Remember the ‘life from Mars’!
27 October 2000
Have we found life from the moon? So asks the article Microorganisms from the Moon: Russian biologists recognize fossils of microorganisms in lunar soil (27 October 2000). This reports new microscopic analysis of samples from the lunar surface collected from the then Soviet Union’s Luna missions in 1970 and 1972. These samples contained spherical particles that are ‘virtually identical to fossils of known biological species’ in size, shape, distribution and even the way they are deformed during fossilization. The report claims ‘These fossils are solid evidence for ancient life elsewhere in space.’ So how should we regard these claims?
We should certainly wait until more evidence comes in. Many times, evolutionists have triumphantly announced ‘proofs’ of evolution or something else against the Christian worldview, and the secular media uncritically splashed them over the front page. But later, this evidence has been discredited by further discovery. We have only to remember Archaeoraptor, pushed as ‘proof’ of dinosaur-to-bird evolution by the influential National Geographic, but later exposed as a hoax (see Archaeoraptor hoax update: National Geographic recants!). More closely related to the moon life claim is of course the alleged ‘life’ found in the meteorite labeled ALH84001, supposedly from Mars. This has been discredited on a number of grounds, but the media and assorted ‘skeptics’ didn’t give the retraction anywhere near the same publicity. See Life on Mars? Separating fact from fiction and Mars claims weaken further.
One of the many problems with the alleged Mars life was that contamination from Earth life is almost inevitable. Supposedly this shouldn’t be a problem with this ‘moon life’ because the samples have been kept in sealed containers from when they were collected on the moon to their examination in the laboratory. But they may be underestimating the abilities of microbes to invade containers, and do we really know how effectively sealed they were during the entire time since they returned from the moon—almost 30 years?
The origin of life from non-living chemicals (called ‘spontaneous generation’, ‘abiogenesis’ or ‘chemical evolution’) is chemically impossible for many reasons, even under the best conditions (see Q&A: Origin of Life). But the moon has appalling conditions—waterless, airless, temperature extremes, and exposure to damaging radiation.
Therefore if this report does turn out to be genuine evidence for life on the moon, this life couldn’t have begun there. Rather, it may be Earth life that was somehow transported to the moon. After all, the ALH84001 meteorite found its way to Earth from Mars, so it’s hardly impossible for things to be transported out of the Earth as well. A violent meteoritic impact could conceivably knock material out, with a speed exceeding escape velocity. Or spores could be carried so high up that the solar wind could move them.
This is supported by the fact that the moon fossils were ‘virtually identical to fossils of known biological species’ and had an ‘unmistakable resemblance to modern spiral filamentous microorganisms like Phormidium frigidum, found in growing stromatolith [sic] in Shark Bay, Australia’. Evolutionists frequently use common structures to ‘prove’ a common ancestry (although a common designer would explain them better), so it’s difficult to believe that almost identical structures evolved independently on different places with vastly different environments.