Yes, folks, it had to happen sooner or later. Water has been found on the red planet, Mars. Initially this might not seem such a big thing, but it means that, at some point, water in it’s fluid form may have been found in abundance on the surface, which means that there is the possibility that life happened on Mars.
Not complex life, perhaps, as we know it, but small bacterial life, small single cell, or simple multi-cell organisms.
This has a huge impact on theology. Starting with the fact that we are not, then, the only living part of God’s creation. We are simple part of the multi-faceted universe that God made.
This then asks the question : “What makes us so special?”.
God chose us to be his people.
Is that because on other planets there are no people, and on them he chose the Cephlapods to be his.. erm.. .Cephlapods?
This could even imply that there is a Cephlapod saviour. Perhaps one that went through a similar, culturally-based death-and-resurrection in order to show them that God loves the Cephlapods, too.
The question will come about, of course, if they have no similar mythos. It is likely that alien mythos will be alien. It will have very few culturally cross-referential ideas. That would be the point. The joy of it, of course, is that it means that God works in all kinds of ways.
The other problem is, of course, with the way in which some people view the creation narrative in Genesis. For those of us that have a more open view, that it is simply an analogy, an allegory of God’s love for his creation despite our inability to follow simple and obvious instructions it’s not such a problem. For those that cling to the idea that Genesis is the way things are made, this can begin to get uncomfortable. It doesn’t mention anything about God creating life on Mars when he got bored sometime on the 6th day.
Whatever approach is taken to explain how life got on Mars, it involves stepping outside of the literal narrative. My worry is for those people who have become more literal in their approach to the bible as a form of a defense of their faith, running from the scary and complicated world of Science, this will mean that more people will face the uncomfortable place of cogantive dissonance, or loss of faith.
Faith does not need to be so tightly tied to the book. Christ himself wasn’t tied to the Old Testament in that way. St. Paul didn’t come to give us dictates, himself having a problem with the legalistic aspects o the law.
With this new discovery, it seems to me that we are looking at another theological paradigm shift. One that perhaps we need to be a bit more pragmatic in approaching.