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God of the universe

The question is not about life on Mars, but life on Earth

Issue: "Follow the Greenback Road," Jan. 25, 1997

Of course there's life on mars. even if some moderns agree, however, they don't necessarily know what we are talking about.

The present scientific loquacity on this subject echoes a house divided. International pundits speak confusedly over the significance of minerals that supposedly were deposited 3 billion years ago in bits of Martian planetary crust that recently fell to Earth. A team of British scientists contends that evidence of ancient Martian life exists in the meteorites that have arrived from Mars. A group of American geologists reverses the assumption; it holds that Earthly elements actually contaminated the meteorites.

For more than a century some commentators have claimed direct evidence for life on Mars, but most scientists are more cautious. That there are seasonal changes on Mars is well established. Some astronomers long argued that scores of apparently straight lines are actually canals or channels created by intelligent Martians. Yet claims even for the existence of organic molecules on Mars have been repeatedly revised. Though extraterrestrial life may exist, direct evidence has been lacking.

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In any event, no nation is planning to colonize Mars just yet, and nobody seems eager to move there except for a few space agency enthusiasts. The Russian space probe collapsed in mid-November when a fourth-stage booster faltered. President Clinton, although still professedly interested in a balanced budget, wants the American space program to deploy its intellectual and technical resources to probe life on Mars and urges Vice President Gore to convene a &quotbipartisan space summit."

The bible rejects the legendary population of outer space by idolatrous gods and demi-gods, but it insists nonetheless that there are divinely created creatures other than man and the lower animals, in particular angelic beings and cherubim and seraphim that populate the spiritual realm.

Even more pointedly, Scripture insists that there is life on Mars and even throughout the whole universe (and not alone on Earth). The Living God is omnipresent. The entire space-time universe is governed by a divine order, an order that is all the more impressive as the outer reaches of space are extended. God is Lord of all space-time reality, and he speaks to humans in and through all of nature. More comprehensively than even the ancient Psalmist suspected, &quotThe heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands" (Psalm 19:1). The universe itself may pass away, but God and his Word will abide. When doomsday comes, God and the Ten Commandments will remain unmenaced. While the universe has many timetables, God has an all-inclusive plan. That plan focuses on planet Earth as the scene of the divine redemptive drama.

Despite the fact that humans have five billion neighbors, modern mankind is unspeakably lonely. We are looking for galactic company. Since our contemporaries have reduced the human species to a chance evolutionary emergent, anthropoids seek firm anchorage. Like all Earthly neighbors we have a discouraging health chart. All are sinners and share a secret fear of impending doom.

To look reassuringly for life on Mars is an evasive option. It does not cope with the controversy over the intrinsic meaning of life. It channels abiding spiritual priorities into ever-shifting scientific curiosity. The real issue may well be not whether there is life on Mars but whether there is life--real life--on Earth, or only pseudo-life that passes for the real thing. When Christ who is the Life returns, will he find authentic life on the planet where he died and rose to set sinners free?

Doubtless we all need companionship, but Mars won't help us much. If there is personal life on Mars someone should hurriedly warn the Martians that Earthlings are coming and that, before we corrupt them, Martians had best securely isolate themselves. If Martians have responded obediently to the Creator's self-revelation, invading Earthlings had better return home at the speed of light and repent for their plastic priorities.

The Christian philosopher Augustine rightly characterized life at its best: &quotThou hast made us for Thyself, O God, and our hearts are ever restless until they find their rest in Thee." And the English hymn writer Isaac Watts appropriately reminds us that one need not launch himself to Mars to find the best that the whole planetary system offers: &quotAnd everywhere that man can be/Thou, God, art present."

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