WILL THE GOSPEL BE PREACHED ON MARS?

Anonymous

(Investigator 156, 2014 May)

"…about 200,000 people have applied to join Mars One, the private project that claims it will send humans on a one-way trip to the Red Planet by 2023." (New Scientist 14 September, 2013, p. 7)


IS THE BIBLE WRONG?

One cold, clear night in October1957 I was the youngest of six primary school students in Adelaide who took turns with binoculars to search the sky for the Soviet Union's newly launched Sputnik satellite. Twelve years later I worked in an office and joined the staff by a television set to watch Neil Armstrong walk on the Moon.

I knew of Christians at the time (i.e. 1969) who claimed humans would not reach the Moon because the Moon is in the "heavens" and the Bible says: "The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth he has given to human beings." (Psalms 115:16)

However, humans did reach the Moon in 1969 and several times afterwards. Did Neil Armstrong by walking on the Moon prove the Bible wrong? What about Mars?


DESTINATION MARS

Nigel Henbest (2013) reports that two companies are planning to send people to Mars before any government does.

Mars One is headed by Bas Lansdorp. The other is Inspiration Mars founded by multimillionaire Dennis Tito.

Inspiration Mars planned to send two astronauts in 2018 on a privately funded 501-day spaceflight to Mars without landing and back to Earth.

The date, 2018, was chosen: "Because of the way the planets align, there is a very good launch window in 2018, when the round trip will take only 501 days, instead of two years or more."

The current record for living in Space is 438 days by Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov (b. 1942) in 1994-1995 on the now defunct Mir space station. Polyakov suffered no permanent physical problems and at 72 remains active. The extra 63 days in Space for a Mars orbit therefore seems compatible with health and safety. The expense, however, has proved too great to cover philanthropically and help from NASA was sought. (New Scientist, 30 November, 2013, p. 9)

The Mars One plan is for the astronauts to remain on Mars, commence colonization, and live out their lives there. Robotic and supply missions are planned to start in 2016 and the first four colonists to leave Earth in 2024.

The Weekend Australian
     (2014) reported that 1058 candidates out of 200,000 had met the criteria to train for the Mars colonization project:
Just 24 of them will be sent over six launches starting in 2024, according to Mars One, the Dutch-based non-profit group behind the endeavour.

The space-bound settlers will be on one-way tickets to the Red Planet… Costs are too high to contemplate a return trip.  
The cost of sending "self sufficient living modules" followed by the colonists is estimated at $6000 million or $6 billion.

Genuine colonization would eventually have to include pregnancies and babies. Whether women can get pregnant in the lower gravity and whether the fetus would develop normally is unknown. Tentative suggestions are that the colonists will find this out around 2035.


THE BIBLE

"In the beginning God created the heavens [i.e. the sky] and the earth." (Genesis 1:1)

The word "earth" here translates the Hebrew "ehretz". "Ehretz" occurs about 2,500 times in the Old Testament and is mostly translated "earth" or "land" and sometimes "country" or "ground".

"Ehretz" never means planet Earth. Translators show they recognize this by using the lower case "e" for "earth" not upper case "E".

Whenever "ehretz" is mentioned in conjunction with the sea it is distinguished from the sea, and we get the phrase "the earth and the sea" or "the land and the sea". (Haggai 2:6)

Similar comment applies to the other Hebrew word translated "earth", "land" or "ground" which is "adamah" which occurs about 250 times.

Today when we talk of planet Earth we include the seas because seas and oceans are part of the planet. If however we talk about "land" we would generally exclude from the meaning of "land" any oceans that lie around the land and possibly seas located on the land. After the invention of telescopes people began to realize that the surface of the Moon and Mars consists of land or, using the Hebrew word, "ehretz"

The Australian
reported that NASA's Kepler space telescope, launched in 2009 to search for planets outside our Solar System, is discovering thousands. The article says: "In January, astronomers using the Kepler telescope said the Milky Way contained at least 17 billion planets the size of Earth…" (November 1, 2013, p. 3)

With an estimated 17 billion in just one galaxy, we can conclude there is land throughout the Universe — land included in the word "ehretz".

Genesis 1:28 says:
God blessed them, and God said, "Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth [ehretz] and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth [ehretz]."
Much of the Bible takes on greater meaning and significance as scientific knowledge increases. Christians appreciated God's "greatness" as creator in an enhanced way when science expanded our horizons from seeing about 2000 stars, to one galaxy with billions of stars, to billions of galaxies, and in future possibly a "Multiverse".

The command to "subdue the earth and have dominion" could similarly be extended and expanded to land on other planets. Human "dominion" would then include all the living things that humans might eventually introduce on other planets.

In Genesis 11 humans wanted to reach the sky by building a huge tower to which the Bible says God responded:
And the LORD said, "Look they are one people, and they have all one language; and this is only the beginning of what they will do; nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them." (11:6)
Today we have a situation similar to the Tower of Babel in that almost all humankind can communicate via one language or several languages. Computerized translating is also available and getting better. And "globalization" seems to be directing the whole world toward again becoming "one people".

This suggests that, "nothing that humans propose to do will now be impossible for them."

Even heading for the stars will be "only the beginning of what they will do."


THOUGHOUT THE WORLD

Jesus said: "And this good news of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the world, as a testimony to all the nations; and then the end will come."
 (Matthew 24:14)

The word "world" is from the Greek "oikoumenee" which refers to the inhabited earth, i.e. the land inhabited by human societies.

Therefore, if humans colonize Mars prior to what Jesus called "the end" then the "gospel of the kingdom" will be proclaimed on Mars.



CONCLUSIONS

Proclamation of the Gospel on Mars could initially be via electronic transmissions from Earth.

Eventually a Church able to afford $hundreds-of-millions for a ticket, space suits and accommodation could send a missionary to organize a congregation.
If colonization extends to the Moon and planets prior to "the end" it may require a rethink of some biblical doctrines. The Moon and other planets are, from our viewpoint on Earth, in what the Bible calls "the heavens". But from the other planetary viewpoint it is Earth that is in "the heavens". Theologians and sectarian debaters might have to reconsider where Christ's second coming will take place; what is meant when people pray "Our father who is in heaven…"; and the location of the resurrection to eternal life, whether on earth or in heaven or both.


REFERENCES:

Earth-sized exoplanet gives hope for habitation, The Australian, November 1, 2013, p. 3

Henbest, N. Life on Mars, New Scientist, 13 July, 2013, pp 43-45

NRSV Reference Bible
1988 Zondervan Publishing House

The Weekend Australian
, January 4-5, 2014, p. 8




MARS

(Investigator 166, 2016 January)


In #156 I discussed whether the Bible allows for people going to Mars and whether the Gospel will be preached on Mars.

I think Buzz Aldrin the second man to walk on the Moon during the Apollo 11 mission in July 1969 would agree with much of what I wrote.

The Weekend Australian
(October 31-November 1, 2015, p. 22) reported: “Aldrin does not believe we should return to the Moon. His sights are set on a US-led permanent human presence on Mars by 2035... He set out a detailed plan in his book, Mission to Mars (2013).” 

Aldrin is a Christian, and the news report quotes him: “I asked the preacher in my church, the Presbyterian Church, for permission to serve myself communion on the surface of the moon.

“I was cautioned not to say anything about that because it might embarrass NASA. So it was not until many years later that it was made public.” (ibid)

Anonymous


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