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A Corner of My Mind: God’s Kitchen

After six days of poker, or maybe 13 billion years ago, God cashes in His chips for the night and switches on the universe. Perhaps He looks around at flashing stars and elegant rotating galaxies and thinks,

“This is Good … but it needs something more. Dark matter? OK. Dark energy? Why not?” But none of this fills a certain emptiness in His cosmic soul. “Aha!” He might have exclaimed and snapped His fingers. “Soul food.” And, just like that, He’s in His kitchen. “Hmmm,” He says as He considers food for thought.

Spiral down to a read Earth four billion years ago. The moon is close and fills the sky. It’s a hellish planet, bombarded by comets and asteroids, with boiling oceans and molten rock. If you ever discover time travel, don’t go there. It will kill you. But God in His kitchen begins to mix a pinch of salt, adds water, carbon 13 and some other stuff, like amino acids. Maybe He points a finger and lightening stabs the brew. However He does it, He comes up with a recipe for simple molecules, but for them to replicate, they have to gather together and become complex. It isn’t difficult. After all, He’s God. He points a finger and commands, “Gather together!” And the molecules stir and huddle and form DNA to carry their information to new generations. He smiles and the angels sing. Then he embeds His primordial life into comets and flings them at Earth. “Let there be Life!” God commands. And there is life. But the angels stop singing and glance sheepishly at each other. He has missed and hit Mars instead. “Hmmm,” God says, furrows His mighty brows and goes on to other solar systems.

Time passes. Now it’s 3.8 billion years ago and a strange occurrence takes place. A meteorite from Mars, harboring primitive cells encased in membranes, gets knocked off the planet and plops down to Earth.

Time continues to pass. On Father Mars, without a magnetic field to protect it — just another thing He overlooked — life loses its hold. While on Earth, with the recipe just right — Goldilocks would have been happy — life flourishes, evolves, eats each other and adapts to every available niche. Selective breeding is the mover; survival of the fittest plays a role.

You know the rest.

Now we peer at the sky and some of us claim to have seen UFOs. “The aliens have landed!” they cry. If the biologists are right with these theories, the aliens truly have landed. We have met the aliens and they are us. For every living organism on Earth belongs to the same Tree of Life. Well, with a possible exception. It seems that in the mud of a California lake there are some very different microbes that didn’t fall from our Tree. Shadow microbes, scientists call them. They grow in a toxic environment, with enough arsenic to kill our distant progenitors. If this is really a different form of life, seeded from still other planets, then it’s possible that the universe is teeming with all sorts of adaptable life.

A pinch of salt, some carbon 13, amino acids — Oh yeah, don’t forget the arsenic.

Source: Science Channel — Through the Wormhole.