WASHINGTON: When Apollo 12 astronaut Pete Conrad was asked to describe the most significant discovery made by U.S. visitors to the moon, he said, it was streptococcus mitis.
“… That little bacteria who came back and lived and nobody ever said anything about it.”
A microscopic astronaut
That “little bacteria” did not come from dead extraterrestrials found in a crashed saucer half buried in the lunar dust of Oceanus Procellarum. Rather, the bug lives in the mouths and throats of humans. Theory is, pre-launch, the bacteria in the Surveyor 3 camera was from a sneeze or cough from a NASA technician.
The Surveyor 3 sat on the lunar surface for almost three years before the two Apollo 12 astronauts set down a mere 535 feet from the probe.
Surviving the vacuum of space
The reclaimed microbes survived the vacuum of space, harsh radiation, bombardment by charged particles and without food or light to sustain them. It tends to suggest that life, even microbial life, is a tenacious survivor and hardy space traveler.
It’s been hypothesized that early life on earth, like the microbes that hitched a ride aboard Surveyor 3 to the moon, came to our planet aboard asteroids and comets.
Life in a test tube?
Chemists Stanley Miller and Harold Urey’s 1952 experiment put water, methane, ammonia and hydrogen, the primordial soup of early earth, in a sealed flask. That flask, exposed it to heat (simulating volcanism) and electrical sparks (simulating lightning), produced amino acids, the building blocks of life.
Something from nothing
The problem for evolutionists is explaining how these non-organic amino acids evolved into living and more complex organisms, a process called abiogenesis.
None other than Francis Crick, co-discoverer of the DNA molecule, dismissed abiogenesis as impossible.
“… Life does not evolve from terrestrial nonliving matter nowadays, it may never have done so. Hence… life reached the earth as an ‘infection’ from another planet.”
Streptococcus mitis and Ancient aliens?
The theory of asteroids and comets delivering microorganisms to earth is panspermia. But Nobel-laureate Crick and partner Leslie Orgel took it a step further in a paper published in December of 1972:
“The possibility that terrestrial life derives from the deliberate activity of an extraterrestrial society has often been considered in science fiction and more less light-heartedly in a number of scientific papers…
Could life have started on Earth as a result of infection by microorganisms sent here deliberately by a technological society on another planet, by means of a special long-range unmanned spaceship?…
The packets of microorganisms must be made and dispersed in such a way that they can survive the entry at high velocity into the atmosphere of the planet, and yet be able to dissolve in the oceans.”
Crick and Orgel wondered if our progenitor’s star “warmed up and frizzled them, or were they able to colonize a different Solar System with a short-range spaceship?”
“The difficulties of placing any form of life on another planetary system are so great that we are unlikely to be their sole descendants. Presumably, they would have made many attempts to infect the galaxy. If the range of their rockets were small this might suggest that we have cousins on planets which are not too distant. Perhaps the galaxy is lifeless except for a local village, of which we are one member.”
When asked about the existence of extraterrestrial life, physicist Enrico Fermi famously quipped,
“Where is everybody?”
No radio or television signals have revealed their existence.
But as Crick and Orgel suggest, these signals may have been transmitted to us chemically through the complex strands of the double helix in our DNA.
But this still does not explain the problem of inorganic “building blocks” suddenly coming to life. If it didn’t happen on earth, how could it happen on distant worlds?
Ask Saint Thomas Acquinas
Christian apologists say the issue of directed panspermia was settled by Saint Thomas Aquinas in his Summa Theologica of 1485:
“Now, whatever lacks knowledge cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is directed by the archer. Therefore, some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God.”
Jeff Miller, Ph.D. and science writer for Apologetics Press, notes,
“A Being not governed by the laws of nature is needed to initiate life, according to the Law of Biogenesis. The Bible, a book containing supernatural characteristics, tells us Who that Being is.”
Top Image: asteroid impacts earth. Nova series, PBS “Asteroid: Doomsday or Payday?” screen capture.