Scientists are still very excited about the possibility of finding water on Mars. Steve Squyres, principal investigator for the instruments aboard the recent NASA Mars Exploration Rovers (MER), Spirit and Opportunity, said, ‘We have concluded the rocks here were once soaked in liquid water.’1 However, despite all the appearances that water once existed, scientists appear disappointed in the findings of the MER mission. Why so?
As far back as 1877, an Italian astronomer named Giovanni Schiaparelli saw thin, dark lines on the Martian surface, which he called canali. Simply translated, this meant ‘channels’. But in 1905, another astronomer, Percival Lowell, mistook this expression for ‘canals’, a word meaning that they were complete with running water.2
It’s been no secret that for a long time, the canyons and sedimentary layering on Mars have been interpreted as evidence that Mars was once abundantly covered with water. Back in 2001, NASA said, ‘Mars may once have been a very wet place. A host of clues remain from an earlier era, billions of years ago, hinting that the Red Planet was host to great rivers, lakes and perhaps even an ocean.’3
So, is the real reason for multi-million–dollar scientific excursions to Mars to confirm that water once existed there? That was already believed due to the evidence of canyons and craters. A 2001 NASA article, The Case of the Missing Mars Water, reveals the real agenda:
Of course they eagerly hoped and expected to find water. Based on evolutionary ideas, they believe that where there is water, there will be life. And even alleged hints of life would surely fuel further research, which may explain the ‘the hype’ over alleged evidence of ‘past water’.
But does it really matter if water were found on Mars? Does that prove life once existed there? No! Life does not spontaneously arise out of water, even with chemicals.4 It is the result of special creation. On Earth, the evidence of enormously complex amounts of information stored on the DNA of every living creature bears the inescapable hallmark of an incredibly intelligent designer. Therefore, Christians need not worry about claims, or even evidence, of water on other planets as a precursor for life. In any case, the Bible suggests that the universe had a watery beginning, so planets may indeed contain water (2 Peter 3:5).
If water did once exist on the surface of Mars, then where has it gone? This remains one of the greatest quandaries for scientists hopeful of finding a few Martian microbes in some icy pothole. The following are some of the anomalies for ‘water on Mars’ ideas.
These contradictions provide enormous and baffling problems for evolutionary scientists. Mike Carr from the US Geological Survey and author of a book called Water on Mars said, ‘… I think a lot of it is just not understood yet. It’s very hard to understand. The whole business of the oceans, the evidence is so contradictory.’
To overcome the anomaly of the lack of water on Mars, evolutionary scientists speculate that conditions may have been different in the past—the climate may have been warmer and wetter. The changes, they say, may have been caused by some global Martian catastrophe that might have even caused an orbit change.
It seems remarkable that scientists are happy to postulate the idea that there were once massive amounts of water on Mars. Some have even suggested that there was a global flood there that forever altered conditions.
Such wrestling with the contradictions displays that they are really just guessing what happened. Yet Earth also contains abundant evidence for a global flood—the enormous amount of sedimentary layering, the fossils those layers contain (evidence of rapid burial) and vast canyons. There is also plenty of liquid water (70% of Earth’s surface is covered by water, and there is enough to cover the whole planet to a depth of 3 km (2 miles) if it were perfectly smooth6). In addition, no guesswork is required. The Bible provides a detailed eyewitness account of the global catastrophe that changed Earth.
How can scientists ignore the abundant evidence on Earth, yet believe so much about so little on Mars? The Bible also gives us great insight into this problem. It says, ‘But they deliberately forget that long ago by God’s word the heavens existed and the earth was formed out of water and by water’ (2 Peter 3:5) [emphasis added].
The lack of life on Mars also presents massive problems for those who think life originally came to Earth from Mars by way of some space spores (panspermia). Thus, for them, the origin of life on Earth also remains a puzzle. This is something that they hope discoveries of life on Mars will help solve.
This entire mystery only shows how special life really is. It is more than ‘just add water’. Liquid water and the entire hydrological cycle of Earth can exist thanks to its protective atmosphere and special location in our solar system. Should we be surprised that Earth looks like it has been specially designed for life—particularly with its vast array of incredibly complex creatures that appear specially designed to inhabit all sorts of differing conditions? Of course not. The more we explore other planets, and indeed the universe, the more we should stand in awe of the One who made them. The ‘mystery on Mars’ only reinforces that life on Earth was no accident.