...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, December 09, 2006

Day 2155: Life, but not as we know it


Scientists are today VERY EXCITED about a piece of rock that fell to Earth in the year 2000 and hit Canada.

They now think that it might yield clues about one of the GREAT MYSTERIES: how life began!

Early organic molecules could have been carried to Earth in similar meteorites from the outer limits of the solar system where they formed in the cold gas clouds of space.

Hollow spheres found in the primordial meteorite could yield clues to the origin of life on Earth!

Dr Lindsay Keller of NASA's Johnson Space Center (JSC) in Houston, Texas, spoke to BBC News saying:

"Help! I'm surrounded by Creationists! They have pitchforks!"

"God put the rock on Earth to test our faith!" cry the Creationists.

"God put you on Earth to throw rocks at!" I reply.

By a happy coincidence, Britain is preparing the way to launch science minister Malcolm Wicks back into space!

It only seems fair – we receive primitive, barely living traces of organic chemistry and we send them back a New Labour Minister.

Perhaps when he gets there, he will be able to take a SHOWER, because in ANOTHER significant scientific development, NASA and their space robots have discovered what they think may be evidence of free-flowing surface water on MARS!

This is really exciting. In and of itself it gives us loads of new things to think about just about the Martian geology (Areology?). The top question is whether these gullies were caused by liquid water or liquid carbon-dioxide. Our understanding of important things like “HOW PLANETS WORK” will be enhanced.

But of course, the thing that has most people bouncing up and down in excitement like they are at a James Bond film is the possibility of discovering new alien life.

There is a serious MORAL QUESTION that we need to consider here: if there is life of any kind on Mars should we leave the planet entirely alone so that we do not interfere with it – or worse kill it right off! Or, and this is why it is tough, is it more important that we make sure that life continues to exist in as many places as possible by expanding life from Earth – by colonising Mars?

Martian life – any extra-terrestrial life (including that E.T. movie) – is still only a possibility. The universe may be TEEMING with OODLES of alien life forms, but so far to the very best of our knowledge there is only only Earth.

Our one little fragile planet – the one that you human monkey people are busily trying to spoil – may be the only place where there IS life, and under those circumstances do we not have a duty to our genes and our species and our ANCESTOR CELLS to perpetuate life as far and as wide as we can?

You might almost think that these big moral questions call for a moral thinker, mightn't you.

But once again, when religion insists on wading into science’s territory it ignores the IMPORTANT question in favour of spouting nonsense instead. Yes, "Thoughtless for the Day" of the The Today Programme programme has roused Daddy to another blistering fury!

Taking the discovery of flowing water as a cue to jump to "poetical" and "theological" uses of flowing water as a metaphor for life, today's Today's "Thoughtless for the Day" speaker, Mr Rhidian Brook, went off into a ramble about why SCIENCE is BAD and BELIEF in FAIRY STORIES is GOOD.

"I am worried that the first person the aliens meet will be a scientist," says the theologian, "who will say ‘we define you as a lifeform because you have evolved from a cell’ and the aliens will laugh because we do not mention the soul."

Well, in the first place even if the first aliens that we happen to meet should be a sentient lifeform capable of communicating with us then, while they may or may not have a concept of "gods" or "souls", all the evidence of you monkeys with all your religions on Earth is that the aliens certainly WON'T believe in anything you do,

And definitely not the little baby Jesus IN A SPACESUIT!

As if anyone is going to start mouthing off about evolution before saying, maybe, "Hello!".

I mean would Mr Space Theologian start into a lecture about the immortal soul before saying "Hello"? Oh, actually…

But in the second place, the first alien life that we are likely at all to meet will almost certainly be a MICRO-ORGANISM like a bacterium or a virus.

And in that case I rather think we would all be a lot more grateful if the people to encounter it are SCIENTISTS or at least DOCTORS rather than some thoughtless THEOLOGIST prattling on about their soul and catching the Martian RED DEATH and bringing a plague back to kill us all!

Actually this ANTHROPOMORPHISM, this automatic assumption that something UNKNOWN will be JUST LIKE US is part of the central ASSUMPTION of religious thinking. "Oooh something weird is happening – it must be a guy like only more so!"

And in the third case, short of the DALEK INVASION OF EARTH, if we are going to encounter alien life in any guise we are going to need SCIENTISTS, and ENGINEERS to build us the spacecraft to get us there.

But Mr Brook continues – and if anything gets WORSE!

"We do not need to explore the universe; the source of everlasting and renewing life is found here."

Truly, if the final frontier is SPACE it is indeed to be found between the EARS of this religious broadcaster!

This is SELFISH and DANGEROUS. It is putting his own UNPROVEN BELIEF above the concerns of others for the safety of our species (elephant AND monkey!) and our planet.

The good lord, should he in fact exist, has a notorious record of leaving us to work out on our own whether we are DESTROYING THE WORLD!

If you human beings manage to destroy a species, or LOTS of species, or even YOUR OWN species through global warming or atomic war or contagious Celebrity Love Island or whatever, will "god" magically put them back on Earth?

Let us look at the evidence: Dodo… still dead.

Hmmm, looks bad news for the "source of self-renewing life" theory, doesn’t it. Maybe we should get a PROPER SCIENTIST to think up a BACK UP PLAN.

"Let's Build Rocket Ships!" would be a start!

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent commentary. One thing to note is that bacteria, if found on mars would not be very susceptible to our efforts to destroy them even if we tried. Note that all the antiseptic cleaners on Earth have only made their target bacteria stronger. The chance that they would affect life on Earth is slim, but possible, since they are existing in such an extreme of temperature, pressure, and Oxygen free environment. I recommend as an interesting site about the modern science that is replacing Darwin as the basis of evolution.