Monday, November 15, 2010

Boldly Go Boldly

I'm the type of soul that is only ever really able to keep one clear thought in his mind at a time. The result of living then, is a library of kept thoughts, little schticks that I have coveted from past time spent in labor. The following harkens to the schtick that tends to bear itself as one of the issues most center to my core m.o. in striving forward through the days:

This week, two scientists in Washington came out to propose a plan for a manned Mars mission.* The catch that makes their proposal so bold and perhaps obscene, is that the mission calls only for a one-way ticket. Whoever makes the voyage would have to stay there. Forever. Conceivably then, this would usher in the era of not only the first person to step foot on another planet, but additionally the first soul to die on alien ground. 

So far, it appears the proposition is not accumulating many encouraging remarks. This should be expected. As Americans, we have long held the human life as the that thing with which chief importance is carried. We would never let one of our own die out there. 

Now, as a Christian, I lament what I perceive in much of the popular Christian movement particularly in the last hundred years as being anti-scientific. It is true that God has revealed Himself in many ways, and surely He does so by creation itself. Jesus said that if the people stopped praising His name the rocks would cry out. All the universe speaks to God's majesty. If then, we seek to discover the secrets of the rules of the universe, as long as we do so humbly, we have another glimmer of seeing God's character at work. We call this general revelation. 

I would go so far as to say that as Christians, we have a duty to seek God through discovery of the cosmos. Granted, I understand that through science alone we will never reach God's touch. Nevertheless, if we seek out the knowledge of the universe in humility and with an eye to please God by being enamored at His great handiwork, then is it not a magnificent form of worship. 

Please accept my premise of discovery as indicative to the Christian life. If so, we can move on...

We can't send our best astronauts to Mars to live and die. It's not feasible. It's not reasonable. It's just not going to happen. 

 BUT! What if we send our worst?  

Embrace it for a second. The murderers, the rapists; they deserve suffering, death, and the eternal torment of hell. But what if we collectively offered those most condemned among us a chance at redemption?  

We take men and women sentenced with the death penalty, and we say, "Here, you can serve our nation by means of sacrificing your days in pursuit of this great conquest." 

In the book of Deuteronomy, we read about the Cities of Refuge. These were towns established strictly for manslaughterers. They could claim a sort of sanctuary in these towns. We can do the same thing with Mars! Mars becomes the great city of refuge! 

So, whaddaya think? Sound like a plan?

Let's start tomorrow! No, today! Even now. Now.


  1. An interesting idea. All throughout history prisoners have been the test subjects of what most American's would call less scrupulous nations. Setting aside the moral implications, I think the real question is would such a plan be logistically prudent?

    This isn't Armageddon (ironically one of the most scientifically weak movies of the last 20 years). A space mission with a rag tag crew can't just be thrown together. These prisoners would need to be highly educated and trained. If they aren't then i don't really see a purpose for the mission besides being able to say "we put a man on mars...and he's still there." The US would put billions upon billions of dollars into a program that will be at least partially influenced by prisoners knowing that their immediate death is imminent. How would these men act? Could we rely on them? I mean...death row inmates are not exactly the cream of the crop. We could look for volunteers beyond death row, but I would argue that no man could really know what he is volunteering for in a situation like this. All in all, with the world's economy as it is (America leading the way) i just don't see any mission to mars as being feasible, even in theory...

    On another topic, have you ever read "Creator and the Cosmos"? While I can't say I subscribe to all of the ideas proposed, I have never read a book that better portrays the intricacy and detail of the universe pointing toward a divine creator.

  2. In theory, my theory (Ha!) is as much about giving our worst sinners a place to seek redemption in this life. Maybe that's playing God a bit... but it still is tickling to think about.

    Also of fun consequence, is the notion of interstellar travel from a theological view. It seems to me that our home for eternity is not so much a Heaven as it is the New Earth. So then, it would seem existentially quite strange if you claimed for yourself a home on a non-earth rock. And from a technical aspect, how then would you meet Christ in the clouds?

    I jest, but with a faint sense of wonder as well.

  3. I haven't read "Creator of the Cosmos" but did read some passages from it for a class some time ago.

    I am curious, what material in it do you not see eye-to-eye with?

  4. Wow, that is a thought provoking idea for sure. How would we meet him in the clouds!? Sensational point. I wonder if the new heaven and new earth will even been in this plane of existence.

    As far as "Creator and the Cosmos" goes, I don't have the book handy to quote specific points. However, he is a strong theistic evolutionist/old earth believer and the whole book is based on that premise. That is still a very difficult idea to get my mind around. Death before sin (evolution) and a creation of the universe that seems to be out of order according to Genesis. He tries to find workarounds and does not disregard scripture, yet it is just a big pill for me to swallow.

    That being said, the mathematical argument he puts up for the necessity of a creator is matchless. His calculations are incredibly thought provoking. It gives me confidence to say, "I lean toward a young earth where God has created apparent age in everything, but even if this is an Old earth and old universe there is still a decisively strong need for a creator."

  5. Man alive, I am timid to broach the subject of evolution, since I was raised in a highly young earth environment, but have certain leanings towards old earth.

    Here's my hang-up.

    Old-Earth: Death before the fall. How can that be possible?
    Young-Earth: Everything has been made to show the signs of age. That seems to make God out to be deceiving.

    Also with theistic evolution, the soul debate comes back... and goodness the monkeys give me migraines when they do intelligent things... and the stinkin' hippos with their hippo funerals... and the dolphins with their gang rape. Sigh...

  6. Mammals dying after the death of their young, the incredible hierarchy of elephant herds, any time a gorilla uses sign language... Dolphins also hunt for sport which pretty much makes them the humans (read: bastards) of the sea.

    Let me pose this question then. was God deceptive if he created Adam with age? Tree's with age? Animals with age? I think we are hampered by our linear outlook on time. God didn't need to create a seed any more than he needed to create the universe without age. Additionally, without apparent age we wouldn't be able to see the stars at all, so it seems either he had to create them with apparent age or he shouldn't have bothered creating them at all (assuming a young earth model).

    Disregarding the idea of evolution (as I also do not need to be wrapped up in that discussion) how do you get around the timeline of creation in your leanings? Not days vs eras but the sun, moon, and stars not coming till the fourth day.

    You really need to read that book Mr. Stack. You would enjoy it.

  7. Alright, Mr. White, it has been added to my list.

    Reading Genesis 1 does sound very literal to me, as there is a morning, and an evening. My mind is quick to argue that the writer is making it clear that the timeline is literal. And then Gen. 2 happens and seems to come at it from another angle. I will also say that it has hit me as intriguing how (aside from the sun and stars bit) the course of the days tends to line up with evolution. All in all, however, I admit I am far out of my league.

    Interesting point about the necessity of age for the stars.