Anyone who grew up in the '60s understands the fascination with Mars and all things Martian.
After all, who wouldn't want to discover a life form capable of moving objects by merely pointing at them, or telepathically communicating wants and needs, approval or disapproval? A life form that disappears or retracts its antennae at will? A life form characterized by an affable Uncle Martin who can't resist using his powers and technological knowledge to get himself or his nephew out of trouble? This is what we children of the '60s came to expect of life on the Red Planet, as we sat glued week after week to the television series "My Favorite Martian."
Today, with considerably more knowledge of the environment on Mars, we recognize that if material life is found there, it might be a little different from what we envisioned.
From the first pictures back, it appears that the only moving things are rovers rather than rabbits. The terrain is stark and bleak with no hint of trees or shrubs or even water to sustain them. Yet, scientists remain optimistic as Spirit and Opportunity reach out their robotic fingers to touch lake beds that might have contained water, a key element for the existence of life as we know it.
For me, Spirit and Opportunity raise questions about the existence of life. There's something thrilling about the exploration of life forms totally different from what we're accustomed to.
I recall the first time I went to Australia and saw kangaroos and emus in the bush. Their movements were different from anything I'd ever seen before, so I imagined what it would be like to go to another planet or galaxy where life might be Star Trekish.
Is it possible to rely on carbon as the sole building block of life? Some scientists have suggested that hydrogen might be an alternative element, an option that would open vistas for consideration. However, there's one element that has yet to be considered in the exploration of space. That element provides even more thrilling possibilities because it is not limited to atom and molecule.
Consider for a moment the possibility that life is wholly spiritual, not constituted of matter at all. What are the vistas such a discovery would open? How would we then observe the form, outline, and color of such a life? What limitations would we shed individually and collectively?
Mary Baker Eddy, who founded this newspaper, thought about such things. She saw both Life and Spirit as synonymous terms for God and therefore as synonymous with each other. God's universe, including all of life as Spirit's offspring, is entirely spiritual. As such, it is separate from matter and therefore not subject to the limiting laws of matter. But just as in the exploration of Mars, discovering this requires that we push out the preconceived notions of what life is. When we do, we might find promise as Mrs. Eddy envisions in her textbook on Christian Science, "Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures": "As mortals gain more correct views of God and man, multitudinous objects of creation, which before were invisible, will become visible (page 264).
I want to see them all. Perceiving those objects of creation that were invisible offers a greater frontier to explore than Mars or Venus or Jupiter. And we can do it without expensive spacecraft, robots, or computer chips.
Discovering the universe of Spirit opens up the certitude of eternal life with no fear of death - a life that is infinitely good and promises abundant health, harmony, and love for every facet of God's creation. In this universe, every single idea is fit to survive. No one is left behind. No one ails, fails, or is rendered obsolete. No one is outside the infinite arms of Life.
Mrs. Eddy wrote about the impact this might have on one's life: "When we realize that Life is Spirit, never in nor of matter, this understanding will expand into self-completeness, finding all in God, good, and needing no other consciousness" (page 264).
So, as the exploration of Mars proceeds, why not use it as an impetus for probing the terrain of Spirit to discover what Life is really about?