Frank Crespo (02/11/04)
Our first class discussion was quite enthralling. The major themes discussed in class were:
-The history of exploration (from pre-telescopic to the present spacecraft era)
-The superiority complex of mankind
-Checks on vitalism such as the conversion from inorganic compounds to organic compounds.
-Religious perspectives of life on Mars
-Scientific bias (from stubborn scientists who continue to claim that life exists elsewhere, to Arizona's influence on Percival Lowell's drawings of Mars)
-Why explore Mars when the depths of the ocean remain mysterious?
-The convergence between religion and science
-Religious thought vs. religious organization
I believe that the theme of life on Mars was implicit throughout the discussion. Both religious and scientific points seemed to be in favor of finding life on Mars. Before class, I never thought that the integration of science and religion was possible. From the discussion, I realized that both science and religion seem to be converging, How? They are both searching for the absolute meaning of existence as well as the role humans play in the universe.
My stance on this issue is simple. Finding life elsewhere can only strengthen religion and the belief of creationism. Finding species on another planet that have distinctive characteristics might falsify Darwin's theory of evolution. Why? Well, it will show that living organisms do not all descend from a common ancestor. However, if the organisms share similarities to species on earth, then Darwin's theory of natural selection will be enforced.
Professor Putnam's visit to class was exciting. I was amazed that he was co-owner of the Lowell observatory. I thought it was funny how Pluto was named after his father. What are the odds? His summary of Lowell's life allowed me to view him in a more holistic manner (i.e., I saw the person behind the scientist). When Putnam claimed that Lowell had his own portable lab I was surprised. I would have loved to be in Lowell's shoes. A concept Putnam brought up was odium academium, which is jealousy in the academic field. I use to believe that academicians where all united towards a common goal, but popularization of science seems to propagate jealously.
Orson Welles' “The War of the Worlds” proved to be anachronistic. I thought that its relevance to modern day society was meager. The narrators voice seemed to lack believability. Perhaps my view on this is as a result of modernization.
In future discussions I would like to learn more about the social implications of exploration on Mars, other than religious. I feel that we dwelled too much on the religious aspect. Also, I think that the discussions need a bit more order. Students in class seem to jump from one topic to another without reaching common ground. Moreover, discussing more than one topic may allow other students in the class to participate, thus eliminating one-sided arguments.