Thoughts on the Mars Landing

I love this geeky stuff, no mistake. I love seeing what humanity is capable of accomplishing. But most of all, I love that this geeky stuff causes me to reflect on how infinite and creative our God is. But listening to scientists talk about these amazing things inevitably fills me with sadness and frustration.

This 3 minute video is a rundown on the complexity of the landing, the riskiness involved, and at the end, a scientist explains why they have made this attempt:

Mars Rover’s “Seven Minutes of Terror”

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

M51 Whirlpool Galaxy

Note especially the scientist’s statement that “if life is found there, my conclusion would be that life is easy, it’s a natural process, and that the universe is littered with places that have life. And I think that would be a pretty spectacular find.”

My immediate reaction was, “No! That would not be spectacular. How much more spectacular to find that life is NOT easy, that it is a miracle, that it was created in a very unique place, in an inexplicable way, by an act of love.” That would be a spectacular discovery.

This brings to mind Dr. William Lane Craig’s arguments in On Guard (the blurb and my rating can be found on my Recommended Reading page) in which he gives explains the excessively small chance that life exists at all. Dr. Craig isn’t making this stuff up; he’s just quoting the numbers. Numbers that all scientists, like our hopeful idealist in the video, have access to and seem to forget about:

Astronomers have been stunned by the discovery of how complex and delicate a balance of initial conditions must be present in the big bang itself if the universe is to permit the existence of intelligent life anywhere at all in the cosmos. This delicate balance of initial conditions has come to be known as the “fine-tuning” of the universe for life.

Now what scientists have been surprised to discover is that these constants and quantities must fall into an extraordinarily narrow range of values for the universe to be life-permitting.

Fine tuning in this neutral sense is uncontroversial and well established. Physics abounds with examples of fine-tuning. … The so-called weak force, one of the four fundamental forces of nature, which operates inside the nucleus of an atom, is so finely tuned that an alteration in its value by even one part of 10 to the 100th power (that’s 10 followed by 100 zeroes) would have prevented a life-permitting universe!

Roger Penrose of Oxford University has calculated that the odds of  [a] low-entropy state’s existing by chance alone is on the order of one chance out of 10 to 10th power to the 123rd power, a number that is so inconceivable that to call it astronomical would be a wild understatement.

The fine-tuning here is beyond comprehension. Having an accuracy of even one part out of 10 to the sixtieth power is like firing a bullet toward the other side of the observable universe, twenty billion light-years away, and nailing a one-inch target!

The examples of fine-tuning are so many and so various that they aren’t likely to disappear with the advance of science. Like it or not, fine-tuning is just a fact of life that is scientifically well established.

By contrast the odds of our solar system’s suddenly forming by the random collision of particles is one chance out of 10 to the 10th power to the 60th power.

On Guard, p. 107-109, 119

And the NASA scientist above hopes to find that “life is easy.” 🙂 Good luck with that, man. If it comforts you to hope that life is easily come by and that you are common in the great universe, go for it. You’re most welcome to that hope. On the other hand, I prefer to believe I am rare and precious and deeply loved by one who crafted me with a purpose in mind. Hey, numbers are numbers, and those numbers say I am rare, indeed.