Life

Life the movie, promises to be one of next summer’s box-office sensations. It’s about the six-member crew of an International Space Station that discovers the first proof of life beyond earth. The astronauts find a single-cell biological organism on Mars. However, as they begin experimenting with it, their methods have unintended consequences, and the life proves to be more intelligent and sinister than anyone expected.

Putting the science-fiction and computer-generated imagery aside, finding a single-cell biological organism on Mars would completely alter our understanding of life in the universe. Currently, there is no definitive, scientifically verifiable theory that can explain how life emerged in the universe. Of course, there are numerous theories. One theory says life emerged on earth more than 3 billion years ago when lightning struck a bubbling caldron of methane, ammonia and hydrogen, and created the amino acids that would eventually evolve into the first building blocks of life. Other theories say that life may have been organized in the clay, or grown on the backs of crystals. Regardless, there is no scientific theory that can adequately explain the origin of life in the universe. It remains a mystery.

So, if we don’t know how life emerged in the universe, what do we know?

Well, we know that the universe sprang into existence 13.7 billion years ago from nothing, and when we say “nothing,” we don’t mean an empty space or the absence of some thing. We mean the non-existence of everything; no space, no time, nothing. Now, that’s impossible to comprehend because there must be something, in order for the human mind to comprehend it. However, the universally accepted theory is that our universe sprang into existence from nothing with a big-bang. What came before the big-bang, and what caused the big-bang, is a matter of speculation? The religious say that the first cause, the only thing that always was, and always will be, is God. Others believe that our universe is part of a larger mega-universe that has always existed in some other dimension beyond our ability to see or know. However, even though science is unable to tell us what happened before the big-bang, it does have a good idea of what happened after the first instant of creation.

The big-bang was the sudden release of energy, a flash of light that emerged from a singularity of nothingness to create, and continues to create, the time and space that is the ever-expanding universe. Initially, there was only energy, but as time passed and the universe began to cool; the energy congealed to create the subatomic particles that would eventually combine to form the matter that makes up the stars, planets, and everything else that comprises the physical universe.

So, from nothing came light, from light came matter, and from matter came life. Somewhere along the way, what we call life, the biological organic matter that is alive, somehow emerged from the non-biological inorganic matter that was not alive. Life apparently, emerged from the dirt or space dust of the early universe, in a manner that is remarkably consistent with the creation story in the book of Genesis. Whether that story is a product of divine revelation, or simply the insight of common sense, is debatable. Although life is the rarest phenomenon in the universe, it is for us, unfortunately all too familiar.

Think about it. From the simplicity of single-celled organisms like bacteria, to the complexity and magnificence of the human being, life on earth is everywhere. It’s so abundant and diverse that we’ve become callous of its existence. We take it for granted simply because it’s here. What we fail to understand is that life doesn’t have to be here. In fact, life shouldn’t be here because the calculated probability that life should have emerged in the universe, the chances that inorganic matter should have spontaneously become organic and alive, is less than zero. Life should not exist, but somehow it does. Was it the result of some cosmic accident, or the byproduct of some intelligent-design? Again, that’s something for you to decide.

Imagine for a moment what would happen if we did find life on mars? The world would come to a literal halt. The attention of every human being on the planet would be focused on a single-cell organism growing in a petri-dish, floating in a spaceship, millions of miles away, simply because it was alive and wasn’t found on earth.

Yet, somehow when we find an even more advanced organism containing human DNA, taking in nourishment, converting it to energy, and growing; we don’t consider it a life. If we found it on Mars it would be the confirmation of life beyond earth, and the greatest discovery in human history. However, when we find it in a womb, it’s not a life? It’s an inconvenience, just some type of inorganic matter. In our modern secular society, how we define life, what we are willing to say actually constitutes a life, is more dependent  upon where you find it, than what it actually is?