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.
Evolutionists understand how hard it is for most people to believe life evolved on Earth, and the media know how excited the public is with the idea of life evolving on other planets. This may explain why evolutionists and the media are increasingly claiming that life came from outer space.
The universe is aswarm with the stuff of biology—and it could be seeding life everywhere … and meteors that landed on Earth have been found to contain amino acids, nucleobases—which help to form DNA and RNA—and even sugars. (Time Magazine, “Aliens Among Us,” 22 October 2012, pp. 44, 46.)
Such statements overlook obvious facts and a simple explanation. Let’s look at just one piece of scientific evidence. One of the most studied meteorite falls in modern times occurred at 4:43 PM on 18 January 2000 at Tagish (TA-jis) Lake in northwestern British Columbia, Canada. A meteoroid, estimated to be 112,000 pounds and 13 feet in diameter, struck Earth’s upper atmosphere. About 97% of the rock burned up in the atmosphere; of the rest (3%), some fell onto the frozen lake, greatly reducing the chance of contamination. More than 500 black fragments (totaling 22 pounds) were soon recovered on the ice and later analyzed by an international team of twenty scientists.110
Organic Matter. Almost 3% (by weight) of these pristine meteorites were complex organic molecules, obviously produced by living organisms: amino acids and long strings of carbon-based compounds. How can this be explained?
Rocks and organic matter from plants and animals were pulverized and launched by the fountains of the great deep. Some merged to become meteoroids (as well as comets and asteroids). This team of scientists, on the other hand, say they don’t know how it all happened, but speculate that the organic matter already existed between the stars before the solar system and meteorites formed.111
Same Organic Material in Comet. Organic material in the Tagish Lake Meteorite was so similar to that found in comet Wild 2 that they probably had a common source.112 Evolutionists believe that common source was the massive dust cloud from which the entire solar system, including comets, formed 4.6 billion years ago. A much simpler, closer-to-home explanation is that the common source was life that was on Earth only about 5,000 years ago.
Organic Transformations. Transformations from one organic form to another occurred within these rocks before they struck Earth’s atmosphere. It was most likely caused by hydrothermal alterations. Evolutionists, admitting that these transformations were unexpected,113 visualize them occurring on some asteroid, which is ridiculous. Neither high temperatures nor high pressures would be present on an asteroid. In the laboratory, hot, high-pressure water can produce such transformations, exactly the conditions present during the early days of the flood.
Some organic molecules were mirror images of each other. Liquid water can produce such transformations.114
Water Soluble Compounds. Scientists discovered that many organic compounds inside the Tagish Lake meteorite had been dissolved in water before the meteorite struck Earth’s atmosphere. How could that be?
Liquid water on Earth did the dissolving and then the rocks and organic material were launched into space. Liquid water and organic matter almost never exist in outer space—let alone get close enough together for the water to slowly dissolve the organic matter.
Neutron Enrichment. These meteorites were rich in hydrogen-2, carbon-13, and nitrogen-15 (instead of the normal hydrogen-1, carbon-12, and nitrogen-14).115 Why? As will be explained in the next chapter, when the flood began, these elements absorbed neutrons from the sea of neutrons generated in the fluttering crust. With no specifics or evidence, evolutionists believe these neutron-heavy isotopes formed in the interstellar medium more than 4.6 billion years ago.
Clays. Small amounts of clays are found in these meteorites. Clays are produced by water acting on rock—either slowly over a long time or violently over a short time. High pressure water escaping violently and supersonically from the subterranean chamber produced these clays in rocks swept up in the fountains of the great deep.
Although asteroids are hundreds of degrees too cold to sustain liquid water, evolutionists believe that liquid water on asteroids produced the clays over millions of years and, later, impacts on asteroids chipped off the rocks that remarkably traveled to Earth to become meteorites.
Thanks for the contribution!
Nice closing line…well I’d like to speculate on what would be the motive and follow-up if ET had sown seeds upon this planet; what would be their expected harvest and for what means…? The seed which God has sown brings about friendship between the sower and his creation. That for sure is the kind of seed that brings life into the world!
Christians, theists/deists, should treat some panspermia speculations with great respect. “Directed” PS implies a director. The biblical ‘fact’ is that a being foreign to earth [from outside the system] directed the development thereof, and a being foreign to earth designed and implemented organic life on earth. I don’t see panspermia proposals as inherently destructive – quite the opposite. We can debate the definition of “god” in some other sphere – let’s welcome discussion of views that trend in the right direction.
I think you’re correct in that panspermia discussion cuts both ways. DP does presume a designer/director/sender/intelligent cause. But we can’t of course presume that the atheist who realizes that will be open to the notion of God by some inner sense of needing to be consistent. But this is a good point.