by Danny Faulkner December 15, 2013
We’re just one out of millions of planets where life is likely to exist. You’ll hear this claim more and more. Don’t believe it. Even the best planets found so far don’t come close to reaching the minimum requirements, and the list is longer than you think.
A powerful motive drives the ongoing, costly search for life on other worlds. If life is unique to the earth, then that makes our planet special and implies a Creator. But this thought repels unregenerate minds. If life arose naturally as they believe, then we should expect to find life on many other planets throughout the universe.
Hopes of finding life within our own solar system have been dashed so far, but that has not diminished the astronomical zeal. In 2009 NASA launched the Kepler telescope—costing over half a billion dollars—to monitor 145,000 stars for evidence of orbiting planets. The results are astounding: over 3,500 candidates were identified in Kepler’s small survey. Yet Kepler was able to detect just a small fraction of the planets orbiting its target stars. Correcting for its limited view and extending the result to other stars, researchers can estimate how many planets exist. Our Milky Way galaxy alone may host as many as 100 billion planets.
Despite the hype, the survey is verifying what our solar system has already shown us—that there’s no place like home.
What Is Life, Anyway? For decades evolutionists thought that life arose in a warm, comfortable pool of water—the sort of environment where life thrives on earth today. They had to change their tune, however, as the harsh conditions on other planets unfolded. Repeated space probes have shown how hostile Mars and other planets are, though many people have never given up.
Over the past thirty years scientists have found what appears to be an inkling of hope. Extremophiles are organisms that manage to survive in earth’s most extreme environments, such as the high temperatures of hydrothermal vents on the seafloor, the high pressure deep in rock, and the cold and dark of lakes buried beneath Antarctic ice. Now many scientists think that life began in these hostile places.
The hope is that isolated locations on other planets like Mars may harbor organisms similar to earth’s extremophiles. Similar arguments persist for some of Jupiter’s and Saturn’s moons, where liquid water might exist far below their surfaces. Since liquid water appears to be a necessary ingredient for life, the evolutionary reasoning is that life probably develops wherever liquid water exists.