Geo016 - Exploration of Mars

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Geo016 / Exploration of Mars / (M) 3:00-5:20 / Lincoln Field 105 / Prof. James Head

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Boyoun Choi (02/18/04)

Before this week's class, I was not expecting to get much from our discussion

with the Chaplain. I just thought it to be a typical debate on the controversy between science and religion. Officially, I'm catholic, but I used to go to Protestant church in high school, so I can't really say I'm a faithful believer. However, I still remember a debate from my small Christian gathering a few years ago about the credibility of Bible. The pastor discussing with us was quite vehement to teach us about the uncertainty of the evolution theory, or of science in general. From then on, my perspective towards theology became a little negative.

Unlike what the pastor at that time was arguing, I personally believe that there are a lot of similarities between science and religion, and neither one of them can completely ignore the other. For example, as Chaplain Janet Cooper-Nelson said, there are so many ways to interpret the Bible or any religious texts that it could be wrong to judge the meaning in a certain way. When I asked my father, a dentist who studied theology in graduate school a couple years ago, about how I should understand the first chapter of the Bible and at the same time accept the evolution theory, he told me a similar thing I heard from the Chaplain. It all depends on how I look at it, so I could understand the creation of God as the formation of life in the universe, and “one day” in Bible could also be something like a billion years.

Being open-minded to these controversial issues, I was worried about this discussion. What if she is like the pastor I talked to? What if she tries to enforce her narrow perspective about religion and science to us? But they turned out to be my stupid anxiety. I was surprised to hear the Chaplain say she would rather be excited if we do find some form of life elsewhere in the universe than be threatened or worried about the consequences. Most people in the class said there is no reason to be threatened by the discovery of other species or superior creatures, but if that actually happens – maybe not on Mars but later somewhere else – I feel I might be scared to some degree, and I can see some people panicking and trying to find reasons for justifying human specialness. I don't believe that we are the most developed and intelligent beings, but it might take a long period of time after discovering life elsewhere, for all of us on earth to get rid of the notion that we are at the center of cosmos.



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