The Mars rover Curiosity has discovered organic compounds on Mars. The evidence may be a sign of extraterrestrial life but does not yet support any conclusions. But for the sake of this discussion, assume that microbial life is about to be discovered on Mars.

1. How important is such a discovery? Will most folks see this as a big deal?

2. How does it change the conversation between atheists and religious apologists?

3. What are the implications for science and reason, theology and dogma, and the word of "holy" books?

4. Would we see Martian Life Deniers join the ranks of Evolution Deniers, Climate Change Deniers, and Holocaust Deniers?

I'm curious to hear the thoughts of the Think Atheist community.

Tags: Mars, biology, evolution, science

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What I think is more interesting is that if we find microbial life and it is DNA based, that we may discover that DNA is the way it is because there is no other way it could be. There have been experiments done to attempt to improve DNA or to use different bases. Only three new bases work with a high degree if reliability and even then it still isn't as good as ACGT bases. If we find DNA based life, it my seem like somehow it is related to life on earth, but the reality may be that DNA based life is the only way that life can exist.

That would be a monumental discovery in and of itself. 

No impact it would only strengthen their beliefs ....well perhps those who have had alot of doubts on religion will probably no longer believe ....but to those that are really crazy will only take it as info to strengthen their beliefs either by saying that it’s the devil trying to temp their faith or that god put them their and its part of gods plan.. so I see … no real victory for anyone

 

I got to admit I was dripping with anticipation for the hyped release of the reported "big news".

I am pretty disappointed with the official release though. I'm hoping to hear soon of the discovery of life past or present. Signs of ancient waters are promising, as is the presence of Carbon. Not sure why,but they seemed to play it off like it may have come from the rover itself.

Discovering life would be MEGA important. From a scientific point of view. I don't think it's possible to not see it as a big deal for anyone living in the modern world among today's technology.

It changes the conversation no doubt. It would disprove that this was all made for "MAN" for starters.

Don't really have a response to 3, except that somehow or somewhere I've read or heard that "holy books" claim that there is only life on Earth.

I can only envision extra-terrestrial life deniers with their foot in their mouth. I see a little cartoon in my head of a bible thumper, with his foot in his mouth, or one eating his little bishop hat or something, with a really funny caption. I'm looking forward to reading all the amended materials from the other deniers as it unfolds.

I guess that's my tuppence. All my opinion though and does not implicate nor represent the views of anyone else on "Think Atheist".

Thank You.

Have you ever heard of Raeliens? I'm sure they'd live this picture.

Thank you. That's funny.

Puts a smile on this atheist face.

It will have no impact. They will find some idiotic way to spin that as proof of god's amazing power.

It would have zero effect on theists.  No matter what the reality or the evidence, they always find some way of  deluding themselves into a belief that they have a savior who will allow them to transcend science and reason and go to Heaven.

Thank you, Hawk, for being my 'apologist', LOL! Thank you. You have well articulated what I was trying to say. The Christian faith is so flexible, so malleable, that a True Believer can adapt his mindset to any new discovery: "of course slavery is acceptable—it's in the Bible!" vs. "of course slavery is wrong; the Bible says we are all equal"/ "polygamy is acceptable; Solomon had 700 wives and he was blessed by God with wisdom" vs. "polygamy is not God's perfect plan for marriage, since elders were called to be 'husbands of but one wife' " etc. etc. (I can't wait to see how the Christian church will eventually 'explain' why Gay marriage is acceptable to God, as I believe they ultimately will!) Even Lewis struggled with this double-mindedness of faith; how is it that we are told to pray humbly that God will answer our prayers only "if it is His will" ... while at the same time, to pray in full assurance, and with no doubt that God will grant our prayers? (Lewis struggles honestly with this dilemma in his book _Letters to Malcolm: Chiefly on Prayer_). This is the same way that extraterrestrial life, once it is discovered, will be seamlessly integrated into orthodoxy.

Gallup's Mirror, let us be kind to one another. I am not your enemy. If you read my status page, you also read about how difficult I find it that the atheist 'stance' (if one there be) seems to be all intellectual rigour and argument and sarcasm and (it seemed to me as a Christian) anger and bitterness. More flies with honey than with vinegar, remember? I don't mean we should dumb down the truth — but we should remember to be kind. (Or as the Bible puts it, LOL!, "speaking the truth in love"). I think I increasingly identify more as a humanist than as an atheist, although both words can describe the same phenomenon; one is an absence, one is a positive orientation. I know that this is my own quirk, but please try to understand.

Gallup's Mirror, let us be kind to one another. I am not your enemy.

I accept sincerely. Let's be friends. I admit, I took you for a Christian troll, and fired up the rhetorical artillery. Cancel red alert.  

If you read my status page, you also read about how difficult I find it that the atheist 'stance' (if one there be) seems to be all intellectual rigour and argument and sarcasm and (it seemed to me as a Christian) anger and bitterness.

I adore intellectual rigor, enjoy a good argument, appreciate sarcasm as satire, and rarely feel angry with the rare exception of things like Kill the Gays. Beyond that, I'd rather go for a laugh, even if it's a bitter one, and especially at the expense of those who deserve it (such as the aforementioned Ugandans).

More flies with honey than with vinegar, remember? I don't mean we should dumb down the truth — but we should remember to be kind. (Or as the Bible puts it, LOL!, "speaking the truth in love").

I was going for ridiculous not unkind. Maybe the intestinal gnome thing was a bit over-the-top. I meant it sincerely though: I find belief in God as absurd as belief in gnomes. Tell me you've discovered one or the other and I'll say: show me. The presentation of truth ceases at that moment and as far as I'm concerned the presenter's invariably fallacious argument is now fair game.

I think I increasingly identify more as a humanist than as an atheist, although both words can describe the same phenomenon; one is an absence, one is a positive orientation. I know that this is my own quirk, but please try to understand.

I consider myself a Humanist as well, although I'm also an atheist. I don't think absence is the opposite of a positive, however. The end of something harmful is positive. And superstition is very harmful.  

1. finding life on Mars would be amazing and a big deal.

2. I cant see how it would change religious views, dinosaur boned didn't do it, cant see how that would.

3. again, i cant see much change between science and religion, though i would hope that it would boost funding in space programmes.

4. yup, i think many people would be in dis belief while others would attempt to further mould their ever more incompatible beliefe structure around it.

On a side note, based on what I have learnt from looking into the topic, I think that if evidence of life was found on Mars It would be more of a surprise to find that its life wasn't related to ours on earth.  

It would more likely be that our early life came from there or vice versa, rather than it coming from outside the solar system or evolving seperatly on its own on a younger Mars with no cross contamination from earth.

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