Panspermia is the name of a hypothesis that life on Earth might have originated elsewhere and come to Earth in the form of microorganisms or seeds. These organisms or seeds may have traveled among the stars, perhaps hitchhiking on dust, rocks, and comets, until they found a favorable environment.
There are several versions of the Panspermia hypothesis. Some claim that the origin of life is the natural and necessary outcome of chemical determinism, with molecules powered by starlight connecting with one another in parsimonious-energy bonds to produce carbon compounds, amino acids, and other chemicals which continued combining and replicating, and which evolved into living things. Some skip this step, and address only how these living things might have reached Earth.
Other versions of the Panspermia hypothesis do not attempt to explain how life originated, but suggest only that life came into being and then was transported to Earth. However, if life “came into being,” and especially if it were brought to Earth by an intelligence, the question arises, “Whence this life?” This is a first-cause question, not unlike the question, “If god created the universe, who created god?” By “god” I mean not only he of the Old Testament and of the Koran, but also the Babylonian god, Kingu, who created humankind from his blood and was himself born of primal gods of unspecified origin. I include as well the Hindu Cosmic Egg of uncertain origin, American Aboriginal stories of migration from other worlds, and myriad other myths that describe the over 2,500 gods humans have created since history began recording them.
On this page, we will explore various notions and hypotheses of Panspermia. We will attempt to decide if any of these hypotheses have risen to the level of a theory. We will examine abiogenesis (“life from nothing”). Along the way, we will look at some of the origin stories mentioned earlier. We will search out arguments both for and against the Panspermia hypothesis and of its various components.
You are cordially invited to hitch a ride on a comet, and follow this exploration.
And, you are invited to read “The Stuff of Life: Book I,” which presents a fact-based story with spaceships, faster-than-light drive, telepathy, and battles in space—a story of what might have been.