The Gospel on Mars

Does God want humans to go to Mars?

Serious question… sort of. But it’s possibly going to make my atheist readers’ heads spin off, because these are actual discussions Christians sometimes have.

I read a news story recently about some of the folks volunteering for the Mars mission. One is an Army 1st Lieutenant, and–being in the military–this caught my attention. Another is this fantastic article about the man behind SpaceX, Elon Musk and his vision for the future of space exploration. (Warning to my more sensitive readers: there’s strong language right off the bat.)

I mentioned the Army lieutenant and the Mars mission to a Christian friend, and was surprised by their off-the-cuff response.

“I don’t think that’s right. I don’t think we’re supposed to do that.”

I was shocked. I saw no issues with it. I was excited that it’s even a possibility. That humanity could take the first steps to go beyond this little ball of rock spinning around in the vast dark, and propel itself across the expanse to land on another spinning ball of rock in order to start the process of some day establishing human colonies on other planets, and to think I might see that happen in my lifetime? Amazing!

“Why not?” I asked.

“Jesus isn’t coming back to Mars. He’s coming back to Earth to reign for a thousand years.”

My evangelical Christian upbringing wanted to agree. <em>That’s true, that’s in Revelation. What do you think about that? Why</em> didn’t <em>you think about that?</em>

But of course I couldn’t let myself be wrong in any way.

“Is it really wrong to go to Mars? Is that even a topic the Bible attempts to address? No.”

I already knew the answer to my argument. There are a great many topics the Bible doesn’t specifically mention, yet we Christians take various principles and statements contained within, and figure out ways they might apply to those cases. Take the Christian concept of the Trinity: nowhere is that word found in Scripture, yet it’s a central tenet of the faith.

We went back and forth a bit. My friend thought 1) this was reaching beyond the scope of authority humanity has been given, 2) that the debate was fairly silly because there are resources and space aplenty as yet untapped on Earth, and 3) that the point is probably moot because it’s pretty clear from all the signs that the various prophecies of Scripture are coming true and the end is near.

I countered with some optimism both ‘rational’ and religious, like:
“think of what great technological advances the space program has brought about thus far,” and
“why did we explore Antarctica? God didn’t put people there either but we still went there to learn and discover more of the world around us,” and
“Imagine two astronauts on the surface of Mars, and one of them shares the Gospel with the other. Does it not have power to save because they’re not on Earth?”

Seems appropriate to this post.
Seems appropriate to this post.

But most of all, my defense comes down to one question, a question I realized I don’t think my friend is willing to consider.

“What if I’m wrong about this whole faith thing?”

We talked about the end times, but it struck me that Paul and others in Scripture wrote about the end times like they were already happening, like it would all be over in <em>their</em> lifetimes. I recall listening to Christians as I grew up, hearing their proclamations about the end, and thinking it would all be over before I became an adult.

(Ok, let’s be honest, I was afraid I’d never get married… because I was a teenage boy and I was afraid I’d never get to be with a girl. And while going to Heaven would have to be totally awesome, maybe God could hold off on the End of the World thing a little bit?)

Now, I think there are some interesting points about Scriptural prophecy. We’re living in the first time in human history where the Gospel could actually reach every people group on the Earth (Matthew 24 makes that out to be a requirement before the end comes). We’re living in the first time in human history when technology and economics make it feasible that some one-world government could mandate the use of a “mark” worldwide in order to have access to conduct business (Revelation 13 talks about the Mark of the Beast and what all that entails). We’re living in an age of “wars and rumors of wars” and natural disasters aplenty… and though it’s possible they seem to be increasing only because of worldwide 24-hour media coverage, it certainly feels like this world is going through the “birth pains” described by Christ in Matthew 24.

Yet here we still are. And it’s been 2000 years of Christians saying “the end is near.”

I’m not sure I can fault the skeptics for being a little skeptical.

Elon Musk makes the argument that for humanity to thrive, we can’t have all our eggs in one basket. He wants to make sure we get off this planet and start the process of reaching others. His view comes from reasoning about evolution and the risk of catastrophes on a planetary scale which could render this world devoid of life (or at least kill off the vast majority of living things and no doubt cripple or destroy civilization permanently).

While I have my faith, and I have personal experiences and I daresay <strong>reason</strong> backing my beliefs, I have to wonder.

Why wouldn’t humanity go to Mars? Why wouldn’t we reach for the stars? Why shouldn’t we work toward a better future for mankind in whatever time we have?

Because, well, what if I’m wrong?

Is that too serious a question to consider? Can that thought even occupy a corner of my faith-based brain without toppling the house of cards?

4 thoughts on “The Gospel on Mars”

  1. “…for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” – Joshua 1:9 Seems like that would apply to Mars, no?

    I’ve known Christians who thought Yoga and Tai Chi were products of the devil. My father doesn’t believe in cremation because God is supposed to restore our bodies at the end. He doesn’t think you should try to make it harder for him. I guess it’s not much of a stretch to think going to Mars is somehow bad.

    One of the reasons Christianity didn’t die out like so many other religions is it was not tied to a place, and only partially tied to a particular people. How ironic then that people might think it wouldn’t extend beyond Earth. TBH, Mars doesn’t need people like that. 🙂

  2. David,
    I love your blogs. Always thought provoking. I have 2 comments:
    1. I agree with you, the Bible never uses the word Trinity. But in Matt. 28:19 the disciples are told to baptize in the name of the Father, Son & Holy Spirit. That gives us a picture of the Trinity. Also, in Genesis 1:26 God said “Let Us make man in Our own image. The word for God is plural. Another picture to help us see God as more than a single entity.
    2. I understand why most Christians are sceptic all about the timing of Christ’s return. After all, every generation has the timing was now. I want to strongly recommend a book I am presently reading. It doesn’t claim when but shows what is actually happening that could make our generation the possible time. It is written by an exMuslim who sees scripture through Middle eastern eyes. It’s called God’s War on Terror. Islam, Prophecy & the Bible by Walid Shoebat. He has a daily website on FB too.
    These are exciting, terrible times we live in. My pastor once told us to plan, as if Jesus wasn’t coming soon, but to live as if He was.
    Blessings on you & Jamie as you continue to write. Karen

    1. I think your last point has a lot of wisdom. My faith reminds me that Jesus could show up at any time. But practical and wise living means making the most of the time until that time comes.
      Thanks for adding your thoughts to the post! Blessings on you as well.

  3. Hi there Sonworshiper. Thank you for accepting my request to follow. I am just beginning to read some of your stuff. I am looking forward to some interesting reads.
    Interesting discussion on the issue of Mars habitation, but one question grabs at me…”What if I’m wrong about this whole faith thing?” It was probably not the focus of your article, but just thought I would offer my thoughts.

    In my search for truth I have found, that as a believer, I must be fully persuaded that God is who He says He is, and that everything He told us in His word – is true.

    Being fully persuaded, I am more than confident that no man knows the hour of Jesus’ return. The Father and only the Father knows the time. And He has given us signs to watch for, signs that we have read about, signs that we are currently experiencing, but the hour has yet to arrive. There have been many eager self-proclaimed prophets which have been bold enough to claim to know the exact hour of our Savior’s return, much to the dismay of their followers, no doubt. We are still here though.
    The Word instructs us to be ready…ready to give an answer for our faith. “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear… (1Peter).
    We should be ready for his return, as it will happen in the twinkling of an eye. “Watch therefore, for you do not know what hour your Lord is coming. But know this, that if the master of the house had known what hour the thief would come, he would have watched and not allowed his house to be broken into. Therefore you also be ready, for the Son of Man is coming at an hour you do not expect (Mat 24).
    We are to watch the signs knowing that they will only get worse, but there is one definite sign that will be a sure sign that the end is near. “Therefore when you see the ‘abomination of desolation,’ spoken of by Daniel the prophet, standing in the holy place” (whoever reads, let him understand), “then let those who are in Judea flee to the mountains (Mat. 24).
    Now, being fully persuaded that God is who He says He is, the Creator of all things…including other planetary systems…He was in the beginning and He created the heavens. So, if in waiting for Jesus to return, man’s knowledge blossoms to the point of setting up life on another planet it would make complete sense that God would be in control even on Mars. And that the gospel would be preached to the outer limits. I personally find space travel, and inhabiting other planets exciting. I always say there are only two ways of this planet…death and via a space ship.
    Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; If I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there (Ps. 139).
    But those who wait on the Lord Shall renew their strength; They shall mount up with wings like eagles,
    They shall run and not be weary, They shall walk and not faint (Is.40).
    So even as we wait on God…we have instructions on what to do while we wait.

    Space travel is not beyond God’s possibilities. However, because we don’t know the hour…it is also a possibility that relocation to Mars may not happen for the body of Christ. Revelation tells us that the New Jerusalem will be on Earth as it will descend from the heavens, so Earth is it. This is God’s planet for mankind.

    The question that I ponder …”What if the gospel has been preached to the ends of the Earth? Technology has made it possible to reach out and touch someone like never before in the history of mankind. Mat 24 then… takes on a bit more urgency. I wonder if God is giving His children time to get ready.
    Just questions I ponder. Be Blessed.

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