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Mars and the Two Churches of Life

There’s a hell of a nice universe next door. Let’s go.”

For the first time in decades, the realistic possibility of going to Mars has been brought forward and placed on the table for discussion and debate. I’ve been carrying on a conversation with a friend over the past few weeks about the immediate and future ramifications of mankind expanding beyond the moon to the planets… and then on.  Central to this discussion and all our spacefaring is the question: Is this a universe where Intelligent Life Is Everywhere (ILIE) or are we alone in the cold infinities? 

That question came to mind this morning when an email from the friend mentioned above said:

….if, indeed, life and intelligent life is as prevalent as we think it should be, why aren’t we (a) intercepting millions of alien broadcasts in the electromagnetic spectrum, and (b) positively inundated with alien landings?

One reason that is disturbing in a deep way is that we’re all wrong, and we’re all alone… What if, in all those billions of galaxies, we’re it. Gives me the shivers.

….Look at us, mankind. We’ve been given the gift of intelligence, and the ability to expand our ecosystem out into space, where, with some significant but not insurmountable effort, we could spread like a proverbial virus.

All we need do is figure out how to make an Ezekial’s wheel within a wheel to take us away to the middle of the air.

Still I suspect that we are, indeed, alone. Or, if not exactly alone, alone enough that it makes no practical difference.

Many years ago I read a  stirring and beautiful book by Guy Murchie called The Seven Mysteries of Life. It is a complicated bit of scientific romanticism and I won’t go into it here in detail. Besides I’m sure if I re-read it now it would seem antiquated, even quaint. But at some point in that book, Murchie began to take on the equation (Googlenumberofstars- XBadforintelligentlife stars=X Stars Supporting IntelligentLife) that forms the foundation for the Just One World of Intelligent Life (JOWOIL) Religion. A similar declension is known as The Fermi paradox. An argument encapsulated in Enrico Fermi’s famous question“Where is every­body?”

This Goldilocks style of argument removes stars from the board of intelligent life for being in too close to the center of galaxies, being multiple, being too big, too small, too young, too old, etcetera, etcetera, and turtles all the way down. This gets you a much smaller number of stars with (we hope) planets galore and then, through the application of other elements in Fermi’s paradox that reduces that number over and over until you arrive at 1 — the single planet on which we have discovered (semi)intelligent life –Earth.

On the other hand, we have the presently-popular religion currently professed by hundreds of millions of secular souls, The universe is vast hence Intelligent Life Is Everywhere (ILIE). Believe!

They are both still religions and we are returned, just when we thought we’d escaped into the one true faith of Intelligent Life Is Everywhere (ILIE), back to a situation of dueling faiths each playing a slightly different tune even if the underlying harmonic blends. But let’s boost the All-Alone track for now and dampen the ILIE part of the mix. Let’s say that we are all alone and that Murchie’s argument is correct. After all, the All-Aloners do have a planet to stand on. The ILIEs need at least two planets showing intelligent life to be persuasive.

If we are alone and we are in the “a fluke of the universe, a glitch” category, then what we do will hardly matter to anything other than ourselves. Hence, we need to take responsibility for our actions as a race. Mars is the next baby step.

If we are all that is we need to keep going — if only from the imperative that life must keep going even if it is to no purpose other than simple reproduction. To achieve that with any certainty we have to create, it seems to me — as it does to, but not because of, Elon Musk — a second planet just as an insurance policy, a safe haven. This is, to my mind, the most cogent argument for Mars. Mars is a backup.

Of course, in technical terms, going to Mars in the near future with the technology on hand will probably be similar to launching balsa log rafts into the Pacific in the Kon Tiki era, but that doesn’t mean we won’t do it. (The only real limits to this are 1) the vehicles cost a lot more than balsa rafts and 2) a foolish contemporary desire on our part to make sure that everyone gets there safe and sound. (We’ll get over that in the manner of the early Portuguese explorers whose motto was, “It is important to travel. It is not important to live”.)  It’s important to recall that in the beginning of the Age of Discovery, we were using the cutting edge 15th century technology of navigation, cartography, and maritime technology embodied in the caravel. Implicit in caravel was the lunar lander, it just took centuries to build it. But we got there and to Tranquility Base by and by. Mars is just another further destination, a port of call.

In the Home and Alone theory of intelligent life in the universe, Mars is key. If we can get there and establish ourselves then we will have transformed humanity from Fluke to Seed. This is especially stimulating to the ILIE Religion because it will seem to be something we’ve done all by ourselves without any help from metaphysical realms… that pesky something named God. And keeping God out of the new SETI religion is essential. A continued state of “No God Nowhere” is more essential to ILIE believers than finding intelligent life elsewhere in the universe. Keeping God out preserves the ILIE religion as the one true faith of state-worship and any religion’s first imperative is that there can be only one.

I keep returning to the words God and Religion. The injection of these terms into a 21st-century discussion of things scientific always makes people very uncomfortable. Indeed, it makes me uncomfortable but that is just a post-mortem effect of that insidious state propaganda. Today, the ideological atmosphere of intellectual discussion has become so stultifying that one seems to have nothing to do with the other. Even though science originally derived from theologians and was the handmaiden of religion for centuries we did, at some time in the God-forsaken 20th century come to a tacit agreement to keep science and religion in separate spheres where,

Never the twain shall meet
Til Earth and Sky stand presently at God’s great Judgment Seat.

I am not a man of traditional religion. My church-going activities are sparse, to say the least. I’m what I call A Christian in Crisis Only. Make me fearful or make me terrified or make me hurt deeply on an emotional level, and you’ll find me on my knees praying in a church or even on a back lawn somewhere. Other times I go blithely about my business. But that’s not the state I’m talking about when I bring God into this discussion.

To my small mind, limited as it is, I’ve been noticing a tendency at the extreme reaches of physics and the observable universe to touch the metaphysical. This is the phenomenon that’s called A universe not only stranger than we imagine, but a universe stranger than we *can* imagine. Today the metaphysical heresy is found from string theory to the Webb telescope. The cathedral of physics/ astronomy/ biology/ mathematics has its high priests, and what they are preaching from their visions of the far edges of the microsphere and the macrosphere on a lot of levels boggles the minds of lesser mortals. But we take them on, well, faith.

Mine is a primitive little mind driven by poetry and romanticism with a veneer of pragmatism to get through the day. I tend to look at the whole of what is now known and know that right now all we can know for certain is just how deeply ignorant we are. We’ve advanced at a great rate, but all this advancement has only gotten us is a vague inkling of what there really is left to know, to discover. And because of this, I think — or rather I believe — that what the human race is about to become, in a way we are too ignorant now to know, is a seed.

If we are home alone then, if we have any purpose whatsoever, we are a means by which the universe can not only know and perceive itself but also a way of whipping up a hot-fudge sundae for itself. (Not so trivial as you may think.) We’re certainly a driven form of matter. You see that around you every day. And we are impatient beasts. We want the stars and we want them now.

We are born knowing how to pounce, but we have to learn patience. We are greedy obsessive animals who don’t understand the gap between desire and gratification, and that creates no end of trouble for us. We think we are doing so many things wrong because as moral beings we can see what is wrong with what we do. Guilty creatures, we seldom think of all the things we are doing right, not the least of which is taking only about a century (an inch of time) to get out of Earth’s gravity well.  It’s true that the furthest we have gotten is 13 billion miles, but it’s a start.

I guess I’ll have to take Pascal’s wager and go with God until there is evidence of absence. I’m on the side that believes we are here with some sort of purpose that we are not yet equipped to understand (Please recall that all we really are is a smart monkey.) Even though we don’t know why we do the things we do, but we will be driven outward, in time, until we do understand it. How, I do not know, but the hominid paddling a log across a river didn’t know about the International Space Station, did he?

Everybody needs something worthy of belief. I believe we have a purpose, and probably a purpose given to us by what I would call a God who sets things up and lets them roll. But for the rollout to work out, free will has to be in the mix. Otherwise, this one planet would be hip-deep in slime mold and that would be the end of the story. Since it isn’t, it comforts me to believe that we have greater ends in store for us and that, as a race, we will somehow make it through our current difficulties. Measured against the sweep of time and the universe, our present problems are quite trivial.

Remember that the moon is already part of our story, if only for a golf shot. Mars? That will be added to the story soon. Beyond that, I cant see, but I do like Our Story So Far even if I dislike many of the chapters.

I like stories that don’t let you know the ending. Mars is one of them. I’ll be gone into God’s greater mystery before this chapter ends and the next begins. I like to think at some point well be at the part of the story where somebody like Gully Foyle in Alfred Bester’s The Stars My Destination stands up in front of a crowd somewhere and rants at them, Blow yourselves to Christ gone or come and find me. I make you men. I make you great. I give you the stars!

Or, in perhaps a less dramatic way, somebody says: We are here. The stars are there. It is only a matter of going.

We’re either alone in the universe or part of a maddening crowd. Either way, man, you gotta go.

If we do not go to Mars we will be like dung beetles on the last bolus of shit in an endless lifeless desert.  We’ll cling harder and harder to the Earth, multiplying and strangling it. Resources that could go to expansion, instead go to more weapons to ensure that we have firm control over our little dung ball of nutrients, all the while depleting it and making it more uninhabitable. Unlike the dung beetles, there’s no elephant waiting around to drop us another one in the foreseeable future.

I think we’ve misinterpreted the slogan “Earth First.” Perhaps it really means “Earth’s the First stop of many on the line”.

Are we really alone? Will we, in the vernacular, blow it? I think the answer to the latter question is no. As for the former, well…

One of the many curses of free will is that it can remove, at will, God from the equation of the universe. But removing God does not remove the need to believe. The result is a host of secular faiths of which the assertion of Intelligent Life Is Everywhere (ILIE) is central to their catechisms.

No God means that Mind is God. No Soul means that Self is Soul. That is the religion that slaughtered 300 million souls in the last century and is winding up for round two in this one.  The Intelligent Life Is Everywhere (ILIE) religion is a losers’ choice that ends not in the stars but in the killing fields. The choice of God’s way is the choice that leads to Mars and beyond — as a seed.

Me? I’m going for the win but Who really knows?

God knows.

Wake me if we get a telegram from the Greater Magellanic Cloud.

Comments on this entry are closed.

  • Joe Krill October 17, 2021, 3:36 PM

    Gerard, Did you write this?

    • Vanderleun October 17, 2021, 4:20 PM


  • John the River October 17, 2021, 5:21 PM

    If we’re alone then it’s a hell of a waste of Space.

    But the riches of the universe are out there, which means someone will go and if they do well and survive then more will follow.
    Sadly it will be after my time.

  • Hale Adams October 17, 2021, 5:26 PM


    I remember reading somewhere (in connection with space exploration) that mankind has only two choices: expand outward to the stars, or retreat (over the course of many thousands or millions of years) into the primordial muck.

    The eco-doomsters peddle the notion that there is a third way — an eternal (so to speak) stasis, in which human progress is frozen at some convenient point, and the population stabilized at some suitable number, and nothing changes for ever and ever, the better to preserve and protect Great Mother Gaia.

    They forget the Second Law of Thermodynamics — in layman’s terms, the Universe tends to disorder. Also: where the First Law is essentially a restatement of the conservation of energy — you can’t get out of some physical process more than what you put into it; the best you can do is “break even” — the Second Law says that you can’t even “break even”: there are always losses of energy (friction, for example), or of material through leaks, or wear-and-tear, etc. In short, the contraption you build — whether it’s something as ordinary as a steam engine or some as complicated as a static, ideal society intended to last for all eternity — that contraption is going to eventually fail.

    A steam engine can be repaired – all it takes are the parts and labor needed to set it right. The eternal Gaia-worshiping society the eco-doomsters envision is not repairable, ultimately. Yes, it can be kept going through recycling for a time, but the process will have losses (see the Second Law of Thermodynamics) which will have to be made up from exploiting Earth’s resources. “But we’ll be using them at such a reduced rate!” the eco-doomsters cry. Well, yes, you morons, but they’re still FINITE, and will run out at some point maybe thousands of years from now. What then is there to prevent the generations that follow from falling back into a Stone Age existence (or worse) from which there is no recovery? (All the reasonably easy metals and other extractable resources are by that point GONE, and there’s nothing left to ignite and fuel another Industrial Revolution.)

    THAT **HORROR** is what the eco-doomsters would sentence humanity to — a long, slow slide into oblivion over the course of millions of years.

    Or we can go to the stars, and flourish there.

    We don’t even have to go that far, for the foreseeable future — the Solar System is vast, and has resources (metallic and organic) in mind-boggling quantities. For example, why dig enormous pits in the Earth in pursuit of some metal when a good-sized asteroid has what you’re looking for? Process the asteroid in space — harness the radiant power of the vast, unshielded fusion reactor we call “The Sun” to boil the rock, and then distill off what we need, or run the incandescent vapor through a scaled up ionizer and mass-spectrometer to sort out all the elements by the bucket-loads every second, and ship the output down to Earth via a Beanstalk. Doing things this way spares the Earth’s environment much damage — mining is probably our most-pollution activity, with mine-tailings exuding all sorts of “nasties”.

    “Beanstalk?” I hear you mutter. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Space_elevator <– a link to Wikipedia describing the beast. It's basically an elevator to space. For a long time, it was thought to be impossible to build, due to the material requirements. Making one of steel is theoretically possible, but the "taper-factor" forces the top of the Beanstalk to be many tens or hundreds of yards across just to put a square-inch of cable down on the Earth's surface. As a practical matter, that ain't happening. Fortunately the taper-factor is strongly dependent on the material's strength-to-weight ratio. Steel is strong, but it's also heavy. There are appearing now in laboratories materials that are very strong and very light, and would reduce the taper-factor to unity (that is, cable only as thick at the top as it is at the bottom). The problem is making them into cables, but we shall see.

    In the meantime, SpaceX is doing a bang-up job of making the cost to put a kilogram of mass into low Earth orbit ever cheaper. Put enough mass into low Earth orbit, and you can make the "seed" you wrote about, Gerard.

    Remember, in terms of velocity and momentum (the two key things for space-travel), low Earth orbit is halfway to anywhere in the Universe.

    My two cents' worth.

    Hale Adams
    Pikesville, People's still-mostly-Democratic Republic of Maryland

    • ghostsniper October 18, 2021, 9:14 AM

      Hale sed: “…but the process will have losses (see the Second Law of Thermodynamics) which will have to be made up from exploiting Earth’s resources…”
      Where do these losses go?
      Everything that was here from the beginning is still here and always will be, for it is a contained environment.

      Space is a vacuum, right?
      Does it act as a barrier to the earth environment, keeping it contained?
      Or does the vacuum absorb the earth environment. dissipating it over time?
      If so, how much time?
      Is there less earth environment now than say 1 billion years ago?

      I’ll suggest there is more earth environment now as there is constantly things like meteors and asteroids, things from the vacuum that have been added to the earth environment.

      Have you ever looked at algae under a microscope?
      Cool at first then quickly boring.
      Suppose the earth environment is like algae in the scale of universe time.
      Thus, advanced life is not interested in it.

      Humans tend to think of life beyond the earth environ as being the same or similar to life as portrayed as humans. That’s narrow, and weak. There could be other means of life right here on earth that humans are unable to perceive. Because we do not have any physical proof of what happaens to us after we leave this earthly realm we are left to wonder. I personally believe we don’t die but rather convert to another form of life, be that as it may. Yes, the physical body dies and goes back to the earth elements, but the essence of life, the spark inside all of us, lives forever and has always done so. Just as the sand on the beach and the lightning in the sky have been forever so is the essence of all life. When the sand erodes into the ocean or the lightning ceases to flash to they no longer exist?

  • Dirk October 17, 2021, 5:58 PM

    We’re not alone, awesome GV, I started the race here, intend to finish the race here on earth. exciting though!
    Shit politics, Politicians are everywhere. In fact I think the “lizard people” are running our world.

    I was wrong once, think I got this one nailed.


  • John Fisher October 17, 2021, 6:32 PM

    Thank you again for a marvelous and thought provoking piece of writing. I’m going to share the link so you may see some visitors that haven’t been here before.

  • Hale Adams October 17, 2021, 6:56 PM


    Could you please see if one of my rants is stuck in your bozo-filter?



    • Hale Adams October 18, 2021, 7:13 PM


      I see that you found it and un-stuck it.



  • John P Coggeshall October 17, 2021, 6:56 PM

    Ger…(if I can call you that)…thanks again, for a very thought-provoking post…

    Many people [apparently yourself included] neglect to think about: the Law of Large Numbers…

    There are approximately 1 billion stars in the Milky Way…maybe 2 0r 3 Bil. in M31…at LEAST 1 Bil. more galaxies [some bigger, some smaller] in the rest of the “known universe”…

    Okay…let’s say…1 bil. times (oh, say 2) bil…. 1×10{ninth} x2x10{ninth} = 2×10{18th}…

    That’s really a whole lot of stars…most of them VERY FAR AWAY…and you are getting impatient because they haven’t sent you an email?…

    Just hang on a little longer [This star has only been here for about 4×10{4th}…

  • RKV October 17, 2021, 7:33 PM

    “The Moon Is A Harsh Mistress” – and if we own the moon before we attempt Mars, we may succeed. If we don’t take it first, the nation that does own it, will control our access to space. Like it or not those are the physics. First things first. Beat the ChiComs to a permanent presence on the moon, so if they get stupid we can kill them. Sad to say, but I just do not trust them based on the way they treat their own.

  • gcordua October 17, 2021, 9:07 PM


    You say “One of the many curses of free will is that it can remove, at will, God from the equation of the universe. But removing God does not remove the need to believe.”

    I suggest we replace “remove” with “ignore.” G#d cannot be removed, but most certainly can be ignored.

    Best, as always, and Claire’s and my thanks to Emma Jean, for giving us a few more years of you,


  • Steve in PA (retired/recovering lawyer) October 18, 2021, 3:26 AM

    Wonderfully well composed, deeply thought provoking post today, Mr. Vanderleun. As for myself, I fall on the “We’re alone in the Universe” side of the debate. However, I find that ultimately to be a very comforting thought, inasmuch as I firmly believe we were, in fact, created by the Almighty as the Crown of His Creation. Instead of feeling like a meaningless speck in the vastness of the universe, it makes me feel rather special, like the only child of doting parents. (I believe we have become rather spoiled, however.) OF course, since I premise my opinion on the account of creation found in the Bible, I realize that the same Bible tells us quite clearly that there is an end to the story that may not square with the Star Trek version of things. I love science fiction as much as the next guy, but it is not called “fiction” for nothing. My money is on the climax and denouement of the story spun out in Revelation. Meanwhile, on the subject of Mars, I wonder if we might benefit during our brief hiatus between creation and the arrival of New Jerusalem to reflect on Lewis’ Space Trilogy, especially the goings-on described in the finale, “That Hideous Strength.” It seems that we are currently living under the ministrations of N.I.C.E., albeit under another name. I do hope that things work out for us as well or better than that, though, but am not optimistic.

  • Francis W. Porretto October 18, 2021, 3:43 AM

    Good stuff, Gerard. My own position is that regardless of whether Man is alone in the universe or just one of a number of intelligent species, we must go forward — outward. It might be the only avenue of long term racial survival, but what of that? It might make us incomparably richer, but that makes no difference either. We must go because it’s what we do. We’re hardwired to push outward, and to refuse to do so would require that we nullify our deepest impulses as a species.

    However, concerning the costs of interplanetary exploration and expansion…have you priced a balsa raft lately? (:-)

  • jd October 18, 2021, 6:43 AM

    Not only do you write beautifully, Gerard, but so intelligently and in
    such a way that those of us not so can understand and appreciate.
    You should be earning a living doing this so I think every reader
    who does not support you already should do something toward that
    end right now (before they forget). Certainly
    you provide as much intellectual stimulation (in many directions)
    as a cup of coffee, a movie or whatever else provides stimulation (good)
    these days.
    God bless you and your talent-fueled hard work.

  • CC October 18, 2021, 8:07 AM

    I’m thinking any life out there intelligent enough to have starships is going to avoid humankind like the plague.

  • Dank in Oregon October 18, 2021, 8:30 AM

    Excellent read, Gerard. Thanks for the Guy Murchie, reference. Read “Song of the Sky”, 50 some years back from my dad’s library. Going to read it again. Your good work here is much appreciated.

  • Ray Van Dune October 18, 2021, 8:32 AM

    The Fermi paradox (as stated today) is deeply flawed. As one-half of its parts says “… but we have never seen any evidence of extraterrestrial life”. Bull. To say that every one of the tens of thousands of reports of things that look like extraterrestrials and their ships is something else is absolutely jiggering the argument. The key words are EVERY ONE. Yes, there are hoaxes and optical illusions, but there are also so many startlingly detailed and extensive multi-witness encounters going back so far into history that to dismiss EVERY ONE of them as a misrepresentation is simply to make a mockery of the idea of a paradox.

    A few years ago, I read a book on Fermi’s paradox that spent 100% of its several hundred pages on exploring the ILIE part, but never challenged the EVERY ONE part. That is not an exposition of a paradox… that’s an exposition of a belief!

    By the way, this is nothing against Fermi, who was brilliant. I am just fed up with those who don’t realize that a paradox consists of TWO parts, and if you are uncritically accepting one of those parts, you are not doing the whole job, just fooling yourself.

  • Robert C Merriman October 18, 2021, 10:07 AM

    If we are the intelligent life in the universe, then we are it. There is nothing against which to measure what we have done, is there? Have we been good, bad, indifferent? Part of the time, all of those. But, we must dream. We must think. The two are the same. And, yes, there is a measuring scale. God made “of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation…” (Acts 17:26), but did he decree, “This far you may go and no farther”?

  • Gagdad Bob October 18, 2021, 10:14 AM

    If intelligent life is anywhere, it’s already everywhere. Or as Dávila says, “The distances of the physical universe are those of a prison.”

  • Ken S Berggren October 18, 2021, 10:50 AM

    The C. S. Lewis sci-fi trilogy has already been referenced. Here are a couple of poems which question the prudence of spreading seed out into space. It is what we have done, do, and almost certainly will do. It may not be very wise though.



  • James ONeil October 18, 2021, 11:04 AM

    In this age of ̶A̶q̶u̶a̶r̶i̶u̶s̶ ̶ Hysteria it’s doubtful that we’ll do more than dither, but voyaging to the far shores of the solar system, for a start, might just be the kick in the pants needed to shift us out of the doldrums.

    Nope can’t do it on a balsa log raft but on the other hand nope, won’t be throwing billions of bucks into space while, think of the children, starving on earth.

    Bucks tossed into space? A paltry (relatively) few dollars worth of steel, aluminum, tin ceramics, the billions would go into paychecks taken home here on earth, feeding the children, shoeing the wives, etc.

    It’s rumored that many of our beloved betters, tech lords, elites are constructing bunkers in New Zealand as apocalyptic safe havens.

    Perhaps they should consider they’d be far safer in O’Neill colonies far above the stratosphere, with atmosphere, gravity, etc. under their control. A micro-environment, temperature tempered, radiation shielded, gravity reduced, hey boss you just might live forever! Of course the infrastructure developed to space our elites could/would also be used to mine the asteroids, beam electric to earth, surf the solar system to Mars and beyond.

    I must admit, I find the idea of spacing George Soros brings a smile to my face,

  • Dan October 18, 2021, 11:07 AM

    Mars is no “backup” to Earth.
    Mean Surface Temperature: -82 degrees F.
    Atmosphere: 96% Carbon Dioxide
    Atmospheric Pressure: .088 psi (less than 1% Earth’s pressure of 14.7 psi)
    There’s no water.
    There’s essentially no oxygen nor air.
    You cannot light a fire.
    You cannot grow anything.
    Mars is not “habitable.”

    Before travelling to Mars to setup alternate housekeeping to Earth, try living — without outside supply — in Antarctica. I’ll throw in that on our South pole you have plenty of air and water ice. But try growing anything. Or lighting a fire — what would you gather to burn as fuel?

    After that, try building a large Biosphere in the Arizona desert that’s completely isolated from Earth’s atmosphere. It contains a greenhouse and water for growing plants and animals for food. Now insert eight humans and close the door. How long can you live inside that chamber — which, remember, is still on Earth?
    (Answer: two years before the oxygen runs out, CO2 rises and algae takes over — that hip-deep slime you mentioned.)

    I’ve visited the Biosphere 2. It exists, down near Tucson, AZ. https://biosphere2.org/ (Biosphere 1 is Earth, by the way.)
    First-person account: https://dartmouthalumnimagazine.com/articles/biosphere-2-what-really-happened

    The hubris of Man knows no bounds. We actually believe we can live and thrive as a civilization off this earth because, well, because we think we know better than the Creator God, Whom we — being materialists — deny even exists, though it is by Him that we live, and move and have our being.

    • James ONeil October 18, 2021, 11:39 AM

      Yep, our hubris knows no bounds. We otta go back to caves and stone tools, then all will be right, mate.

      • Dan October 18, 2021, 12:05 PM

        My argument is certainly not against exploration and discovery. Nor am I against technology and advancement of knowledge.

        I am questioning the assumption that Earth is finished as our home and we need a “backup” on Mars or some other planet to survive as a species.

        • ghostsniper October 18, 2021, 1:22 PM

          The earth was here before humans and it will be here after them.
          And if it’s not, well, the humans won’t be either.
          We’re all in it together and yes, it’s turtles all the way down.

  • Mike Austin October 18, 2021, 12:57 PM

    American Digest: Where poetry and prose meet romance and imagination. How many would give much to write as well as Gerard?

  • james wilson October 18, 2021, 2:32 PM

    Primordial life began on an inhospitable earth four billion years ago. We also have seen, if only from the Cambrian, how difficult it is to deny life even after it has been wiped out.
    Tubers a mile deep in the oceans demonstrate that there is plant life that does not even require photosynthesis. There will be life on Europa, or I should say in Europa.
    The amazing Tardigrade survives any environment, including the vacum of space. Perhaps life is more amazing and less special than we think it is. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tardigrade

    1% of infinity is infinity. .001% of infinity is infinity. There is infinite life in the universe.

    If from Voyager we were to watch a giant laser beam from earth to mars we would see that the speed of light is in fact incredibly slow. Quantum entanglement is beyond fast. For intersellar space travel to be a thing there must be impossible qualities in physics we do not yet know, which has always been the case.

    No, intelligent life is not sending radio messages announcing it’s existence. That is the interstellar equivilent of putting messages in a corked bottle.

  • Walter Sobchak October 18, 2021, 3:03 PM


  • jwm October 18, 2021, 4:49 PM

    Even if there is life on other words in the physical universe, would we be able to make contact, given the constraints of the physical universe, at least as we understand it? The divide between the possible, and the impossible gets fuzzy. John C. Wright, in his “Count to the Eschaton” series kept his science fiction epic within those constraints, that is, there was no faster than light travel. The result, of course, was interstellar flights that took thousands of years to complete. The ship’s crew, and their families back on the home planet, were kept in suspended animation for eons.
    No less implausible than FTL travel.
    It is, no doubt, within our capacity to build a machine, like Voyager, capable of traversing that kind of distance, and durable enough to last all the time it would take. In real time, here on earth, that spacecraft could have launched before the pyramids were built, and it would still be a long ways away from the nearest solar system.
    Even so, it’s just in our nature to find out the absolute limit of possibility, and to stretch far enough to touch it. More than that we cannot do.


  • Charley Hua Chu October 18, 2021, 8:05 PM

    I love this place on the internet. It grieves me that I mostly do not understand what the hell everyone is talking about but thrills me that Gerard can stir up a discussion that no-0ne else understands either.
    Would that I could write as well or think as deep . . . .

  • DeNihilist October 18, 2021, 11:10 PM

    What if, in reality, we are the first of all civilizations that inhabit the universe. That we are the most advanced civilization? That in a millennia, other alien species will be looking up at their sky and wondering “whom is this Lucy? Is she benevolent or is she malign? Will she come in peace or will she come to feast?”

    Why must there be “others” who are older and wiser? There must be a first, what if it is us?