Finding Life in Unexpected Places
Brian D. Dykstra, teacher at Hope PRCS in Walker, MI
“And I will give them one heart, and I will put a new spirit within you; and I will take the stony heart out of their flesh, and will give them an heart of flesh: That they may walk in my statutes, and keep mine ordinances, and do them: and they shall be my people, and I will be their God” (Eze. 11:19-20).
The June 2004 issue of Sky and Telescope contained a remarkable article. “New Hope for Life Beyond Earth” was written by Paul Davies, a physicist at the Australian Centre for Astrobiology.
Davies begins by recounting the surprising discoveries of the research submarine Alvin. In the early 1970s, the Alvin explored volcanic vents on the floor of the Pacific Ocean. “Biologists were amazed to see a variety of organisms living near the vents, in total darkness, and at enormous pressures.” These organisms were called “hyperthermophiles,” which refers to living things which can live in very high temperatures. This term is in contrast to thermophiles, which are organisms that live in high temperatures.
More fascinating discoveries have followed. “A few years later Cornell astrophysicist Thomas Gold ... persuaded the Swedish government to back a controversial drilling project.” Davies continues, “... the borehole drilled in the remote forests of Sweden did turn up something important: traces of organisms living several kilometres keep in the Earth’s crust.”
Davies reports, “At first Gold’s claim to have found signs of life so far underground was greeted with scepticism and even outright hostility. Colleagues were openly scornful, and Gold had trouble getting his results published. But by the mid-1990s several other research groups were finding microbes a kilometre or so deep too. In particular, boreholes drilled in the Columbia River region of Washington yielded a rich harvest of organisms, some of which were extracted and cultured in the laboratory.”
“About the same time, the International Ocean Drilling Project was recovering rock samples from nearly a kilometre beneath the seabed that were literally seething with microbes. It began to seem as if microbial life pervades the Earth’s subsurface to a depth of some kilometres. Because temperature rises with depth due to Earth’s internal heat, these deep-living organisms are also mostly thermophiles or hyperthermophiles. While it is too soon to say how extensive this deep, hot biosphere may be, it is clearly widespread, and its existence must be factored into the story of life.”
As is typical, a few scientific facts lead to flights of fancy. Davies then explains the implications of the discovery of deep-rock microbes for the search for life beyond Earth. Since organisms can live in such extreme environments on Earth, there is more hope for discovering life on the moons of Jupiter and on the planet Mars. The article concludes with several new speculations about how life may have evolved on Earth. For example, Davies wonders whether life could have first evolved in rocks on Mars, then transported to Earth when something crashed into Mars, sending rocks (with microbes protected inside) into space. These rocks then could have come to Earth. One cannot help but wonder why evolutionists find the Genesis account to be less plausible.
Nevertheless, what a testimony of God’s power in creation in that He can put life in a place where we would not expect to find it! There is life in solid rock! What would appear to have no possibility of harbouring life, has life.
We are reminded of God’s power of regeneration. Ezekiel 11:19 speaks of God taking away our heart of stone and giving us a heart of flesh. We totally depraved sinners, who have no hope of producing any spiritual life of ourselves, have life implanted in us by God. Our stony hearts, hard, cold, lifeless and resistant to God’s precepts, have been replaced with hearts of flesh which are soft, warm, lively and pliable to God’s law.
The verse above is clear that regeneration is God’s work. We read nothing here of man first being willing to be the object of God’s work. Ezekiel does not say that we must accept God’s offer of a heart of flesh. It is not the case that the elect had stony hearts which were principally better than the stony hearts of the reprobate. God alone has placed life where we could never hope to find it of ourselves.
Ezekiel 11:20 tells us the purpose of this work. We will be His people and He will be our God. We will experience and express the life of God’s covenant. May God grant that our children give evidence of this new life in our covenant schools.