The Next Fifty Years– was there a second genesis?


Welcome back. You belong here.

Paul Davies, theoretical physicist and a visiting professor at Imperial College London, suggests that within 50 years manned trips to Mars will answer the question: is there life and, if so, did life begin separately on the red planet?

In other words, was there a second genesis of life emerging from nonlife in our solar system.

Here’s the question: how would your worldview change if in fact life was discovered deep underneath the surface of Mars? Would there be things you would teach your children that you might not otherwise?

Davies suggests that “A great deal hinges on the outcome, because the search for life elsewhere is also a search for ourselves — who we are and what our place might be in the great cosmic scheme.”

If life here on earth is a “fluke confined to our little corner of the universe,” he argues, “our stewardship of the planet becomes all the more important.” [PN: I don’t see “why” this would make it more important]. But, Davies writes, “if we do find a second genesis, it will forever transform our science, religion, and worldview.”

So, what do you think? It’s the year 2051 and you telepathically engaged the microchip in your brain to scan your email and the news of the day. The top story is that scientists working on a station on Mars’ surface have discovered a bacteria deep underneath the ground.

Life “found a way” somewhere other than earth. How does your world change?

see you in the mystic…

Alex McManus
——————————————-
coming here at “into the mystic”:
->What does the future hold and how to predict it?
->The birthing of human machines.

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15 thoughts on “The Next Fifty Years– was there a second genesis?

  1. How does my world change? I honestly don’t know but I’m glad you asked. I’ve heard these worldview concerns for a long time but I’m afraid I don’t fully grasp how the discovery of life on other worlds would shake the foundations of any honest truth seeker. Is there any area of my life where I should make a rigid claim to absolute comprehension? I just don’t think that’s a good idea for a human. Galileo, Newton, Einstein, Quantum Mechanics, String Theory, they should have loosened us all up by now I think.

  2. I TOTALLY believe we are not the only living beings in the universe. As I study the stars and realize just how tiny we are, I have a REALLY hard time believing that God is limited in his creativity as to only pour into one tiny speck which is us. I think visiting the other planets in the unvierse will be a part of the fun of heaven.

  3. Two thoughts:
    1) It would immediately expand the mission field of Christ followers!;

    2) If Genesis 1:26-31 implies that God created humanity uniquely in His image to be his ambassadors to all creation (which I think that it does), then I do not think that the discovery of “life” elsewhere in the universe is problematic to a biblical worldview.

  4. Lori, exactly. Davies misses the humility that the biblical message fosters in an arrogant people. He must believe that religious people place themselves on a pedestal with their traditions supporting this posture.

    Brian, love it. Think of it. Unexplored (by us) frontiers for mission. Could their be in the future room again for Hudson Taylors and William Careys –with a little Captain James T. Kirk in ’em? btw, that’s my understanding of the Genesis passage as well.

    Shaman, since we don’t learn from the past, maybe some of us will learn from the future.

  5. Intriguing question, Alex. Thanks.

    I had a conversation about this with my dad, a long-time pastor, recently. We disagreed about how the possibility of life on another planet effects a biblical faith. He was fairly adamant that the Bible clearly teaches that life exists only on Earth. My thoughts were more in line with your comments, Lori. The larger the universe is – and I understand that science is discovering every year that it’s still bigger than they previously thought – the more it seems like wasted space for such a creative God.

    However, I’ve also been influenced by Louie Giglio’s teachings on the universe – the more we explore and discover, the farther out we go into space – the more we are awestruck by God’s glory. Could it be that the sole purpose for the vastness of space is to continually one-up our best science in order to point us to His greatness?

    Here’s one: What if Jesus is God incarnate on earth, our way to God, but there is another “way” for God’s non-Earth creatures to be in “right relationship” with Him?

    In other words, we have our “story” that we’re living in, but God has other civilizations that are living in a different “story”. Same God, multiple stories.

    Sorry for the long post. You just hit on something compelling for me. Thanks again.

  6. I agree with Lori and Alex– Davis misses the point of religion. As for there being other paths to God for denizens of other planets: God is. And the Bible doesn’t say he created a star and nine planets spinning around it; it says he hung the stars in their places. He created all earths and all suns. So while each planet may have it’s own creation, incarnation, and salvation story, I believe each story points to the same God, with the same character; and for all, the hope of glory to come.

    The Shaman is right; I don’t see how this changes our worldview greatly. There will just be more in the galaxy to awe us and for us to love. And maybe, by studying the creations on other planets and learning other civilizations’ God stories, we’ll come to have a clearer understanding of who he is.

  7. Mel,

    What if Jesus were not just the savior of earth but of the universe? A kind of Cosmic Christ?

    What a scandalous idea that would be… That the salvation of the universe could take place on a small planet on the edge of the Milky Way.

    In a way, that’s equally scandalous to the idea that a man who died in a small country in the middle east could somehow also be the savior of the world.

    i suspect, though, that all this is in fact true. it’s a scandal all the way around.

  8. Alex and all,
    I’ve only recently started reading your blog, but I find it intriguing– always have to come back for more. Thanks for expanding my thinking. What an awesome journey we have into the future– and what a terrific task for seizing the opportunities ahead! I look forward to learning more from your comments.

  9. Louis Morgan,

    As you look around, be sure and check out some of the back-posts. A good way to find them is under the Categories heading in the sidebar at right. Some of them are great reads, especially those under “The Search for the Mystic” and “Best of Into the Mystic.”

    Enjoy.

    -Mel

  10. Over two weeks later, and I’m still chewing on this post and everyone’s comments. Thanks for the discussion….

    I don’t see a way around the fact that the Bible is very Earth-centric.

    So, if there’s life found on another planet it might cause a lot of people to rethink their views on the Bible. Is it the complete Word of God? Nothing more, nothing less? If it’s not found in the Bible it can’t exist?

    I don’t happen to have those beliefs about the bible. I believe it is God inspired and everything that’s there is true and trustworthy. But I also believe that Jesus is God and that the Holy Spirit is God and that all Three (or One) are eternal, living, beings.

    God’s word is bigger than the bible. Can’t say I was comfortable saying that a few years ago….

  11. >>>Life “found a way” somewhere other than earth. How does your world change?>>we have our “story” that we’re living in, but God has other civilizations that are living in a different “story”. Same God, multiple stories.>>I don’t see a way around the fact that the Bible is very Earth-centric

  12. ***Life “found a way” somewhere other than earth. How does your world change?***

    Not much I don’t think. I mean if we were being invaded by alien forces—THAT might rock my world. Or if our species developed a relationship with another, that might be significant. But bacteria under some ice on Mars or a moon around Saturn, cool, but no biggie.

    Put into perspective the scale of the universe as science currently claims. Imagine all the grains of sand on all the beaches on earth. That’s how many stars are in our galaxy. Then there are that many galaxys, and I suspect that many universes, rather multiverses. With that scale would it be unbelievable to find life elsewhere?

    I seen Stephen Hawkins as a Macworld keynote speaker some years back in Boston. His sentiment was chances of life sparking anywhere—with all the factors that were needed to spark life— is nil. It could happen, but unlikely.

    Other scientists claim that a universe as large as ours WAS needed to spark life in this single, lonely outpost. The elements and minerals that make our bodies, our world—this biosphere—was the product of the evolution of stars. Where the universe started with basically just hydrogen and some helium. The iron, carbon, oxygen and all those other elements on that big chart in the science room came about from multiple generations of stars cooking in nuclear furnaces, one element baking into others. We being stardust is accurate.

    Theoretically, if The Big Guy created other living creatures on this planet, there’s no reason God wouldn’t elsewhere either.

    ***we have our “story” that we’re living in, but God has other civilizations that are living in a different “story”. Same God, multiple stories.***

    Perhaps. As I mentioned multiverses, who’s to say other universes are like ours. Or even physical. Perhaps some are different levels of consciousness. Certainly an adult has a greater consciousness of God than an infant, a child greater than a [civilized] adult. Certainly heaven is unlike our universe.

    ***I don’t see a way around the fact that the Bible is very Earth-centric***

    Probably because of a need to know basis and the fact of level of consciousness of the audience. I mean what more did a band of ancient nomads need to know than God created Creation in “six days?” Actually the Genesis story of Creation stands up firm against an empirical whipping. I’d say it’s pretty amazing that an ancient author could condense the story of Creation with such eloquency and relative scientific backing without divine inspiration.

    The account of Creation is condensed and matches pretty well with science’s chronology when “days” is viewed as an “era,” or a period of time. Day one matches the Proterozoic Era. Within the Devonian period of the Paleozoic era the first seed plants evolve, then the first vertebrate fishes, and simutaneous to amphibian development. Reptiles then later appear. Birds don’t appear until the middle of the Mesozoic era–after the first mammals and into the age of dinosaurs. After the dinosaur go extinct and into the beginning of the present Cenozoic era, the rise of mammals begins, eventually evolving the modern homo sapien species.

    For greater detail on this subject see:
    http://www.cyberalley.com/G-Home/R&D/R&D5/FofL17.html

    John Gnotek

  13. I really like the free-minded, God-fearing thinkers that frequent this blog. Regarding a second genesis, I’d like to take that even a step further. I dare say that this universe IS a second genesis, or a third. Or a continuous fluctuation of God’s creativity.

    Carlos Casteneda (of “The Teachings of Don Juan” fame) wrote in his last book before he died—”The Active Side of Infinity”— two poems that illustrate two perspectives of the same incident. I’d like to share these if I may—not as dogma, but as mind-stretching fodder:

    ———————–

    “Syntax”

    A man staring at his equations
    said that the universe had a beginning.
    There had been an explosion, he said.
    A bang of bangs, and the universe was born.
    And it is expanding, he said.
    He had even calculated the length of its life:
    ten billion revolutions of the earth around the sun.
    The entire globe cheered;
    They found his calculations to be science.
    None thought that by proposing that the universe began,
    the man had merely mirrored the syntax of his mother tongue;
    a syntax which demands beginnings, like birth,
    and developments, like maturation,
    and ends, like death, as statements of facts.
    The universe began,
    and it is getting old, the man assured us,
    and it will die, like all things die,
    like he himself died after confirming mathematically
    the syntax of his mother tongue (Castaneda ix).

    ————————————–

    “The Other Syntax”

    Did the universe really begin?
    Is the theory of the big bang true?
    These are not questions, though they sound like they are.
    Is the syntax that requires beginnings, developments
    and ends as statements of fact the only syntax that exists?
    That’s the real question.
    There are other syntaxes.
    There is one, for example, which demands that varieties
    of intensity be taken as facts.
    In that syntax nothing begins and nothing ends;
    thus birth is not a clean, clear-cut event,
    but a specific type of intensity,
    and so is maturation, and so is death.
    A man of that syntax, looking over his equations, finds that
    he has calculated enough varieties of intensity
    to say with authority
    that the universe never began
    and will never end,
    but that it has gone, and is going now, and will go
    through endless fluctuations of intensity.
    That man could very well conclude that the universe itself
    is the chariot of intensity
    and that one can board it
    to journey through changes without end.
    He will conclude all that, and much more,
    perhaps without ever realizing
    that he is merely confirming
    the syntax of his mother tongue (Castaneda xi).

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