Life Beyond Earth

One of the aims of the Mars mission mentioned in my previous post, is to seek out evidence of some kind of life on Mars.
Last year I posted thoughts about the implications of the search for life beyond earth.

https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2018/07/27/life-on-mars/

Within the comments section after that article I noted that any search for life elsewhere in space has already, most likely, been compromised by the many space craft and associated vehicles that mankind has already sent out there.

Can it be guaranteed that on all of that space-borne equipment not a single element of biological contamination has taken place? That every mission sent from various nations hasn’t transported a viable population of bacteria to the planets that were being explored?

No it can’t be guaranteed.

surevyor 3.jpgIn fact life has already been found on the moon, by the Apollo 12 mission. They retrieved equipment from the Surveyor 3 spacecraft that had previously landed on the moon. Upon that equipment they reportedly found biological contamination, the common bacterium Streptococcus mitis, possibly deposited by a technician sneezing on it during its preparation for launch.
Later assertions have been made that the contamination was caused during or after the return to earth – but could that be a case of attempting to convince the public that the stable door had remained securely closed, and that the bacterial horse had not actually bolted?

No matter how strenuous those assertions may be, it is clear that the possibility of contamination from earth remains a viable possibility.

…despite using plasma (matter composed of electrically charged particles), intense radiation and heat to sterilise the components, and using special “clean rooms” to assemble them, it has proved impossible to construct a microbe-free spacecraft. The heat, cold, vacuum and harsh radiation encountered during spaceflight will kill most of them, but some will probably remain alive long enough to reach the destination. Experiments on the International Space Station have proved that spore-forming bacteria can remain viable in space for at least as long as it takes to get to Mars. [my emphasis in bold – onesimus]  (from https://phys.org/news/2017-06-strict-contamination-hamper-exploration-life.html )

ISS photo.jpg

In last year’s blog post I suggested why the search for life beyond earth is so important to many people.

If life could spontaneously start on earth without the need for Divine involvement then surely it ought to have started elsewhere too.

The more widespread life is out there in the universe, the more it could seem to legitimize the possibility that life doesn’t need a God to create it.

On the flip side – a completely barren universe (apart from earth) would tend to legitimize the Bible account of Creator God. If life can spontaneously come into being, why hasn’t it done so elsewhere? Why earth only?

Therefore scientists with an atheistic bent are desperate to find life elsewhere. It NEEDS to find evidence of widespread universal life.

Maybe there’s a degree of irony in the possibility that mankind’s attempts to find definitive, incontrovertible evidence of extra-terrestrial life is being made impossible by the search itself.

Destination Mars

Gloria and I have our places booked upon the Mars 2020 space craft, due to be launched in July next year. Here is my boarding pass.

Tim BoardingPass_MyNameOnMars2020 EDIT

NASA are launching this new mission to Mars and have invited the public to submit their names to be sent on the Mars 2020 Rover.

The Microdevices Laboratory at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) in Pasadena, California, will use an electron beam to stencil the submitted names onto a silicon chip with lines of text smaller than one-thousandth the width of a human hair (75 nanometers). At that size, more than a million names can be written on a single dime-size chip. The chip (or chips) will ride on the rover under a glass cover.

https://www.nasa.gov/press-release/nasa-invites-public-to-submit-names-to-fly-aboard-next-mars-rover

Souvenir boarding passes can be downloaded by everyone who registers.

I’m now considering how to make the best use of my frequent flyer points.

“Messiah” From the Shire?

Against all the opinion polls, against all of the bookmakers odds, Scott Morrison, the Pentecostal PM has won his “miracle election” so the government can continue to avoid taking any action on climate change (and other things)

The return of Scott Morrison’s Liberal/National Party government is being portrayed as a massive victory because the result went against all expectations of Labor winning significantly.

Morrison is being lauded in one Murdoch newspaper as “the Messiah from the Shire”*.

But, in reality, at the moment, it seems that the parliament will be practically the same as it was after the last election, with a Liberal/National government having only the same one or two seat majority they started with three years ago. Rather than a significant victory, Morrison has won the status quo.

My pre-election thoughts were that a return of the Lib/Nats under Scott Morrison would be along similar lines to Trump’s win and Brexit. ( I’ve now seen that Trump himself has made that comparison regarding Morrison’s victory). It would be the return of a disorganised schism-ridden government that would increase national turmoil. The focus would remain upon $$$$, in a way that would leave the more vulnerable behind.

scomo-coalAnd then there’s the climate change issue – with the Pentecostal PM well known for gleefully waving a lump of coal around during debate in parliament, and his government having a fixation on building coal fired power stations.

There are far too many problems with this government and its members to write about in a short blog post; including some very dodgy dealings with “environment policy”, in which record payments were made to companies with connections to those politicians awarding the payments.

However, that’s what the voting public, including the Pentecostal churches, have
supported.

Because of that, I consider the election result is very likely God’s judgement on this nation and on the church – just as I see Trump’s election was in America.

As disappointing as it is to see the way things have gone – I would have preferred to see a government take steps to address the nation’s economic inequalities, as well as do something rational with climate change policy – I know very well that any such steps would only be a temporary reprieve from the inevitable.

Before Jesus returns things are NOT going to get better, society is not going to become more equitable. Terrible, destructive changes to the climate and environment WILL happen no matter what steps humankind might take.

We also know that attitudes to God, to Jesus, to followers of Jesus will become more hostile and persecution of believers will be an increasing reality.
I think the actions and attitudes of the public face of “the church” will play a significant part in increasing that hostility.

I have seen what people are saying about the “Christian” Prime Minister in public discussion forums.
While those commenters are clearly, already, God-haters, the expression of Christianity they see through the Prime Minister’s example, gives  fuel to their hostility and makes their message easier to be swallowed by others: very much in the same way that evangelical support of Trump provides fuel for an anti-Christian hostility in the US

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* “Messiah from the Shire”, not a Hobbit/ Lord of the Rings reference. “The Shire” is the nickname of the southern suburbs of Sydney where Morrison lives.

An alternate nickname he has been given is “Liar from the Shire”.

Responding to Secular Politics

The LAST thing Australia, and its Christian residents, needs:

“Martyn Iles, the ACL’s (Australian Christian Lobby’s) new managing director… wants to transform it into a US-style conservative activist group”

Full Article

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We now have a week before our Federal election and Scott Morrison our Pentecostal Prime Minister seems to be running a one man team, with the majority of his ministry in hiding (apart from several who deserted his sinking ship by retiring from politics). All he can offer is billions of $$$ tax cuts, more than $80 billion going to the wealthy, but he has given no plan for how he will pay for those cuts.

Of course, he will be the political darling of the Australian Christian community, in particular the Hillsong types (he belongs to a Hillsong-like church in south east Sydney)

I have been following discussion about the election campaign in the media, and one regular comment I frequently see relates to the incongruity of Morrison’s (alleged) lying with his professed Christianity.
While anti-Christian rhetoric can be expected in a secular society, Morrison’s example is drawing increasing expressions of (non-rabid) distaste from less hostile commenters.
Are the accusations of lying valid? Let me say that I find him less than straight forward with the truth.

Politicians and politics can offer no long-term answers to a country or the world – but unfortunately our response to them can affect the image of Christianity (and the gospel) they see.

While both major sides of Australian politics are far from perfect, running up to this election I find it blatantly clear that one side is far more interested in (and currently capable of) effective, stable government, and the other (Morrison’s party)  is a total mess with no policies, beyond giving massive tax cuts to the wealthy.
Their only other offering is a scare campaign: that says things will only get worse under the other lot.

Scott Morrison seems to have forgotten Jesus’ words about being unable to serve two masters, that we can’t serve both God and money. His emphasis is always primarily on “the economy” and not on the people affected by “the economy”. Basically, his message is that if he takes care of the economy, the economy will take care of the people. As if the economy is a benevolent cognisant entity needing to be placated.
Especially ignored are those who have not benefitted from the prosperity allegedly being enjoyed by the nation due to the claimed current strong “economy”. It is clear that IF the strong economy exists (and is to be continued) it bypasses most, although not the already prosperous.

The group mentioned in the article linked at the top of the page are focused on issues of moral behaviour but they avoid a significant moral, political  failing – of not addressing the poverty experienced by an increasing number, while others receive and hoard more than they can ever use.

In my view, secular politics is not a tool that Christians can manipulate in an attempt to legislate morality. It often (inevitably) takes immoral directions, reflecting the secular, increasingly immoral society that it represents.
But it is something that has the potential to be used to make sure no one needs to be homeless or go hungry through no fault of their own.

While a perfect outcome is “pie in the sky” – Jesus said the poor will always be with us – I think from a Christian point of view, steps to aid the poor are more in line with Jesus than steps to further enrich the wealthy in the hope that they will share that wealth.

A commonly used quote to criticise welfare is “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat” – but the use of that phrase is rarely turned the other way to recognise its valid application to the idle rich who prosper from the work of others.

So what approach can Christians take while acknowledging the limits of secular democracy?
Make choices that reflect the character of Jesus within the secular society we temporarily inhabit.
Look at the kind of people Jesus ministered among and treat them as HE would treat them.
If political options can realistically help us along that path, we should make the most of them.

When Politics Trumps Truth (not about Donald)

SMH1

An article on the front page of yesterday’s Sydney Morning Herald reported on attempts by Christian group to join with Muslims and Buddhists – all for the aim of opposing the “godless” Labor Party in the approach Australian Federal election.

I have to wonder what kind of alliance those “Christians” are looking for. Clearly they don’t recognise the hypocrisy of cosying up to “godless” Buddhists, and Son of God denying Muslims.

They display hypocrisy in the name of pushing a political agenda – diluting Spiritual truth for an attempted political outcome. Forging a religious alliance that compromises their own professed religion.

By making their opposition to secular “godless” politicians their priority, they willingly yoke themselves to unbelief., in the process undermining the gospel and casting aside whatever Christian witness they claim to have.

Decline of Evangelicalism

A very interesting and astute article.
Thank you to Chris for bringing it to my attention, and thank you to Gloria for getting me to check my email spam file – where for some reason, Chris’s email had been dumped by my email account.

This article reflects MUCH more than a perception of the degrading of Billy Graham’s legacy. It is a reflection of the increasingly sorry state of “evangelical Christianity” as a whole.

 

Billy Graham Built a Movement. Now His Son Is Dismantling It.
If you want to understand the evangelical decline in the United States, look no further than the transition from Billy to Franklin Graham.

By STEPHEN PROTHERO

During World War II era, European churches were hurt badly by the affiliation of Christianity with right-wing political movements. During the 1940s and 1950s, the United States persisted in its religiosity as European countries secularized. In fact, the Americans witnessed a powerful religious revival after the war, thanks in part to Billy Graham.

That revival is over. Religion is now declining in the United States, and evangelicalism with it. In fact, over the last decade, the portion of white evangelical Protestants in the United States declined from 23 percent to 17 percent.

The most significant development in American religion in recent years is the shocking rise of the religiously unaffiliated (otherwise known as “nones”), who now account for roughly one quarter of all Americans. This increasing distance from religious institutions is accompanied by increasing distance from religious beliefs and practices. Today 27 percent of Americans describe themselves as “spiritual but not religious” and another 18 percent as “neither religious nor spiritual.” There are many reasons for this decline in religious believing and belonging. But the most important in my view is the increasing identification of the Christian churches with right-wing politics, [my emphasis in bold – Onesimus]

https://www.politico.com/magazine/story/2018/02/24/billy-graham-evangelical-decline-franklin-graham-217077