Finding Life on Mars Might Change Christians' Perception of God, Vatican Astronomer Says About NASA Discovery

Dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks on Mars inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water are seen in an image produced by NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona.
Dark, narrow, 100 meter-long streaks on Mars inferred to have been formed by contemporary flowing water are seen in an image produced by NASA, the Jet Propulsion Laboratory and the University of Arizona. | (Photo: Reuters/NASA/JPL/University of Arizona/Handout)

Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, has commented on the recent NASA discovery that suggests there might be flowing water on Mars, by stating that finding alien life could paint a different picture to who God is for Christians.

"The important thing is to recognize that the universe is created by God, and however God did it tells us something about God's personality," Consolmagno said, according to Vatican Radio.

"If God chose to make a universe where we are the only creatures, that is interesting, that tells us something about God and us," he added.

"If God creates a universe where life is everywhere, that gives us a different picture of God, but in either way, we learn more about Who the Creator is."

NASA reported earlier this week that there are long dark streaks presumably created by liquid water that are running down craters and canyon walls during the summer months on Mars. The discovery creates fresh hope for finding life on Mars, since liquid water is an element vital for life.

The Curiosity rover on Mars had in the past found evidence of age-old lakes and river networks, but the newly discovered recurring slope lineae suggest there is running water at least for part of the year.

Consolmagno, who often comments on NASA developments and the prospects of alien life, said that finding water flowing in real time is exciting.

"You can see the traces of the rivers changing over the course of a martian year. So we are not talking about water that was there a long time ago or water that is frozen under the surface, but actual liquid water on the surface," the Vatican astronomer said.

"Of course, the air is so thin that it will evaporate right away, but it is enough water in there long enough to move stuff around."

Consolmagno added that it's hard to speculate on the possibility of alien life elsewhere in the universe, since humans only know how it exists on Earth.

"We have no idea whether life is so rare that it never occurs anywhere, or so common that is occurs everywhere, and that's why we have to look at places life could be to see just how rare or how common it actually is," he added.

Notable Evangelical figures such as Russell Moore, president of the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, have also spoken out on the Mars discovery.

"Perhaps for many of us, the images and descriptions of environments literally years away from Earth might cause a little anxiety. What all is out there? How much of it? If our little galaxy is just a pin-point in a vast, swirling universe, then why would we think that what happens on this microscopic rock matters all that much? In the sweep of cosmic space, why would your life and my life have much purpose at all?" Moore wrote in a blog post on Tuesday titled "Mars and the Majesty of Christ."

Moore adds that while secular scientists have attempted to answer such questions in their own way, the Gospel is what provides people with real direction.

"The universe is meant to make us feel small, to stand in silenced awe. The Gospel, though, tells us that we have purpose and meaning, not by our strength or our power, but because we're hidden in the One who was dead, and is now alive forever, the One for whom every galaxy, seen and unseen, was made as an inheritance," he wrote.

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