OBSERVATIONS REGARDING THE INTELLECTUAL, ETHICAL AND SPIRITUAL FORMATION OF FUTURE “MARTIANS”
The Rev. James D. Heiser, M.Div.
If the purpose for going to Mars is for permanent colonization, the spiritual, ethical and intellectual formation of future ‘Martians’ should be a matter of intense interest. The focus of this paper is not on the scientific and/or technical training of potential first generation settlers, but concerns more fundamental aspects of their educational and spiritual formation.
The first generation of permanent settlers will have a defining role in shaping Martian culture for generations to come. Therefore, there are aspects of character beyond choice of vocation that are crucial in settlers. They must be more than simply intelligent; they must be virtuous. Settlers must be firmly established in their ethical standards because many of the challenges they will face will test their integrity. The colonization of Mars requires educated men and women capable of understanding our accumulated history and experience outside of narrow parochial perspectives.
In short, prospective settlers need to be ‘educated’ in the classic, liberal sense of the term. Such a liberal education is not in opposition to scientific training; rather, the first is foundational to the latter. Being truly educated is of service in any vocation and is of lasting benefit to the culture whether or not one goes to Mars. If a fruit of the Apollo program was numerous scientists and engineers, perhaps humanity will realize even greater gains from a generation that can revitalize Western culture.
Ultimately, culture arises from the cultus—a society’s foundational beliefs. The shared faith (or lack thereof) will profoundly shape a society. Many of the ills undermining present Western civilization are intimately linked to the decline of the sacred. Martian culture must witness a restoration of the role of the sacred within the lives of its people, or it will share the spiritual ills of our present culture.