It seems highly likely, given the number of planets potentially capable of supporting life, that we are not alone in the universe. For the first time scientists have found evidence to suggest that extra-terrestrial life does indeed exist. The story posted at The Times Online talks of evidence within martian rock of bacteria having once existed and fossilised.
It showed that microscopic worm-like structures found in a Martian meteorite that hit the Earth 13,000 years ago are almost certainly fossilised bacteria. The so-called bio-morphs are embedded beneath the surface layers of the rock, suggesting that they were already present when the meteorite arrived, rather than being the result of subsequent contamination by Earthly bacteria.
This is being described by the scientists involved as “strong” evidence for Martian life.
Whilst clearly fascinating from a scientific point of view, I’ve always wondered what impact the discovery of extra-terrestrial life would have on religion (just for the sake of clarity, I’m not claiming this is a discovery of extra-terrestrial life).
In particular, how does the existence of extra-terrestrial life fit in with the Genesis account of creation? It could be interpreted such that “earth” refers to any solid land mass, regardless of planet (how else would the existence of planets be described?) or that everything extra-terrestrial could be considered to be part of “heaven”. Of course, these are questions on the literal interpretation of the Bible, which, as we all know, is not quite as popular as it used to be (Genesis in particular).
The question is pertinent for scientists as well. What impact would the discovery of extra-terrestrial life have on modern day science? I suspect the answer to both questions would be dependant on the stage of development that life is in. If the discovered life forms had developed faculties such as cognitive reasoning, would we look to them for guidance? What if they had no concept of a God? What if they could accurately explain the origin of the universe, beyond doubt? Or what if they did believe in Gods, and what if they were different to the popular “earth” Gods? What if they weren’t?
We live in such exciting times.
Alien image by Mujitra. Picture is not of Martian bacteria, in case you hadn’t guessed.