Possible life on Mars raises theological implications
August 7, 1996
Web posted at: 9:45 p.m. EDT
WASHINGTON (CNN) -- A humbling possibility.
That's the way some officials in the country's religious
communities are describing NASA's recent discovery.
Theologians say the possibility that life exists on Mars
moves beyond an "anthropocentric worldview" -- one that
places humankind at the center of the universe.
The current developments, if substantiated, will not unravel
traditional biblical convictions, but rather provide an
opportunity to enlarge or broaden them, says Professor
Anthony Tambasco of Georgetown University.
But the findings may rattle fundamentalist claims that assert
life literally originated as recounted in the Bible's book of
"It certainly moves us, in one more way, beyond the
claims of fundamentalists," said Tambasco.
On the other hand, the Vatican has its own observatory at the
University of Arizona in Tucson and is said to have teamed up
with NASA on occasion.
Most Muslims would also welcome the discovery of life off of
Earth, according to Sayyid Syeed of the Islamic Society of
Syeed says the Koran refers to Allah as the God of "worlds,"
not just one world. He adds that the Koran says God created
the universe for man to explore and discover.
The Koran, according to Syeed, gives man a specific mission
on Earth, which does not preclude God's giving other life
forms a mission on other planets.
Rabbi James Ruden of the American Jewish Committee says
NASA's findings can only be "celebrated." Ruden says most
Jews' interpretation of Genesis leaves open the possibility
of life on other planets. If the findings become conclusive,
Ruden feels it would be more evidence of the power of God.
A group that supports the teaching of "Creation Science" says
the NASA discoveries pose no real threat to their theories.
Bill Hoesch of the Institute for Creation Research calls
Wednesday's announcement "99% hype and 1% fact."
Many questions remain to be asked before any conclusions are
drawn, says Hoesch, adding that it's too early for the public
to get excited at this point.
© 1996 Cable News Network, Inc.
All Rights Reserved.