This past April all sorts of real scientists, as well as hobbyists and amateurs around the world, were treated to the first NASA images of the Cydonia region of Mars since 1976. This time NASA loaded the raw data on web pages which were mirrored around the world as soon as the Mars Global Surveyor orbiting camera had relayed the stored data to earth. Within a few hours, processed and refined images were also posted for all the world to see and to study.
I was first involved in studying these anomalous Viking images back in 1983 when my company, SRI International, sponsored a computer conference of scientists to study all the available data from a cross-disciplinary point of view. One of our concerns was that NASA had dismissed the Face as obviously just a trick of shadows and lighting. It seemed clear to us that NASA did not (and we did not) have enough actual data to take such a dogmatic position. Suppose these strange pictures were telling us about some ancient civilization on Mars? It was a far-out idea, but who could be certain? (See "Mars the Mysterious," Personal UPDATE 8/97, pp. 11-14.)
There has certainly been a lot of wild speculation about the Face on Mars in the past 22 years! But there has also been much legitimate review of the data and many quality journal articles published by reputable scientists.
In 1992 Professor Stan McDaniel of Sonoma State University in California organized a special committee of scientists which made a strong case for the possibility that the anomalies on Mars might not be natural.1
So a great flurry of e-mail crossed my desk just after the release of the new Cydonia images. At first, many of my colleagues who were committed to the belief that the artifacts were non-natural seemed very disappointed. Had NASA been right all along? However, a careful look at the new images (on the following pages) showed that there were still many unexplained symmetries at the site of the Face. Plus, triangular, rectangular, and repeating structures were still to be seen in Cydonia. Many strange things on Mars are surely natural without a doubt. Cellular features are very much like ice-wedge polygons found in frozen Arctic soils. But are some of the strange features on Mars still bearing muted evidence that intelligent beings once lived there?
To me, Mars is more fascinating than ever, and I myself still think some of the strange features on Mars may be artificial. We may have to wait for actual "ground-truth"-information at some future date-to be certain about this.
Our sister planet has lost its atmosphere in the past. The water from once-flowing streams, and perhaps even seas, has been lost to space or is frozen in the ground. Mars has evidently suffered some great catastrophe in its past. (See "Exploding Planets and Ancient Catastrophes," Personal UPDATE, 5/97, pp. 8-13.) But Venus is geologically fascinating also, and the outer planets and their moons are in the news as well.
Scientific curiosity - a desire to know and understand the universe in which we live - is a God-given characteristic in mankind. The accumulation and systemization of knowledge is not forbidden to man by our Creator, rather it is encouraged - except in the area of the occult, which is off limits to us. Psalm 115:15 says, "The heavens are the LORD's heavens, but the earth he has given to the sons of men." To some this seems to suggest that we are presently limited in what we can learn about our planetary neighbors and the universe as a whole.
The limitations are probably practical ones, including the enormous cost of space exploration, the new technology required, and the vast distances to be reached. We are indeed in an era of rapidly exploding knowledge about just about everything, but we are also very near to the end of the age. Our civilization will probably come to a crashing collapse from multiple causes long before we can get much farther into space.
The story of the Bible focuses on the redemption of a lost race on earth. It is on this one, unique planet that God placed one man and one woman. They bore the Creator's likeness and His very image. It is on our planet that evil came into the human race through fallen angels who inhabit the spiritual realm of the created cosmos. Earth is a visited planet, because God Himself came here. Taking on the form of a man, the Son of God identified with our race, becoming one of us as a child born in Bethlehem. Yeshua was taught, trained and prepared until He took our sins upon Himself and died in our place on a cruel cross just outside the city walls of Jerusalem.
There is much more we wish the Bible had told us about creation - about the planets and outer space and the marvels of our world. But God's self-disclosure of His Person in Christ and in the Bible is, in that sense, sparse. We wait for the rest of the story to be told to us.
And, surely, our generation is obsessed with the possibility of life on other planets. Today's new scientific research seems to be driven more by yesterday's science fiction than by a desire to tackle and solve the problems of overpopulation, the dangers of biological, chemical, and nuclear war, and the imminent danger of a last terrible world war in the Middle East.
Indeed, the Bible makes it very clear that our planet is to be visited again from outer space-very soon. When the Man, Jesus, who has been placed in charge of all of creation makes His return appearance, He will not show up in Cydonia on Mars but on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. It is He and He alone who holds the future in His hands. It is He who will guide His followers into all the mysteries of creation and of life. Knowing Him personally, which he invites us to do, is surely the most important secret in the universe. It is Jesus who said:
The Father judges no one, but has given all judgment to the Son, that all may honor the Son, even as they honor the Father. He who does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him. Truly, truly, I say to you, he who hears my word and believes him who sent me, has eternal life; he does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life. Truly, truly, I say to you, the hour is coming, and now is, when the dead will hear the voice of the Son of God, and those who hear will live. For as the Father has life in himself, so he has granted the Son also to have life in himself, and has given him authority to execute judgment, because he is the Son of man. Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming when all who are in the tombs will hear his voice and come forth, those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of judgment. (John 5:22-29)