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September 16, 2012

Question:  Will your faith be affected if NASA’s Curiosity rover finds there is or was life on Mars?

The question contains a doubtful premise. It assumes a very narrow definition of life. In fact, there is already life on Mars and always has been life on Mars, although its form may have changed over geologic time. Everything that exists, even at the most basic of mineral or sub-mineral level, is living. Within the atom, physicists witness a flurry of nuclear activity. The minerals that exist on Mars, whatever their composition ultimately turns out be, show cohesive atomic affinity; outwardly inert, yet demonstrating existence (life) at its most basic or rudimentary form.

My own reflections, after having looked at the amazingly clear pictures of the stark and inhospitable surface of Mars, include my gratitude to be living on our beautiful blue and white planet, even though it is experiencing, on all fronts, a very intense and world-shaking crisis of civilization. The marvellous life form that we should most cherish, we already have here on earth. It’s the human being. Homo sapiens possesses a rational and immortal soul, with its several distinctive and unique properties of memory, imagination, intuition, language, understanding, the capacity for faith, etc.

Any admiration we may have for our own species, I should add, is merited especially when we behave as noble, ethical, spiritual beings. Humans are still plagued by our dual nature. We create marvellous works of invention and discovery when we exercise the qualities of the higher self, but we wreak evil and destruction, when we follow the promptings of our base nature.

Religion and spirituality incessantly call the individual to fulfil her great spiritual potential, the unfinished work of a lifetime: “O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty? Noble I made thee, wherewith dost thou abase thyself? Out of the essence of knowledge I gave thee being, why seekest thou enlightenment from anyone beside Me? Out of the clay of love I moulded thee, how dost thou busy thyself with another? Turn thy sight unto thyself, that thou mayest find Me standing within thee, mighty, powerful and self-subsisting.” (Bahá’u’lláh, The Hidden Words)  
-  Jack McLean

Printed in the The Ottawa Citizen September 16, 2012
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