars. It was a stupendous accomplishment and we must stand in awe at the creative mind God gave mankind that he could do such things—Mars, 35 to 250 million miles away from earth in its elliptical orbit! (The sun is a more or less steady 93 million miles from earth.) Exploring God’s creation, in my opinion, is money well-spent. But the motivation behind many of today’s most costly scientific projects is not what it used to be in the days of Sir Isaac Newton who observed, “This most beautiful system of the sun, planets, and comets could only proceed from the counsel and domain of an intelligent and powerful Being.”
The founders and pioneers in modern science were predominately Bible believers, not humanistic materialists. The long list includes Galileo Galilei, Roger Bacon, Nicolaus Copernicus, Michael Servetus, Michael Faraday, George Mendel, Louis Pasteur, and Robert Boyle (who said the study of science could improve our ability to glorify God), and many more. (See a partial list of the hundreds of Christian & Jewish thinkers who developed and founded modern science at: wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Christian_thinkers_in_science.)
These greats of science were amazed at the complexity and vastness of the created order of laws and elements and life and for them investigating creation was a look into the handiwork of God and to some degree an insight into God himself.
Modern scientific investigation often approaches the cosmos with equal curiosity and enthusiasm, but not to find or understand its Maker, but to demonstrate that the cosmos had no Maker at all and there is no longer a need for the myth of God.
Of course, not all scientists are agnostic or atheists, but it is dominated by materialists, thoroughly secular and naturalistic in their world view, who also regard bible belief with hostility. They see belief in supernatural creation as an enemy belief. Even the new field of Intelligent Design, a thoroughly scientific approach to explaining the complexities of creation, is seen as a threat to their doctrine that no God is needed for anything, anywhere, anytime. It is a faith-belief that goes beyond evidence and is in fact, religious.
It is important for evolutionary science to find something, anything, that seems to say: “There, the Bible is false, maybe this (latest dug-up bone, Piltdown Man, Peppered Moths, God Particle, or whatever) is how the cosmos and life evolved and see, no God was needed.” So far, like the song, it has been a “fool’s game.”
The God Particle
We’ve heard a lot about it of late but don’t be confused by the name. It is a joke, a nickname used from a book[i] describing this subatomic particle (a quark) called the Higgs bosom after the man who proposed its existence, Peter Higgs. It doesn’t imply anything about God except that this as-yet-unseen “particle” might be the key to how all things are held together, move, and have “mass” –properties that can be seen and weighed. The name really says that this particle, not God, is the mystery power behind how the cosmos works. This theory is one of many intended to replace any logical need for God. There are particles that have measurable mass like neutrons and protons and those like photons (also a quark) that do not. This so-called God Particle is believed to be the mysterious thing that gives mass to matter. Granted, much of this is still quite theoretical, yet the huge underground Hadron Particle Collider on the Swiss-French border is a multi-billion dollar investment to find this elusive particle.
For the present it remains a mystery to physicists. Its existence is sure and the effects of its footprint can be measured, but so far it has evaded sighting or capture. It is estimated that in the time you took to read this article billions of these particles would have passed through your body…ouch.
This is exciting stuff. To think that the sub-atomic building blocks the Creator uses have been detected. They are terribly fast and terribly tiny and apparently, terribly powerful. How does the Higgs boson relate to Dark Matter and Dark Energy—great forces that make up 95% of the cosmos that cannot be seen? And how about gravity which for the most part still remains a mystery? Are there gravity “particles” (gravitons) that exert force? They too have eluded sighting or capture, but their footprint and shadow is everywhere felt. Gravitons must travel at hyper velocities (virtually instantly) making the speed of light seem like a sloth strolling by comparison. Ah, what a marvelous universe of mysteries to explore!
Of What Are Evolutionists Afraid?
The big problem for materialistic science would be to discover some design or purpose to things for that brings one to the obvious logic that a designer must be out there in charge—a scary prospect for an atheist and one that must be avoided at all costs. Perhaps Mars will help their case.
It works like this: Looking for and finding some evidence of life—tiny, ancient, it doesn’t matter—will drive the stake in the heart of the biblical story. Finding life on Mars for the atheistic community is akin to not finding God. In this contrived logic life on Mars becomes a proof that the Bible is wrong and consequently the Bible’s God doesn’t exist. What a champagne-popping a triumph that would be.
The materialist’s assumption is that the Bible demands that life can only be on earth. While the focus of Scripture is directed to the thinking people on planet earth, and has little interest in discussing life and events before Genesis One, what iron law forbids the Creator of Life from doing what he does best anywhere in his vast, apparently limitless cosmos?
So far no evidence of life forms has been discovered outside our beautiful planet, but if in time some is what will that prove? God didn’t just make Earth, he made an array of ten hundred billion galaxies each with ten hundred billion stars and planets beyond number. Even these numbers are scientific guesses for it seem the more powerful our instruments of detection are, the ever more vast our cosmos appears.
There is life everywhere in our universe albeit the carbon-based life on earth has only been experienced on earth. Those of us who respect the veracity of Scripture accept that the cosmos has been filled with intelligent life of an angelic kind for countless eons before Adam and Eve breathed their first oxygen from God’s mouth. Life of one sort or another fill the domain of God’s creation.
A Purpose for Everything
If God has made other man-like creatures on Mars or anywhere else, I’ve not seen any suggestion of it in the Bible. Sure, he could have made a man and a woman anywhere on his property, and he owns it all, but he tells us that he prepared the earth specifically for that purpose. The record of history and anthropology seems to confirm that.
What is unique is God’s description of man’s creation in His Image. That is pictured as an earth-bound event in a sanctuary garden called Eden. Man is a creature of the earth from which he was formed and to survive he must take some of the earth with him (food, water, air, etc.) wherever he might journey beyond its realm.
View the fine film, The Privileged Planet[ii] or read the book of the same title to learn that the earth is perfectly positioned in our Milky Way to support life. It is called by scientists the sweet spot: right size sun, right distance from other suns, right size moon (same size in the sky as the sun), right position in the Milky Way where other locations could not support life, and our Milky Way in the right position for the forces exerted upon it from the other moving galaxies, and the list goes on. The earth was purposed as The Privileged Planet to host those made in God’s Image.
Ah, “purpose,” that is a bad word to secularists. Purpose implies a plan and a plan implies a planner, and bang, we’re back to the God issue again. So the scientists develop a vocabulary and speaking protocol that dances around all the evidence that point to purpose, or design, or intelligence, or the miraculous. It is a learned discipline and takes a lot of around-the-barn talk, to hide the obvious while talking long about the details.
The organization of galaxies is a level of complexity that rivals the human body itself—irreducible complexity (an eye for example can’t “evolve” as it must have millions of parts organized for sight or it doesn’t work—no need to gradually evolve if no “evolutionary benefit” is realized) of which our body has thousands of systems of sophistication impossible to achieve by the accident of evolution or the random results of a “big bang,” but must be the product of towering intelligent design. There exists a constellation of laws that govern all matter—seen and unseen–what could be called a living, dynamic universe. The laws of physics didn’t invent themselves and they come forth from forces and powers that are truly supernatural.
Evolutionists are afraid that one day their “religion” will be seen for the myth that it is and they will have to face facts…and God. Meanwhile they must keep busy making sport of creationists and chasing their rainbow hoping to find at its base proof that God doesn’t exist. Hello Mars.
Take Dark Matter as a case in point of the design complexity of the universe. The matter that can be seen or detected (stars, planets, space dust, etc.) is not anywhere massive enough to account for the gravitational forces and other energy forces operating in the universe. For many decades physicists have been mesmerized and dogged in pursuing what has come to be called dark matter. Dark because it can’t be seen and evades detection yet it obviously exists by the forces it exerts.
The latest estimates are that the composition of the universe is: 70% dark energy, 25% dark matter, 5% normal matter that can be observed such as stars. So, about 95% of the Universe is composed of unseen energy and matter. Does that give you a different picture of what is “out there,” what is holding everything together and making it function according to laws of physics? Giving it a name doesn’t solve the mystery.
It is sometimes explained as a dynamical energy fluid or field that fills space but operates differently from normal matter and energy. It has also been called quintessense, meaning the fifth element suggested by Greek philosophers. Ideas of gravity have been called into question and Einstein’s theory of gravity may be incorrect. Confused? Mystified? Well, so is the scientific world.
I’m reminded of the phrase in Colossians 1:16 where God’s creation is discussed and it includes “things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible.” Paul didn’t have the Higgs bosom particle in mind or dark matter, per se, but allowed that most of what God created is unseen though just as real as what is seen.
Why the need to find life on Mars? Are we lonely on earth? Is there not enough life on our planet to keep us enthralled? Do we know everything there is to know about life in its millions of forms and functions that we now have to move on? I don’t think that is the case. Sure, curiosity is there and discovery is challenging and fun, but this push to find life, even tiny micro-biotic life somewhere other than earth is evolution’s search for the Holy Grail.
Scientists have been re-plowing soil sample tests done by the Viking 1 Mars lander in 1976 and now think they may have read them wrong. Regardless, they are 99% sure that there is life on Mars. “The ultimate proof is to take a video of a Martian bacteria. They should send a microscope — watch the bacteria move,” said Joseph Miller of USC’s Keck School of Medicine. Well, maybe there will be one on the next mission landing which is scheduled for 2016.
Why the Rage Against God?
Evolution proposes a Godless emptiness which helps to explain why such atheistic anti-Christian states like Communist China and the old Soviet Union are so chaotic and so murderously cruel to their own people. There is no God holding them accountable; no morality that says they can’t do what they want to do.
Peter Hitchins, British journalist and brother to the famous spokesman for atheism, the late Christopher Hitchins, was himself an avowed atheist for much of his life until he returned to Christianity. He writes movingly of his journey into unbelief in his excellent book: The Rage Against God: How atheism led me to faith.[iii]
“I set fire to my Bible on the playing fields of my Cambridge boarding school one bright, windy spring afternoon in 1967. I was fifteen years old. The book did not, as I had hoped, blaze fiercely and swiftly. Only after much blowing and encouragement did I manage to get it to ignite at all, and I was left with a disagreeable, half-charred mess. Most of my small invited audience drifted away long before I had finished, disappointed by the anticlimax and the pettiness of the thing. Thunder did not mutter. It would be many years before I would feel a slight shiver of unease about my act of desecration. Did I then have any idea of the forces I was trifling with?
“I was engaged at the time in a full, perfect, and complete rebellion against everything I had been brought up to believe.”
Hitchins described the years that followed as his “Godless period” when he moved with “arrogance, adolescent petulance, ingratitude, cruelty, and insensitivity.” He is a candid writer and he did come, like The Prodigal, back to God, back to the Bible and back to reason and peace. Hitchins’ comments on The Prodigal parable from Luke 14 are rich.
“Now of all the parables, this one has been the most disturbing for me from the moment I encountered it, which I did—as few do now—in the ringing, unforgettable poetry of the King James Version, which fills the mind with vivid pictures. I could not have known, when I first heard that parable how much it would eventually apply to me with direct personal force, and in how many ways. But it went home, deep and hard, all the same. I almost know it by heart, and cannot pass a beech tree in autumn, with a litter of nuts about it, without the words, “He would fain have filled his belly with the husks that the swine did eat,” coming to mind.”
When Hitchens’ life was in period of personal turmoil he one day found himself in Washington D.C. with time between flight connections. He visited the Museum of Art and there was a startlingly pessimistic version of The Prodigal Son by the painter Thomas Hart Benton. It looked like a coming home scene from John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath. A frightening contrast to the happy scene that emerges from the hopeful parable Jesus spoke. Hitchins describes this painting which for him seemed a dire, personal warning.
“He has come home too late. Nobody has seen him from afar off and run joyfully to meet him. There will be no forgiveness, no best robe, no ring, no “music and dancing.” He stands in his shabby clothes with his poor, roped suitcase. A beaten-up car—the last trace of his squandered wealth—is parked in the background. He is gaping, with his hand to his mouth, at the ruin of the family homestead, ruin caused by his own greed and wastefulness. He looks as if it is just dawning on him that he is stupid and cruel and without hope. The light is failing in a chilly sky beneath wind-ripped, twisted clouds. Instead of a fatted calf, there is a stark, white animal skeleton, the skull horned, lying in the untended grass. We can guess at the grief, resignation, and failure that have overtaken the family and its home during his heedless absence. Who can he blame for it but himself? The desolation is infinite.”
Looking Over the Highest Rock
Reading Peter Hitchins’ description of the fool’s empty life and the grief he caused made me think of what damage has been wrought by godless evolution. It is a theory straight from the pit of hell and the damage it has caused is beyond calculation. We sinners can cling to the hope Jesus’ parable offers, but the road from unbelief to belief is a road less traveled these days. One day there will be an epiphany and men will no longer be looking for God for his kingdom in all the wrong places, for it will fill the earth. At that time Yahweh will let his servants (and scientists) in on the secrets that mystify:
“This is what the Yahweh says, he who made the earth, Yahweh who formed it and established it—Yahweh is his name: Call to me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know” (Jeremiah 33:2-3).
Robert Jastrow, founder of NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, is a world famous astronomer and professor at Dartmouth and Columbia universities. His oft-quoted statement in God and the Astronomers contains concepts our Mars explorers should keep in mind.
“A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe; but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation.
“This is an exceedingly strange development, unexpected by all but the theologians. They have always accepted the word of the Bible: in the beginning God created heaven and earth…. At this moment it seems as though science will never be able to raise the curtain on the mystery of creation. For the scientist who has lived by his faith in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance; he is about to conquer the highest peak; as he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.”[iv]
There will be no little green Martian Men curiously looking over a high rock at Curiosity, but back on earth evolutionists are still putting their faith in a bad dream.
“’You will seek me and find me when you seek me with all your heart. I will be found by you’, declares Yahweh” (Jeremiah 28:13-14).[i] The God Particle: If the Universe is the Answer, What Is the Question? By Leon Lederman.[ii] The Privileged Planet: How our place in the cosmos is designed for discovery, Guillermo Gonzales and Jay w. Richards, Regnery Publishing, 2004, 444 pages.[iii] The Rage Against God, Peter Hitchins, Zondervan, 2010, 224 pages.[iv] Jastrow, God and the Astronomers, pp. 115-16 (quoted in The Creation Hypothesis by J. P. Moreland)
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