1. Galadriel says:

    I’m not sure if I like the ideas of a Mars mission–I’d rather keep my imagination about Mars then see what it’s really like…

  2. Perhaps, because we already know so much about what Mars is like — and unlike previous imaginations of it being a canal-ridden wonderland — our imaginations would simply be changed after a manned mission. We could either:

    1. Alter imaginations about Mars based on what we now know, going deeper into more-challenging yet updated stories about ways the planet could be explored or colonized in the future.

    2. Imagine alternate-universe versions of Mars, supposing the planet really were still wet and fertile, and populated with sentient alien creatures.

  3. A recent and related editorial cartoon that makes me sad:


    By the way, to me it seems interesting that for all their talk about being Pro-Science, it was a certain current administration that announced pulling back on the space program and especially manned space exploration. Meanwhile, it was supposed anti-science president “Shrub” who found time in 2004, even during the War on “Terror,” to announce new space-exploration measures, including the space shuttle program’s high-tech successor — which are now pretty much forgotten. Instead we’ve heard how NASA’s main goals are climate science and reaching out to religious groups. Hmm. How interesting that this branch of science has become so inward-focused and selfish.

    Christians need to take the lead in pushing for glorifying God through science and space exploration. That can include those of us who believe Mars is 4.5 billion years old or only a few thousand — either way, we have frontiers to explore for God’s glory!

    Alas, I fear it will only be on the New Earth that this effort truly leaps forward. Yet I’ve personally found that this has led to at least one fantastic novel including that theme.

  4. Ralene says:

    I can’t wait until it comes out as an e-book. I’m so getting it!

  5. Morgan Busse says:

    That is an amazing amount of research you did for Oxygen (I had no idea). Some interesting ideas for why we should go to Mars. Personally, I have a fear of heights, so I’ll be staying here on Earth when it happens, thank you very much 🙂

  6. Kaci Hill says:

    The book was great, so everyone knows. I still need to read The Fifth Man. 0=)
    I personally think the universe exists for us as a bit of a playground. We have more Scriptural foundation in favor of continued exploration and subjugation of the universe than  disfavor.  I mean, I get it: on the pragmatic end there’s more immediate things that need taking care of. But curiosity is an inherent part of us, and continuously finding new things and naming them is as old as Adam. It’s…who we are.

  7. Galadriel says:

    See, I prefer to think of Malacandra and Perelandra or even the dark oblisk from 2001: A Space Odyssey than Mars and Venus.

    • Yet when Lewis wrote Malacandra, that was before the first Mars probes but after most were sure Mars wasn’t the kind of world he described, am I right? Perhaps Randy, if he’s around and watching ussss, could share some thoughts. Either way I’m convinced we can still make fantasy stories about Mars, in a parallel-world sort of way — exactly as I think today of the Space Trilogy versions of other planets.

  8. Steve Taylor says:

    Interesting article. I loved Oxygen and The Fifth Man. However it saddens me that I have to rip so many pages out of God’s Word – the six days of creation
    (including all the creation Scriptures, even Jesus own words)  and the genealogy of Adam to Jesus. Should I also remove where the Scripture talks about heaven and hell or God’s wrath and judgment or maybe the miracles like parting of the Red Sea or Jesus raising Lazarus from the grave? I’m sure secular scientists don’t believe any of those things either. 

    Sad. Really sad.
    And we wonder why the church is such bad shape.

  9. Eric Wilson says:

    I loved “Oxygen.” Great book. And I’m not even much of a sci-fi fan.
    I see no reason to doubt the possibility of life other than our own. We serve a Creator who is infinitely imaginative and active. The Bible is the story of our world, our planet, our fall and redemption. Perhaps we really are “the silent planet,” as C.S. Lewis put it, cut off from others by our sin.

  10. Will hope to have some thoughts about Oxygen and Biblical creation tomorrow.

    In short: we need not divide from Christian brothers over the issue, but I think each “side” should feel the freedom both to a) treat origins accounts as the fair territory of Biblical historians, and not only origins scientists’, to offer beliefs about, b) speak frankly, yet in love, about how a Christian brother/sister has, in one’s view, erred in both Biblical exegesis and with understandings of actual, operational science.

  11. I’ve had some tough deadlines the last few days, but have finally made it back here to read comments. 

    On the question of whether one has to rip out any pages of the Bible in order to be a good scientist, I would like to refer you to John Walton’s book, THE LOST WORLD OF GENESIS ONE.  

    Walton is a professor at Wheaton College and believes in Biblical inerrancy. The conclusion of his book is that Genesis 1 has nothing to say on the question of the age of the universe, the age of the earth, or even on Darwinism. These questions have to be answered using science, not by a 20th century reading of a text written for a different culture.

    I won’t argue this one way or the other, since I’m not a Biblical scholar. But I think an educated Christian these days should be aware of Walton’s book, which has been well-received by reviewers qualified to judge his scholarship.

    I realize that Walton’s conclusions don’t make everybody happy. But in my view, Walton’s book is going to reduce the internal tension that a lot of working scientist-Christians feel when they are told by well-meaning people that their faith and their science are necessarily in conflict. This simply isn’t true.

  12. Kaci says:

    Well, as far as the creation/evolution thing goes,  I’ve read Oxygen and don’t recall it ever requiring one position or the other, much less “throwing out the Bible.” That’s a high charge simply unfair and unwarranted in this particular instance.

  13. I guess I wonder how come this field, of origins worldview, ought to be limited only to scientists — who are perhaps delving into less-scientific territory anyway by venturing to guess about unobservable, untestable worldviews about the past, which as their basis (presupposition) rule out God as an active element of their explorations (naturalism).

    Here’s theologian Dr. Terry Mortenson, who likely knows more Hebrew and Original Audience Context than all of us, on the Genesis-interpretation issues.

    It’s a long article, but I’ve really appreciated its insight — and also its complete lack of over-reactionary “they’re all false teachers and heretics” attitudes. I have seen those, most recently voiced against Tim Keller, a Godly and Gospel-centered teacher who I truly respect and whose work has helped me. But one careful critic noted, the issue is not really about whether one is truly saved (and his organization often gets wrongly maligned as believing that one must accept six-day creation to be a true Christian). Rather it’s about whether we’re consistent: is Scripture trustworthy and authoritative?

    Yet I understand that many Christians believe it  is authoritative, but also have varying views on Genesis. (That’s likely because of the fact that Christians have forsaken science for too long and are only just now catching up, and that part is our problem, not the Evil Bad Evolutionary Godless Atheistic Scientists’ problem.)

    But I’m with Kaci: one doesn’t need to get into that to enjoy the Oxygen series anyway.

    In fact, I recall being challenged by several tenets of the novels that originally made me squeamish, as a too-up-tight evangelical-homeschool nerd. 😀 Those parts shouldn’t have brought that reaction, even though I loved the story. By those parts I mean:

    • In the original Oxygen, Christian protestors are shown waving signs about how the Mars mission is useless. I knew that I wouldn’t be doing that — after all, if I opposed space travel, I wouldn’t be reading this amazing novel!

    Yet since then I came to see more closely that some Christians, despite their true faith and desire to please God and be Biblical, really do misunderstand how God is working to redeem all of His creation, starting today, not just the “spiritual” parts. That includes science and space exploration. (Author Randy Alcorn in his nonfiction book Heaven, which I plug way too much on this site, really helped solidify this for me. By the way, just the other day I saw that Alcorn had endorsed The Fift Man for its first printing — a fact that somehow escaped me before.)

    • In The Fifth Man, I originally balked at the idea of extraterrestrial life altogether.

    However, even more quickly I accepted this push of my imagination, which was not against Scripture, but against wrong assumptions of where God could have created life. To think that Mars could have had microbial life, or even plants, at some point doesn’t wreck the Gospel or the Earth’s centrality in His revealed plan.

    (Sentient, human-like intelligent life, though, that’s a different matter. …)

    Anyway, my conclusion: Biblical-creation-believers really ought to be pushing to have a manned mission to Mars just as much as the humanists and evolution-driven scientists are. In fact, with goals of glorifying God by exploring His creation, even in a fallen world, Christians ought to be more eager to encourage this. We don’t even need to worry about the Life question, as others do; shouldn’t it be enough to go there?

    Yet as I’ve said, it sadly may not be until the New Earth that we explore that far.

    A more-personal note: Randy, it’s great to see you here! I’d like to think, anyway, that I’ve loved your work before it was cool to do so, before you became more popular due to the Snowflake Method and your courses at conferences. It was also you who encouraged me to try ACFW, where I met Stuart Stockton, Becky Miller and many others, and thereby got involved with Speculative Faith’s first incarnation. Four years later I was privileged to help reboot the site, and a year later we’re fledgling once again.

    For your role behind the scenes, I not only withdraw “the scenes” here to reveal your identify, but award you 100 internets and a free pass to future Spec-Faith columns. 😀

    (More nonfiction-leaning thoughts on the creation-criticism issue in the below link. …)

What do you think?