Paul Berry (02/18/04)
Throughout the discussion yesterday I feel that I gathered a great deal of cultural and personal experience in the form of sharing ideas and religious beliefs. Although a devout Catholic, I still think it is important that we celebrate diversity culturally and religiously, and not persecute the religious beliefs of others that the Catholic church has been so infamous for in the last few centuries (but not so much recently). I must admit that I am partial in siding with Christian values, but cannot help see that people of all religions are struggling with the same thoughts, fears, and ideas about life elsewhere, that up until recently has been more of a distant future concern. Sharing these ideas helped me to understand this, as well as how people felt before the 20th century.
The cultural life of the times was obviously different from the life that we know today. I attribute this mostly to the creative imaginations of the people speculating about the Red planet in an environment that lacks the scientific prowess that we have the advantage of today. I think that because the people in the preceding century lacked the availability of our technology, they became creative, knowing that no one could refute their ideas, or that they put creative spins on what may or may not have been there (like Percival Lowell with his canals, who emphatically asserted that because he was located in Arizona he had more advantageous viewing and was the only person able to see the canals).
I hate to be single-minded on the religious issue, but the discussion with Ms. Cooper-Nelson had no affects on my views religiously. I maintained my beliefs after the discussion, and will continue to maintain them until the Catholic church says that God said otherwise. Even if advanced life was found elsewhere, I can't help but stand by the explanation that God didn't say that there weren't other life forms, so we can't rule out the possibility of their existence.As for the future, I think that we will eventually send humans to Mars, naturally with setbacks, failures and a lot of hard work. Of course we can only speculate on the ways that we will get there, but I doubt that the creativity of NASA will lose strength over the years, especially with the recent spark in interest that the world as a whole has had for the Red planet. I feel that this spark can only grow as we succeed in future missions, and as we develop a sense of human space survival on the ISS.