A commenter on my site informed me of this recent news item of interest for UFO Religions:

UK Scientists: Aliens May Have Sent Space Seeds To Create Life On Earth

The article is a serious one and not a parody. Here are the first two paragraphs along with the photograph referred to therein:


Scientists in the U.K. have examined a tiny metal circular object, and are suggesting it might be a micro-organism deliberately sent by extraterrestrials to create life on Earth.

Don’t be fooled by the size of the object in the microscopic image above. It may appear to look like a planet-sized globe, but in fact, it’s no bigger than the width of a human hair.

This is the sort of discovery that of necessity prompts a discussion of panspermia. As many readers know, panspermia was one of the content items the factored into the plot of my novel, The Facade.

In general terms, panspermia refers to the idea that life as we know it on earth was seeded from space. Usually, this idea is thought of in “undirected” or random terms; that is, involving no intelligent causation. However, this micro-organism has raised the subject of directed panspermia, the notion that intelligent extraterrestrials deliberately attempted to seed life on other worlds. And whenever directed panspermia comes up, the name of Nobel laureate Francis Crick, co-discoverer (with James Watson) of DNA. is sure to follow. In 1973 Crick and Leslie Orgel of the Salk Institute for Biological Studies published a short article promoting the idea:

F. H. C. Crick and L. E. Orgel, “Directed Panspermia,” Icarus 119, no. 3 (1973):341-346.

The abstract reads:

It now seems unlikely that extraterrestrial living organisms could have reached the Earth either as spores driven by the radiation pressure from another star or as living organisms imbedded in a meteorite. As an alternative to these nineteenth-century mechanisms, we have considered Directed Panspermia, the theory that organisms were deliberately transmitted to the Earth by intelligent beings on another planet.

We conclude that it is possible that life reached the Earth in this way, but that the scientific evidence is inadequate at the present time to say anything about the probability. We draw attention to the kinds of evidence that might throw additional light on the topic.

There are inherent problems with every discussion of directed (“intelligent”) panspermia. We have no evidence that intelligent ETs exist. If we did, we’d have to determine that those ETs indeed practiced panspermia. Then science would have to demonstrate that their efforts mattered for life on earth. And if we gained that information from them, we’d need to know they aren’t lying.

In the present vacuum of such knowledge directed panspermia is ultimately a view that requires a leap of faith, a swear word to many scientists. Let’s say that the micro-organism is indeed a “micro balloon” that could seed life on a planet like ours (same or similar parameters for life). By what means could we know it was intelligently sent? Because it’s “complex”? Because it contains living material? Neither of those speak to point of origin. So, on the one hand, believers in intelligent panspermia have to make a faith claim that intelligent ETs sent it to seed life. Theistic evolutionaists, on the other hand, would claim that God is behind the micro-organism (another faith statement). Sounds like the intelligent design discussion to me and not much more.

But of course all of this is speculation.