Beagle 2, Stardust, Spirit and Opportunity
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PR Christian School in Walker, MI
“... and there was light” (Genesis 1:3b).
For those interested in science and astronomy, December 2003/January 2004 brought some fascinating news. Four unmanned space probes completed or arrived at critical stages in their missions. These four probes are listed in the title.
The Beagle 2 is a European probe which was built in Great Britain. The Beagle 2 was scheduled for a six-month mission on the surface of Mars where it would search for signs of life in a region once thought to have been a Martian sea. This probe, which would travel on the surface of Mars, landed on Christmas Day and has not been heard from since. As an aside, it is no accident that this probe is named “Beagle.” It is named in honour of Charles Darwin’s ship. Darwin travelled on the Beagle when he went to the Galápagos Islands, where he developed the theory of evolution.
The other three probes are American and are funded with U.S. tax dollars. Stardust travelled 242 million miles from earth and passed within 311 miles of a comet, Wild 2. Its mission was to take pictures of the comet and gather some of the dust which surrounds the comet in a fuzzy haze. In two years, Stardust will return and drop to earth a canister containing the dust particles gathered from the comet. These dust particles will then be studied in laboratories across the earth. This is an attempt to test scientists’ latest theory of the beginning of life on earth. Some now think that comets contain organic chemicals. Scientists say collisions between earth and comets were common billions of years ago. These collisions “seeded” the earth with the organic chemicals needed for the evolution of life.
The last two probes, Spirit and Opportunity are rovers with missions to Mars. They are to photograph and closely examine Martian soil to search for signs of water which could have supported life. The Spirit has already landed, sent back some photographs and travelled a short distance on Mars. NASA has since lost the signal from Spirit and is trying to contact it again. The Opportunity is scheduled to land January 25. These twin missions have a total price tag of $820 million.
All of these missions are to test the theory of evolution. Perhaps comets are the key to how life started on earth. Since life evolved on earth, could the evolutionary process be observed on Mars as well? Sinful man desires to stamp out God’s creation account and be rid of anything similar to it. In its “Who Knew?” column, the August 2003 National Geographic had this to say in an article which reported that an emerging theory claims our universe is only one of many: “The inflationary theory states that very early in the expansion the cosmos suddenly inflated, becoming unimaginably vast in a fraction of a second.” In the December 2003 National Geographic, a reader had this response: “This idea is hardly new. It’s frighteningly similar to these ancient words: ‘In the beginning, God created the heavens ...’” Why the word “frighteningly”?
What will these probes find? This is where we should be careful. After all, years ago many in the church held that the earth was the centre of the universe, and they believed the Bible supported them in this claim. I am also reminded of family history. My great-grandmother had my family over for Sunday dinner the day the Apollo 11 astronauts landed on the moon. She refused to watch the television reports which covered this historic mission, because before he passed away, her husband had said that God would never allow man to land on the moon. He based this opinion on Psalm 115:16: “The heaven, even the heavens, are the Lord’s: but the earth hath he given to the children of men.” My great-grandfather felt God would not give the moon to men since it was part of the heavens. Man would be limited to the earth.
The Bible is an accurate account of history. What we observe in creation must be put under the authority of the Word as revealed to us by the Creator. We must not do as the theistic evolutionists and elevate “scientific findings” over the Bible.
There is a story of a now deceased minister which serves us as a good example. Back in the late 1960s or early 1970s, our churches were beginning to do some work with a group in the Houston, Texas area. This minister took a tour of the Johnson Space Center. He is reported to have spoken to an employee there. His words were something to the effect, “Why are you spending all this money to send men to the moon to find out how old it is? I can tell you exactly how old it is! The moon is one day younger than the earth because God created the earth on the third day and the moon on the fourth.”
Creation is tied to the gospel. What kind of God do we need to deliver us from our sins? Are our sins so minor that the perfectly holy God can easily forgive them because our sins are not that offensive to Him? Our salvation depends upon a God of strength, of strength great enough to speak the word and things are brought into existence. A God who cannot create all things in six days could not be strong enough to cleanse us from our sins. An Almighty God speaks. The result is: “and there was light.” This same God speaks, “Thy sins be forgiven thee.” Which of those two tasks requires the stronger arm?