This week, NASA scientists announced that a new life-form had been discovered, saying “NASA will hold a news conference at 2 p.m. EST on Thursday, Dec. 2, to discuss an astrobiology finding that will impact the search for evidence of extraterrestrial life. Astrobiology is the study of the origin, evolution, distribution and future of life in the universe.”
It caused a sensation among scientists, amateur astronomers, and conspiracy theorists. Waiting for the press conference on Thursday Dec 2 was a nail-biter. Millions tuned in. NASA explained what had been discovered. It was “a bombshell that upends long-held assumptions about the basic building blocks of life, scientists have discovered a a whole new type of creature: a microbe that lives on arsenic. It is unlike every other lifeform on the planet – from the simplest plant to the most complex mammal. “It’s terrestrial life – but not life as we know it,” said Mary Voytek, director of NASA’s astrobiology program.
“All life on Earth relies on six principal elements — carbon, hydrogen, nitrogen, oxygen, sulfur and phosphorus. Phosphorus is a key ingredient in the ladder of DNA, as well as many key components of cellular machinery. The microbe in Mono Lake uses arsenic as a nutrient; not one of six major elements thought to be essential for life.”
As science goes, this is pretty major and I can applaud the persistence of the scientists and enjoy the thrill of discovery and increased knowledge. But what does it mean for Christians? How does this discovery mesh with what we know, believe, and have faith in?
There could be of four paths of thought about this new ‘discovery.’ My list is certainly not exhaustive, they are simply musings upon my Lord and the work He is obviously doing in the world now, in the end of the end time.
First, in Revelation 13:3; Zechariah 11:17 the antichrist is seemingly killed by a head wound and then seemingly raised from the dead. (I saw one of his heads as if it had been slain, and his fatal wound was healed And the whole earth was amazed and followed after the beast;) Can it be? Can satan create, or at least imitate, new life? I don’t think so, the verse in all its translations says that the antichrist only seemed to be dead. Satan is a counterfeiter. He can pervert life (Genesis 6:4). He can genetically mutate life (Numbers 13:23; 33 NASB) but he cannot and does not create new life. He only fakes it. It is toxic life, filled with sin as the antichrist is after he seemingly rises from the dead. If satan counterfeits life, than a toxic emergence of toxic cells filled with arsenic sounds like just his style. So one idea is that the microbe is something that satan perverted in his never-ending quest to be like God (Isaiah 14:14).
Second, we do know that the Lord has a purpose and a plan for this life that we do not know. Even if satan twisted God’s good life-forms into a toxic pestilence, God will use it for his good and his purposes. If God made this life, then He made it for His plan and His purposes which we know are always good. (Romans 8:28)
Third, is this microbe something that God made as a readiness of the pestilences that Rev 6:8 says will come? A pestilence(s) of some kind is prophesied to emerge when the fourth horseman rides. Maybe this is a killer pestilence. It IS a bacteria, after all.
Fourth, and last, it could be that the scientists are wrong. Mockers of Christ will scorn this last idea, for their god is science, and to them, it is inerrant. But science has often been wrong. Last year, the fossil dubbed “Ida” was supposed to be a missing link in the theory of evolution., We are related to lemurs, scientists said. ‘This will re-write history,’ they said. Almost immediately, the hoopla faded and scientists were saying Oops! Fossil not missing link after all, It’s just 2 animals squashed together, Utah museum says. History re-written? And I didn’t even have time to uncap my pen. Some scientists even claim that the notion of a missing link at all is a myth. After Ida, a new missing link was touted. Before Ida, we were supposed to have been related to birds.
This microbe was found in the lake but then grown in a petrie dish and increased amounts of arsenic added to it. It was manipulated, in attempts to re-create the in-situ conditions. In biology in situ means to examine the phenomenon exactly in place where it occurs (i.e. without moving it to some special medium). Moving the bacteria to other conditions and coddling them as you inject new arsenic to see if they can handle it is not exactly the same as what was found at Mono Lake.
This is not to say science is bad. It isn’t. I am saying that science isn’t my god. I don’t believe it is the source of absolute truth, or even inerrant truth. The discoveries are touted with ever-increasing fervor (nervous hysteria?) combined with blaring headlines full of hyperbole. Let’s just say, based on an observable track record, I am skeptical that this microbe is what science is purporting it to be.
Scientists keep exclaiming that this microbe is not like any life they thought possible, nor is like any life that thought existed. New life-forms are conformed to exist, scientists say, and it is not like any life they thought possible. The discovery “changes what we think of as life” they say. Scientists need to expand their thinking a little more. Christians know that other life exists. God created angels, you know. They are off-earth life forms that live, breathe, think, and exist in various dimensions inside of time and outside of time – at will. Here is a description of one extraterrestrial life-form that’s pretty dizzying:
“Within it there were figures resembling four living beings And this was their appearance: they had human form. Each of them had four faces and four wings. Their legs were straight and their feet were like a calf’s hoof, and they gleamed like burnished bronze. Under their wings on their four sides were human hands. As for the faces and wings of the four of them, their wings touched one another; their faces did not turn when they moved, each went straight forward. As for the form of their faces, each had the face of a man; all four had the face of a lion on the right and the face of a bull on the left, and all four had the face of an eagle. Such were their faces. Their wings were spread out above; each had two touching another being, and two covering their bodies…” Ezekiel 1:5-11…
I think God’s wheels within wheels beats a toxic microbe any day.
Whatever God is doing by revealing a bacteria that has a basic building block different from us humans is not cause to doubt nor to defend nervously. It IS cause for celebration. His ways are so far above our ways, but He lets us participate in observing His work on earth with insight from the indwelling Holy Spirit, and soon we will FULLY participate as co-heirs in His work from heaven. Praise His name, He is amazing!