Life on Mars and the Garden of Eden

Life on Mars and the Garden of Eden

None of the 66 books of the Bible makes any reference to life other than that created by God here on Earth in that six-day period. 

| This article originally appeared on the Huffington Post / by Jeff Schweitzer.

The latest Mars rover, Curiosity, will land on the Red Planet in a few days, if all goes well. Should Curiosity find evidence of past life on Mars, allow me to preempt what will certainly be a rewrite of history on the part of the world’s major religions. All will come out and say such a discovery is completely consistent with religious teachings. Nonsense. Let us be clear that the Bible is unambiguous about creation; the Earth is the center of the universe, only humans were made in the image of God, and all life was created in six days. All life in all the heavens. In six days. So when we discover that life exists or existed elsewhere in our solar system or on a planet orbiting another star in the Milky Way, or in a planetary system in another galaxy, we will see a huge effort to square that circle with amazing twists of logic and contorted justifications. But do not buy the historical edits: Life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition. Any other conclusion is nothing but ex post facto rationalization to preserve the myth. Let us see why more specifically.

From Genesis 1:1, we get:

God said, “Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, over all the creatures that move along the ground.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of god he created him; male and female he created them.

Nothing in that mentions alien worlds, which the ancients knew nothing about, of course. Man was told to rule over the fish on the Earth, not on other planets. But God would have known of these alien worlds, so it is curious that he did not instruct the authors to include the language.

There is also a problem with Genesis 1:3: “And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light.” Well, the Earth is only 4.5 billion years old, yet the universe, and all the light generating stars in ancient galaxies, are more than 14 billion years old. So when God said, “Let there be light,” there already had been light shining bright for at least 10 billion years. He was flipping a switch that had been turned on eons before by the thermonuclear reactions in stars. And that light bathed other suns and other planets long before the Earth was a loose accumulation of rocks orbiting our sun. Given that this is the story of all creation, these tidbits seem an important omission that will undermine the entire story when we find life elsewhere. We were late to the game of “let there be light.”

We are also told in unambiguous terms that all life was created in six days. All life in all the heavens. Genesis 2:1 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” So here we learn that all life, in all the heavens, was complete, and all found on Earth. The complete totality of that creation in all the heavens, all of which was here on Earth, is made clear in the preceding sections of Genesis 1:1-31, with “every herb bearing seed” and “every beast” and “every fowl of the air.” There is no modifier like “every fowl of the air — that is, on Earth, but excluding life on the planet Xenflugan.” We know all of this took place in six days, because Genesis 2:2 says, “And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made.” Now, some say that these are not real days but allegorical “God days,” which could be millions of years each. But no, when God said, “Let there be light,” and created life in six days, he tied these events to seasons on Earth, which are governed by real days. So the Bible tells us that all life, in all the heavens, was all put on Earth in six days — that is, six Earth days. That leaves no room for alien life in this creation story. The discovery of alien life would therefore undermine the entire saga.

We can also have no doubt that the Earth is the center of the universe, because this is where God placed man. In the trial of Galileo, Pope Urban VIII made perfectly clear the church’s understanding of God’s word that the Earth is unambiguously the center of the universe:

We say, pronounce, sentence and declare that you, Galileo, by reason of these things which have been detailed in the trial and which you have confessed already, have rendered yourself according to this Holy Office vehemently suspect of heresy, namely of having held and believed a doctrine that is false and contrary to the divine and Holy Scripture: namely that Sun is the center of the world and does not move from east to west, and that one may hold and defend as probable an opinion after it has been declared and defined contrary to Holy Scripture.

Yet it would be difficult to claim the unique position of universe center if other planets held life that was zipping around in anti-gravity cars travelling at the speed of light. Clearly, if the ancients knew there was alien life, any form of life at all, the idea that the Earth was the center of the universe would be more difficult to sustain. Again, though, there is no mention of alien worlds or life beyond this little blue dot.

None of the 66 books of the Bible makes any reference to life other than that created by God here on Earth in that six-day period. If we discover life elsewhere, one must admit that that is a an oversight, so much so, in fact, that such a discovery must, to all but the most closed minds, call into question the entire story of creation and anything that follows from that story. How could a convincing story of life’s creation leave out life?

As I stated at the beginning, none of this will matter upon life’s discovery elsewhere. Religious leaders will simply declare that such life is fully compatible with, in fact predicted by, the Bible. Just like they eventually swept under the rug their being wrong about Earth’s position in the heavens. They will create contorted justifications to support this view, cite a few passages of the Bible that could mean anything, and declare victory. Don’t say I did not warn you.

| Sources: Article (Jeff Schweitzer) / Image ().

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  1. How interesting that I was writing on a general version of this very subject a few days ago, regarding the difference between logos and mythos as ways of thinking.

    What you’ve said here, “Life on another planet is completely incompatible with religious tradition,” is true IF AND ONLY IF said religious tradition (in this case, the creation story in Genesis) is interpreted through the lens of logos — as a straightforward, literal description of what is or was — and that’s improper from the beginning. Interpreted through the lens of mythos, as a metaphor with multiple meanings, none of them having anything to do with the origin of life in a scientific sense, the myth will survive just fine — AS myth, which is what it is and what it always was. (Note that the words “myth” and “falsehood” are not synonyms except, again, if one sees everything through the lens of logos.)

    This conflict between an improper logos-based understanding of the Bible and science is nothing new. Life on Mars will do nothing that the heliocentric cosmology or evolution didn’t do a long time ago. Somehow those who revere the Bible managed to endure, and somehow the creation story remains relevant even though hardly any Jews or Christians believe in an earth-centered cosmos, and a majority of such believers accept the idea of evolution. It will be no more difficult to accept the idea of life on other planets; indeed, I suspect most have already done so without any hard evidence of such life being discovered yet, merely because it’s such a high probability that it exists or existed somewhere.

    The Bible isn’t science. If you regard it as science (as creationists do — and as you are doing), then it will be bad science. But it isn’t bad science. It’s good (for the most part) myth. (Some parts of it, in my opinion, are bad myth, but that’s another subject.)

    There is nothing wrong with myth. Myth is needed and carries its own truth. Logos without mythos gave us death camps, nuclear weapons, and an environment at hazard. It can tell us many things about how, but nothing about why. Mythic thinking is needed for balance, and one does not discredit such thinking by pointing out that, taken as a simplistic literal statement, the myth is not a true statement of what is. We know that already. It changes nothing.

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