Life On Mars and Other Headlines

MarsWell, nobody has brought it up, amazingly, so I thought I’d ask around.

What does everyone here think of this alleged discovery of microscopic organic life on Mars?

There is still a ton of verification yet to be done, and some of the evidence has yet to be explained, such as how they’re so sure that this fossil- bearing meteor comes from Mars. I also worry that there may be some in the scientific community who will be lax on the normal rigorous checking and rechecking required to provide solid proof.

But if it is true – which is still an “if,” even in the mind of a space advocate like myself – this could well be the most important discovery in the history of mankind.

Most people, as well as the media, seem to be focusing on the most ridiculously pedestrian or unlikely implications of this discovery. CNN interviewed William Shatner on Wednesday night and asked him what he thought – “I knew it all along,” said the intrepid cap’n, who then proceeded to plug his latest TekWar book, which takes place on Mars…such sparking scientific insight from Mr. Shatner! – and one “man on the street” interviewed said he wouldn’t believe it until he saw “the little green men landing.”

Well, we’re not going to see the little green men landing, pal. This finding has wide-ranging implications, but they are not merely limited to space science or national security. The serious suggestion that there was once life on Mars spreads out to touch on nearly every science, including ecology, philosophy, theology, sociology…you name it.

Ecologically speaking, the key phrase in NASA’s claims is that there “may have been life” on Mars. Past tense. As in, “There’s no life there now.” This would mean that Mars once had a viable ecosystem, but no longer has such an environment, or at least no longer has what we might recognize as a viable ecosystem. It could be argued that Earth’s environment is on the same downhill slide. Not to suggest that any kind of huge civilization ignorantly obliterated the Martian ecosphere, but it would be worth studying any natural causes for that kind of event. It could provide keys to preventing the same fate for Earth.

Philosophically and religiously, the possibility of life on Mars will have effects from one extreme to the other, depending on the individual. Some will actively deny or avoid the subject – indeed, as you saw above, some already are – and others may have to change their entire worldview. If God created life on Earth, did He create life on Mars as well? On which day did He do this, and why? And there will doubtlessly be those who pop out of the woodwork – as has been happening for years on the subject of homosexuality – trying to interpret the Bible and other texts to include or exclude the views with which they agree/disagree.

The reaction of large bodies of people will also be interesting to observe. I doubt there’s any reason to fear an alien invasion, but the responses to the news will be revealing and possibly disturbing.

I think it’s time to re-evaluate the mostly-dormant, earth-based U.S. space program, not in hopes of making contact with anything, but basically as an archaeological fact-finding mission.

Do I think it’s possible that life existed on Mars? When there’s water deep-frozen in the polar caps, when there are canyons and surface features that look like the product of wind and water erosion and not just meteor craters… yes. It’s possible. And if the first fruits of the search for possible life, even extinct life, appear on one of our neighboring planets in our own solar system, the prospects for life elsewhere and throughout the universe are staggering.

It’s just possible that the universe has become a much more interesting place.

Now for some other interesting headlines.

Some kid is trying to sue Pepsi for fraudulent advertising because he accumulated X million Pepsi Points and sent them in to Pepsi and demanded a Harrier jump jet, just like the commercial says. If this fellow had called Pepsi’s bluff and just done this for the publicity, that would have been funny. But what does this civilian with no military or flight experience expect – that a soft drink manufacturer is going to provide him with a $70 million piece of military hardware? I guess satire is about to be declared illegal. Better put my face on the posters now, because I’ll still be indulging in that terrible, fraudulent deadpan humor. The evidence is on your screen as you read this!

And the most tactless lead line of the night award goes to KFSM, our local CBS station, for this winner: “The Dallas Cowboys football team may get a much- needed shot in the arm as Michael Irving returns after charges of drug abuse.” Uh, sorry. There’s no way in hell someone just pulled that one out of their hat – somebody had to be thinking of doing that one!

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