If C.S. Lewis Met E.T.

Scientists and theologians on the possibility of extraterrestrial life. /

Praise the Lord. Praise the Lord from the heavens; praise him in the heights above. Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his heavenly hosts. Praise him, sun and moon; praise him, all you shining stars. Praise him, you highest heavens and you waters above the skies. Let them praise the name of the Lord, for at his command they were created. (Ps. 148:1–5)

We are an Earth-bound species, with Earth-bound concerns. And for most of us, our worship and devotional lives—including our reading and understanding of Scripture—center on this terrestrial planet we call home.

But we are rapidly discovering scientific knowledge about another part of God’s universe, which we see when we look up at the stars. NASA’s Curiosity rover has been busy exploring and studying the surface of the fourth rocky planet from the Sun, Mars. Curiosity’s preliminary findings may be ushering in a new era and need for theological and spiritual reflection.

We now have definitive evidence for organic molecules both in the atmosphere and in the rocks of the planet Mars. On Earth, organic molecules are the stuff of life. This could mean that life, microbial life that is, exists now on Mars. Or this evidence could be a sign of past life. Some speculate that that living organisms did not produce these molecules at all; instead they may have been produced by chemical and geological processes. There is still much more work to be done, which will require the specialized tools of the next Mars rover mission, tentatively planned for 2020 by NASA.

It's likely we will have an answer to the Mars question within two to three decades at most. If the new science of astrobiology, which explores these questions, provides ...

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Also in this Issue

Issue 16 / February 19, 2015
  1. Editors’ Note
  2. Are Butterflies a New Creation After All?

    Their metamorphosis has inspired spiritual metaphors and biological debate for centuries. /

  3. George Whitefield, Divine Matchmaker

    The revivalist preached, ‘Come and be married to Christ’—and sparked the Great Awakening. /

  4. Thy Maker is thy Husband

    The 18th-century poem on union with Christ that became George Whitefield’s favorite metaphor. /

  5. Wonder on the Web

    Links to amazing stuff /

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