On Waters Above – Why NASA’s Announcement About Water on Mars Contributes
Ed. Note: Dr. William Welty, is the Executive Director of the ISV foundation and also serves as a research analyst in Advanced Communication Technologies and Adjunct Professor of Middle Eastern Studies on the faculty of Koinonia Institute. The opinions expressed in the article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Koinonia Institute.
Then God said, “Let there be a canopy between bodies of water, separating bodies of water from bodies of water!”
— Genesis 1:6, (ISV)
I read with interest Monday, some Internet news reports that screamed with almost delirious joy an announcement released by NASA that, at long last and after decades of scientific speculation, flowing water has been observed as a present (if not seasonal) reality on the planet Mars. Writing for The Associated Press, Marcia Dunn pontificated:
Mars appears to have flowing rivulets of water, at least in the summer, scientists reported Monday in a finding that boosts the odds of life on the red planet.
Dark narrow streaks, called “recurring slope lineae,” emanate from the walls of Garni Crater on Mars. (NASA)
“Mars is not the dry, arid planet that we thought of in the past,” said Jim Green, director of planetary science for NASA.
Conspiracy Theory Responses
NASA’s press release did not come without controversy, however. At virtually the same time that it posted news about NASA’s announcement, The Drudge Report also posted rumors that NASA timed the announcement to coincide with release of director Ridley Scott’s latest science fiction thriller, “The Martian”, which had been slated for release the very week of the announcement by NASA. The next day, writing for Breitbart News, John Nolte observed:
Keep in mind that NASA’s big announcement is NOT that water has been found on Mars. The news is that NASA has found only SIGNS of water on Mars. And now, probably by accident, “Martian” director Ridley Scott has confirmed that NASA timed the release of this bombshell maybe-news for the week of the movie’s release.
On one level, “The Martian” may be functioning as a giant advertisement for NASA, but the close collaboration between the space agency and Ridley Scott’s film-making team has resulted in the director remaining blasé about the dramatic announcement of evidence of flowing water on Mars. “I knew that months ago,” he said in response to the news. …
Scott said he had seen the photographs of water flows “about two months ago” – meaning that it was too late to incorporate the revelation into the film’s narrative.
NASA knew this months ago .
Personally, I don’t take much stock in conspiracy theories. And no, I don’t think the timing of the announcement has anything to do with the so-called Blood Moons nonsense or the currently occurring retrograde motion of the planet Mercury. If there’s any conspiracy going on at NASA, it’s more likely that senior management is posturing their announcements about finding signs of flowing water on Mars in order to boost the likelihood as we approach the end of the federal government’s fiscal year that their NASA space exploration budget remains intact or is even increased.
The Genesis Record
With all due respect to the commendable work that NASA has accomplished to bring the Mars Orbiter images back to earth for processing, nothing in NASA’s announcement comes as a surprise to those who take the message of Genesis seriously.
For example, if one examines what Moses wrote circa 1,400 BC in Genesis 1:6–10, this is what you’ll learn about what happened on the second and third days of God’s creation week activities:
(6) Then God said, “Let there be a canopy between bodies of water, separating bodies of water from bodies of water!” (7) So God made a canopy that separated the water beneath the canopy from the water above it. And that is what happened: (8) God called the canopy “sky.” The twilight and the dawn were the second day. (9) Then God said, “Let the water beneath the sky come together into one area, and let dry ground appear!” And that is what happened: (10) God called the dry ground “land,” and he called the water that had come together “oceans.” And God saw how good it was. (ISV)
Observe, if you would please, how the creation text informs an observant reader that when God created the universe, he placed water throughout His universe. What God did with this water is described in the passage from Genesis that we’ve cited above: During the second day of the creation activities described in the Genesis creation narrative, the text informs us that God separated the water that he had created into two distinct portions.
- First, he made a boundary that placed water that existed beneath the visible canopy of the sky, as verse 6 informs us. This reference to water designates the water content contained in and limited to the atmosphere of the earth, on the earth’s surface, or beneath it.
- Second, Moses distinguished water that would be native to earth from water that lay beyond or above the sky canopy, as verse 7 informs us.
To sum up the implications of the Genesis narrative, creationists say NASA’s announcement that signs of flowing water have been sighted on Mars is old news, and it comes as no surprise. Quite the opposite, the Jewish and Christian communities observe the NASA announcement with a sort of bemused detachment.
We respond by saying to NASA, “Congratulations! You’ve finally concluded what Moses told the ancient Israelis in the fifteen century BC!” After decades of space exploration, NASA scientists finally climb to the top of the mountain of solar system knowledge about Mars—only to find the giver of The Torah sitting there on the top of that mountain. Personally, I visualize the man sitting next to a big pile of bagels and cream cheese with a sly grin on his face while he informs NASA that God knew there was water on Mars all along. In short, the NASA announcement is a big “Ho-hum! That’s boring!”
Did Life on Mars Start There? Or on Earth? Or Somewhere Else?
Here’s what’s really behind the NASA announcement: Anybody who is desperate to keep a knowledge of God out of their life is going to try to keep even the possibility of divine intervention or activity on a non-existent level. For these people, if life is unique to earth, then maybe the earth and its living species really are extraordinary. And they don’t want to contemplate that reality. So they speculate that life must have originated from a place other than earth. In their view, this kind of logic leads to the possibility of life existing on Mars on the one hand, or on the other hand, it can lead extremists to think life was planted on earth by someone or something else. But the creationist community suggests that both possibilities have very simple explanations. As to the first possibility that there exists microbial life on Mars, conservative evangelicals who take the Bible seriously suggest that if it’s ever found, it’s more likely that it arrived there from earth. Either:
- It arrived within the last few decades on a human-engineered planetary lander that wasn’t quite as sterile as their builders thought that they had made it; or,
- Life on Mars may have existed in the dim and ancient past, when it was brought there by antediluvian, but entirely human, astronauts who lived before the earth was first destroyed by the flood of Noah’s day; or,
- An ancient catastrophic meteor strike on earth may have sent portions of the earth’s surface into orbit, where the orbital detritus intersected with Mars, thus infecting Mars with earth-generated microbes.
Now as to this last possibility, it has been widely suggested that a number of meteorites discovered (particularly in the earth’s arctic regions) have come from Mars in the ancient past. We wonder if the trip could not have been two-way?
The Origin of Earth’s Life: The Ultimate Off-Earth Event
Then there’s the question of whether life originated on earth or from beyond earth. It will doubtlessly come as a surprise to many evangelicals that, strictly speaking, the Bible does not claim that earth’s life originated on earth. It only claims that life on earth was crafted there by a supreme Intelligence who visited His own creation from his origin/home in another dimension in order to craft the plants and animals and then to breathe His own Spirit of life into those creations. This supreme Intelligence is the God of the Bible. His name in Hebrew (transliterated from the Hebrew language into English as YHWH) is also referred to as the eternal and uncreated creative Word of God. In the New Testament, the Apostle John identifies this being with more specificity: He identifies him as Jesus the Messiah, the Angel of the LORD who created the entire Universe, who fashioned the first human beings from the dust of the ground, who brought them to life, and who eventually became one of them in the Incarnation through his Jewish mother Mary, a descendant of King David.
In short, creationists do believe that all life on earth originated off planet, so to speak. That’s because we say the transcendent God and creator, the pre-incarnate Lord Jesus the Messiah, who was the creative agent who brought the entire Universe into existence, personally visited earth to fashion all life, including the origin of human life, on a young earth. In a limited way, then, creationists can say that life on earth originated from off planet, so to speak, when God invaded his own creation to fashion our first parents from the dust of the earth.
Now as to the implications of flowing water having been discovered on Mars, we’re happy to congratulate NASA: well done, ladies and gentlemen. Do keep up the good work. But keep your science honest. If you do, you’ll doubtlessly discover that the more you study God’s creation, the more your findings square with the writings of the man who wrote, “In the beginning, God created the Universe.” (Genesis 1:1, ISV).
About the Holy Bible: International Standard Version
The ISV, version 2.0, produced by the ISV Foundation, is quoted exclusively herein. It was produced by a team of conservative professional biblical and lay scholars drawn from the international Christian community. It is published in a variety of electronic formats Visit http://isv.org to learn more.
Water on Mars: What It Says about God’s Great Universe— Christianity Today
Water on Mars: A Creationist Response— Answer in Genesis
– FROM: KHouse.Org