The Rev. Dr. Marc A. Wessels
The challenge of exploring and developing human habitation on the planet Mars is an exciting proposition for a space-faring nation such as ours. As we celebrate the 30th anniversary of the success of our first lunar landing by the manned crew of Apollo 11, we are challenged to be conscious of the importance of religious values in the development and implementation of a strategy which will ensure the success of such a Martian venture.
While we live in an age of continuing scientific discovery and technological marvels, as humans we must never forget that our human nature is not limited to the physical plane. Humans are by nature spiritual creatures designed by a loving Creator with a higher purpose in mind. The world’s religious traditions that have emerged over thousands of years articulate the perspective that humanity is called to understand its relationship to the natural world by acknowledging the Creator and Sustainer of all of life.
As persons who hunger to discover more about our wonderful planet earth and its solar system, and as people committed to the permanent establishment of a human presence on Mars, we must not neglect our spiritual side, our religious values, which have shaped our earthbound activities and our first tentative steps into outer space. Our failure to acknowledge, indeed to embrace and espouse religious values in this proposition would ensure the failure to achieve our purposes as they have been outlined in the tenets of the Founding Declaration of the Mars Society that was composed and signed last year.
Members of the Mars Society, the National Space Society, the Planetary Society, SETI, and other pro-space organizations would be wise to consider the importance of religious values in creating a diverse, solid base of support for the Martian Venture. If we do not explore, grapple with, comprehend, and commit ourselves to utilizing religious values in the Martian venture we might just as well stay on Earth!