Contemplating the Cosmos: The Martian Inquisition

cosmos“Why so many eager speculation and ardent fantasies about Martians, rather than, say, Saturnians or Plutonians? Because Mars seems, at first glance, very Earth-like. It is the nearest planet whose surface we can see. There are polar ice caps, drifting white clouds, raging dust storms, seasonally changing patterns on its red surface, even a twenty-four-hour day.”[1]

“Viking has provided definitive or at least plausible answers… the cameras revealed no sign of canal builders, no Barsoomian air-cars or short swords, no princesses or fighting men, no thoats, no footprints, not even a cactus or a kangaroo rat. As far as we could see, there was not a sign of life.”[2]

“…there is no compelling evidence for microbiology on Mars.”[3]

In fact, I am not aware of any biological life anywhere other than on Earth, and unaware of any evidence that might suggest that there is. Let us assume for a moment that life was able to emerge on Mars, and that by whatever mode, it developed into some form of intelligent life. Would these Martians look at our planet the same way that we look at theirs? One day, might we see a probe coming from the sky in order to test our atmosphere and our land and our seas? Would they be surprised to find life here? Would we be excited to discover our orbital neighbors, there?

A day in the life of a Martian

Imagine a scenario in which NASA viewed the video footage of a probe on the red planet. While exploring one of the caves on this planet, liquid water might be found as it comes up from a spring, originating under Mars’ soft crust. There might be what looks like a primeval bed and across it might lay an animal skin that is probably used as a blanket, but the temperature change would be too drastic for anyone to spend the night in a cave on Mars’ surface.

Near the spring, there might be a hatch that seems to lead underground. It might be thrust open in the presence of the investigative rover and a creature carrying a knife might step from within. His skin might look like that of a frog, though he might walk on two legs like a man and wear skins from some animal. He might look at the rover that came off the probe, which could be about half his height and yell out in some foreign language. His voice might be higher pitched than one would expect. Soon, more might emerged from the hole in the ground. This would be the final transmission from this rover. Either the Martians would be curious or feel threatened.


There seems a certain degree of speculation that is required for the advance of human knowledge. If it were not for speculation or imagination, computers would not have been invented and theories not posited. Indeed, you would not be reading this right now. While on many occasions human speculation seems to fail in producing anything other than fiction, there are also many instances in which speculation drives humanity on to new discoveries and new inventions.

Imagination is the heartbeat of creativity and while I am skeptical of theories like those of Darwinian evolution or the plurality of worlds, I must respect the imaginative process involved. For, our God is a creator and is Himself the epitome of what it means to have imagination. In the development of these theories and hypotheses, everyone who uses his imaginative facilities reflects part of God’s nature and, thus, praises and glorifies the One who imagined and created this very universe and all of its complexities that humankind gets to discover.

I must thank God for giving people the ability and the capacity to imagine and to speculate. For, how could we grow at all without this capacity?

[1] Sagan, 109

[2] Ibid. 126

[3] Ibid. 132

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