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Tuesday, September 25, 2012

Life on Mars: Christian speculations

"Face" on Mars (NASA Photo)
These days, people seem Curiouser and Curiouser about the possibilities of life on Mars.  However, this is nothing new.  Wikipedia explains that there have been speculations about such possibilities for
centuries, "owing to the planet's proximity and similarity to Earth."

David Wilkinson, in his 2004 Plain Truth article Missionaries to Mars? The religious implications of the search for life in the Universe, points out that "the Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence
(SETI) can in part be traced back to a Christian motivation."  He cites historical giants such as Kepler and Galileo, as well as lesser-known
figures such as astronomers Bentley and Huygens (all of whom contended that moons and suns apart from Earth's own were created by God in order to assist beings who lived in places other than Earth).  Wilkinson then offers this quote from Christian cosmologist Edward Arthur Milne:  Is it irreverent to suggest that an infinite God could scarcely find the opportunities to enjoy himself, to exercise his godhead, if a single planet were the seat of his activities?

Although some have contended that the discovery of extraterrestrial intelligence (ETI) would undermine the Christian belief in a special relationship between God and humans, Wilkinson points out that "special" does not necessarily mean "exclusive."  He compares the "special but not exclusive" relationship between God and God's people to the relationship that a human parent might have with each of his or her many children.

Another issue that has certainly been on Christian minds is this:  If intelligent extraterrestrials do exist, have they also sinned?  (If so, did Jesus come for them as well?  If so, did Jesus incarnate in more than one world?  If so, was He also crucified and resurrected in each of those incarnations?)

Wilkinson concludes that our search for life on Mars is essentially religious in nature.  It is part of a longing to relieve our "cosmic loneliness," to figure out who we are and why we are here, and to seek a better life elsewhere.


Copyright September 25, 2012 by Linda Van Slyke   All Rights Reserved

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