I. Arkady’s revolution & the Christian project of nonviolence
1. The Christian project of nonviolence
1.1 Biblical evidence
1.2 Explanation of the Christian nonviolence
1.2.1 J. B. Metz: “Gewaltlosigkeit nicht um jeden Preis”
1.2.2 R. Pesch: „Überwindung der Gewalt“
2. Arkady’s concept of the revolution
3. Franz Alt’s concept of nonviolence
II. Terraforming & the “Book of Genesis”
1. The Creation of the Universe
1.1 Biblical evidence
1.2 Exegetic explanation
1.2.1 The Paradise
1.2.3 Life in Peace and Harmony
1.2.5 The Tree of Knowledge
1.2.6 The Serpent
1.2.7 The Fall of Man
1.2.8 The Punishment
2. Terraforming Mars: Achievement for Humanity or the Fall of Man ?
4. Possible anticipations of the future
III. Messianic Empire or Apocalypse ?
Is it possible
to justify Arkady’s violence during the revolution
with his utopian ideas and aims
is it much more important and desirable to realize
the Christian concept of nonviolence
instead of fighting for utopian aims ?
1. The Christian project of nonviolence:
1.1 Biblical evidence:
Jesus Christ: "You have heard that it hath been said: An eye for eye and a tooth for a tooth. But I say to you not to resist evil: but if one strike thee on thy right cheek, turn to him also the other." (Mt 5, 38-39)
Jesus Christ: "You have heard that it hath been said: Thou shalt love thy neighbour and hate thy enemy. But I say to you: Love your enemies: do good to them that hate you: and pray for them that persecute and calumniate you: That you may be the children of your Father who is in heaven, who maketh his sun to rise upon the good and bad and raineth upon the just and the unjust. For if you love them that love you, what reward shall you have ? Do not even the publicans this ? And if you salute your brethren only, what do you more ? Do not also the heathens this ? Be you therefore perfect, as also your heavenly Father is perfect." (Mt 5, 43-48)
Jesus Christ: "But I say to you that hear: Love your enemies. Do good to them that hate you. Bless them that curse you and pray for them that calumniate you. And to him that striketh thee on the one cheek, offer also the other. And him that taketh away from thee thy cloak, forbid not to take thy coat also. Give to every one that asketh thee: and of him that taketh away thy goods, ask them not again. And as you would that men should do to you, do you also to them in like manner." (Lk 6, 27-31)
"To no man rendering evil for evil. Providing good things, not only in the sight of God but also in the sight of all men. If it be possible, as much as is in you, have peace with all men. Revenge not yourselves, my dearly beloved; but give place unto wrath, for it is written: Revenge is mine, I will repay, saith the Lord. But if thy enemy be hungry give him to eat; if he thirst, give him to drink. For, doing this, thou shalt heap coals of fire upon his head. Be not overcome by evil: but overcome evil by good." (Rom 12, 17-21)
"Not rendering evil for evil, nor railing for railing, but contrariwise, blessing: for unto this are you called, that you may inherit a blessing. For he that will love life and see good days, let him refrain his tongue from evil, and his lips that they speak no guile. Let him decline from evil and do good: let him seek after peace and pursue it: Because the eyes of the Lord are upon the just, and his ears unto their prayers: but the countenance of the Lord upon them that do evil things." (1 Petr 3, 9-12)
Jesus Christ: "All things therefore whatsoever you would that men should do to you, do you also to them. For this is the law and the prophets." (Mt 7, 12)
1.2 Explanation of the Christian nonviolence:
This "Golden Rule" is the basis of the Christian ethics, emphasizing charity, altruism and love of the enemy as a dogma for each Christian.
If you as a Christian appreciate this rule, you have to act deeply pacifistly without using any violence to achieve your aims - otherwise you would ignore basic Christian values.
But in reality the observance of this rule is not that easy to evaluate:
Isn't it much more Christian to invest all your hopefulness, activity, spontaneity and sometimes even violence to achieve utopian, ideal and human aims, to initiate an active change, an improvement of the world order with help for many people
than to be pacifist, in order to hide cowardice, passiveness, laziness, opportunism, resignation and disillusion, which leads to stagnation and to an indifferent acceptance of the situation ?
This question shows, how difficult it can be to act according to the Christian values of nonviolence, altruism and charity without becoming passive.
In the following you can find two different interpretations of the Christian concept of nonviolence:
1.2.1 Johann Baptist Metz: "Gewaltlosigkeit nicht um jeden Preis"
The commandment of the absolute nonviolence, which is formulated in the Sermon on the Mount, and the commandment of charity and love of the enemy ("Feindesliebe") are important issues of the Christian ethics.
In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus Christ contrasts the Pharisee's strict adherence of the law (with the only intention to conserve the law, which ends in itself) and the Christian ethics, pleading for the creativity of each individual in a certain situation. According to Jesus Christ you should reveal a universal humanity instead of behaving in a stereotyped way, in order to make a flexible reaction dependent on the situation possible.
But by realizing this ideal of altruism, you do not only practise the idea of charity, but also the absolute love to God ("Gottesliebe").
Although the fulfillment of this commandment is the highest ideal you can achieve or aim at, the practical realization is not that easy and unproblematic, because there is an indissoluble unity of charity and love of God. The former is characterized by the fact that it is not allowed to accept grief and sorrow of our neighbour without trying to change or to relieve it, whereas the latter imposes the patient acceptance of one's own sorrow and injustice on the Christian.
These two components (charity and love of God) indicate a great problem: When you experience violence, you have to suffer patiently relying on God's wisdom. But when another suffers, it would be sinful to accept his sorrow - even if the other wants to suffer relying on God's wisdom, too. These two components reveal an indissoluble quandary, because it is not possible to remain unguilty: if you accept your neighbour's sorrow, you violate the commandment of charity. But when you help the other, you have to use violence. In this case you do not respect the commandment of nonviolence.
This problem is insoluble, because you cannot remain unguilty.
Considering this aspect, simple nonviolence can also disguise cowardice, opportunism or laziness, which means that you could help your neighbour by using violence, but you advance the principle of nonviolence, in order to stay passive without having a guilty conscience.
In such cases the principles of charity and altruism should be decisive and you should use violence at worst, in order to help other people.
(Metz, J. B.: quoted in: Trutwin, W. (Hrsg.): "Forum Religion 3 - Christus erkennen", Düsseldorf 1983, p. 89)
On the other hand there are also some people who state that you are never able to surmount violence without realizing the concept of nonviolence:
1.2.2 Rudolf Pesch: "Überwindung der Gewalt"
According to Pesch it is only possible to surmount the evil by practising the good, whereas there are also many people who consider this commandment to be naive and illusiory. Their attitude is based upon the practicable and easy, but actually inadmissible separation of "Gesinnungs- and Verantwortungsethik".
This means that there are many people who appreciate Jesus' concept of nonviolence on their individual, private level ("Gesinnungsethik"), whereas they deny its validity on a social and public level ("Verantwortungsethik"). Consequently their inner attitude accepts the utopian, illusiory and naive commandments as humanitarian maxim, but their real behaviour and decisions do not take Jesus Christ for serious. Furthermore they believe that their responsibility requires radical decisions and not idealistic utopias without any foundation in reality.
However, by means of this separation they seem to forget that the concept of nonviolence is the only way to surmount the vicious circle of violence, hatred and terror, because violence only causes violence and nothing else.
Nevertheless the question, whether it is possible to create total nonviolence, still remains. But at least it would be possible to begin, to take the first step in society, education, art, literature, science and economy, but also in our private life.
(Pesch, R.: quoted in: Trutwin, W. (Hrsg.): "Forum Religion 3 - Christus erkennen", Düsseldorf 1983, p. 89-91)
2. Arkady's concept of the revolution:
According to "Red Mars" the reader has to answer the question, whether Arkady's revolution is legitimated by his utopian ideals and values or whether this violence is immoral and anti-Christian.
As a first step, we have to check, whether Arkady's attitude is really idealistic and utopian. In the following you can see some quotations, which prove this thesis:
"We are beginning a new society." (p. 60)
"There should be no signs of hierarchy." (p. 61)
"I (...) have no intention of repeating all of Earth's mistakes, just because of conventional thinking." (p. 61)
"It is our job to think things new, to make them new." (p. 61)
"Free of the past, free of the future, weightless in their own warm air, floating like spirits about to invest a material world (...)" (p. 85)
"Come what may, they had reached their goal. They had earned at least the chance to try." (p. 85)
"(...) the new world we now create!" (p. 88)
"history is a matter of environment and acting within lifetimes (...)" (p. 88)
"To be twenty-first-century scientists on Mars, in fact, but at the same time living within nineteenth-century social systems, based on seventeenth-century ideologies. It's absurd (...)" (p. 89)
"(A)mong all the many things we transform on Mars, ourselves and our social reality should be among them. We must terraform not only Mars, but ourselves." (p. 89)
"Everything here belongs to all equally. (...) It's been a very communal society, a democratic group. All for one and one for all." (p. 167)
"Arkady (is) the biggest advocate(...) of some kind of new Martian society." (Ann, p. 248)
"(We) will make a human life (...)"
"Arkady had been so much more than a political leader - everybody's brother, a natural force, the voice of one's conscience. One's innate sense of what was fair and just." (p. 513)
"(He) felt that difference in the air, the sense that they were all in a new space together, everyone facing the same problems, everyone equal, everyone (...) incandescent with the electricity of freedom." (p. 474)
"the euphoria of a new social contract, of a return to that child's dream of fairness we all began with -" (p. 474)
These quotations show Arkady's great thoughts and his great utopian ideals. For him everyone is equal and possesses the same rights and the same duties. He wants to create a better world.
But on the other hand he is also very brutal and radical - even be willing to use violence, if one did not share his opinion:
Nadia: "There's an awful lot of fighting going on." - Arkady: "That's all right, as long as we agree in certain basic things." (p. 167)
"We can never be self-sufficient unless we do terraforming (...) We need to terraform in order to make the planet ours, so that we will have the material basis for independence." (p. 172)
"he was sure many of Arkady's ideas were wrong and even dangerous." (John, p. 339)
"I am one of those who will fight to keep Mars from becoming a free zone for transnational mining. To keep us all from becoming happy slaves for some executive class (...)" (p. 344)
Besides Arkady demands "(d)irect action" (p. 344), which means even violence and war.
Nadia: "(Y)ou have to convince them. You can't just run roughshod over opposing opinions, otherwise you're just as bad as the people back home that you're always criticizing." - Arkady: "You damned liberals. (...) you're too soft-hearted to ever actually do anything." - Nadia: "You hate liberalism, because it works." - Arkady: "Earth is a perfectly liberal world. But half of it is starving, and always has been, and always will be. Very liberally." (p. 174-175)
Marian (Bogdanovist): "We can talk all we want, (...) but that's not going to change what they do." (p. 348)
Arkady: " 'if they try to subdue the free cities here, we will destroy everything on Mars.' That was the Swiss defense." (p. 475)
According to Arkady's values it would be possible to use violence at worst, when it is legitimated by utopian ideals.
But in contrast to this there is also someone like Franz Alt, who fights for an absolute acceptance and realization of the Christian values of nonviolence and charity:
3. Franz Alt's concept of nonviolence:
"Wer moralisiert, kann nicht moralisch handeln." (p. 73)
" 'Glaube' ist kein Ersatz für richtiges, verantwortliches Handeln." (p. 73)
"Die Wahrheit der Bergpredigt ist nicht nur die Wahrheit, sondern auch das Leben. Jesus: 'Ich bin der Weg, die Wahrheit und das Leben.' " (p. 73)
"Dieser Atheismus offenbart sich nicht so sehr in atheistischer Ideologie, sondern in der Mißachtung des Lebens." (p. 105)
"Jesus im 'Friedensevangelium der Essener' (...): 'Kein Mensch kann zwei Herren dienen. Entweder dient er dem Tode oder dem Leben." (p. 108)
"Das folgenschwerste Schisma des Christentums ist nicht Luthers Kirchenspaltung, sondern die Trennung von Religion und Politik. Dieses moderne Schisma spaltet den Menschen in religiös oder politisch, in fromm oder gescheit, in christlich fühlen oder materialistisch handeln, in theologisch oder philosophisch, in spirituell oder technisch." (p. 9)
"Frieden ist kein Schicksal, sondern unser Auftrag, so wie Krieg unser Versagen ist." (p. 23)
"Eine wesentliche Erkenntnis aus der Bergpredigt ist: Nur Menschen, die selbst friedlich sind, können auch politischen Frieden bewirken. Die 'falschen Propheten' erkennt man an dem, was sie tun. 'An ihren Früchten werdet ihr sie erkennen.' " (p. 27)
"Die Gerechtigkeit Jesu ist universal." (p. 29)
"Je weniger man das Böse in sich selbst erkennt, um so intensiver bekämpft man es bei anderen." (p. 79)
"Die richtigen Wege entscheiden über die richtigen Ziele. Nur über die richtigen Wege erreichen wir das Leben." (p. 82)
"Die Bergpredigt ist die Magna Charta eines ganzheitlichen Friedens für alle Menschen aller Zeiten." (p. 93)
"Im 'Friedensevangelium der Essener' sagt Jesus (...) über den Frieden: 'Sucht den Engel des Friedens in allem, was lebt, in allem, was ihr tut, in jedem Wort, das ihr sprecht. Denn Frieden ist der Schlüssel zu allem Wissen, zu jedem Geheimnis, zu allem Leben.' " (p. 111)
(from: Alt, Franz: "Frieden ist möglich - die Politik der Bergpredigt", München 1983)
Arkady Bogdanov believes in the power of revolutions as the only effective way to achieve social and political improvements. He demands for instance:
"Seizure of some property, or of the communication system - the institution of our own set of laws, backed by everyone here, out in the streets (...). It will come to that, because there are guns under the table. Mass demonstrations and insurrection are the only things that will beat them, history shows this." (p. 344)
He accepts insurrections as the only way to introduce a new social order and to surmount the old order of materialism, aspiration for profit and economical success. In contrast to his opinion, Franz Alt objects:
"Bisher haben alle Revolutionen bewiesen, daß man den 'neuen Menschen' nicht 'schaffen' kann. Doch Jesus will den Neuen Menschen, den Neuen Himmel und die Neue Erde. Dieser neue Mensch kann jedoch nur von innen kommen.(...) Menschen kann man nicht ändern, Menschen können nur sich selbst ändern. Es geht Jesus um die Umkehr der Herzen, um eine spirituelle Revolution, um jenen Glauben, der dann allerdings auch Berge versetzen kann." (p. 77-78), whereas the "Einwand: 'Es kann der Frömmste nicht in Frieden leben, wenn es dem bösen Nachbarn nicht gefällt', geht grundsätzlich am Problem vorbei, und zwar aus zwei Gründen:
Erstens: Dieser Einwand unterstellt, man selbst (...) sei gut, aber der andere (...) sei schlecht. Es fehlt also jede Selbsterkenntnis.
Zweitens: Man fordert wieder einmal zuerst vom anderen, was man selbst nicht zu leisten gewillt ist: Gewaltlosigkeit." (p. 78)
But despite this idealistic and admirable attitude, it is not that easy.
Needless to say that it is not possible to convince people by violence or to set up a new social and political system without considering the public opinion. Furthermore social change is on a long-term basis much more effective and successful, if people initiate and realize this improvement by themselves without other people's (e. g. of political groups) "help" (also in form of violence and war).
But don't you have to support improvements, if they serve everyone or even a lot of people? A possible objection is the experience that the destruction of revolutions does not help anyone, but ruins the lifeworks of so many people by demolishing whole cities and with it the foundation of life, to say nothing from the great acquisitions.
Arkady is capable and willing to give human lives, in order to set up a new social order. But in contrast to this, Arkady is not that merciless. He struggles for freedom, liberty and responsibility of every individual by abolishing the materialism and capitalism, in order to set up a just and fair order on Mars. These utopian principles are accompanied by Arkady's strength, power, courage and will. Besides this thesis is proved by the fact that he does not want the so-called "Swiss defense". His statement: " 'I never did like the idea (...). 'It was mutual assured destruction all over again' ". (p. 473) - " '(...) Now we're back to the Swiss defense.' Destroy what they wanted and take to the hills, for resistance forever. It was more to his liking." (p. 473) These quotations show that Arkady does not want to destroy everything, just to destroy something copying other great revolutions, but that he is just trying to realize his utopian intentions. In this context you can also say that he is willing to give his life, if it would be necessary. And later on he dies for his utopia, for his ideas and ideals. In so far he is a hero, because he died for a better world and for humanistic ideals.
Nevertheless you cannot neglect that Arkady killed innocent people, although he did not want to. He acts very brutally and fundamentally without appreciating liberal values. Besides his behaviour is a bit paradox, because he fights for freedom by using unfree and unfair methods. Instead of surmounting the evil, he tries to achieve the good by using it, although violence just causes violence and nothing else. Fritz Heinemann says: "Es gibt keinen Gott im Himmel und auf Erden, vor dem die Vernichtung (...) von Menschen (...) gerechtfertigt werden könnte. Besteht irgendein moralisches Gesetz, durch das die völlige Zerstörung großer Städte entschuldigt werden könnte?" - hardly. But the Bible also claims: "And be not conformed to this world: but be reformed in the newness of your mind, that you may prove what is the good and the acceptable and the perfect will of God." (Rom 12, 2) This indicates that you have also to renew your thoughts; even if this involves the fight for your ideals.
In this context it becomes clear that it is not possible to remain unguilty.
What is better: to remain passive by accepting the sorrow of many people or to fight by helping them even violently ?
In this context you can also regard the great revolutions in history: 1776 the Declaration of Independence, 1789 the French Revolution, 1848/49 the German Revolution etc. Although these revolutions used violence, they initiated the great achievements of democracy by proclaiming the human and civil rights.
And what about the murder of a tyrant ? The attempt on Hitler's life (20/07/1944) was violence as well, but was it not justified by his cruel, racist and anti-Semitic attitude, which lead to the murder of so many Jews and to the Second World War ?
A such decision is always a tightrope walk, which cannot be generally answered, but has to be made by everyone individually.
The expression: "Eine wesentliche Erkenntnis aus der Bergpredigt ist: Nur Menschen 'die selbst friedlich sind', können auch politisch Frieden bewirken. 'Die falschen Propheten' erkennt man an dem, was sie tun. 'An ihren Früchten werdet ihr sie erkennen.' " (Alt, Franz, p. 27) is very significant. Arkady "had opened the Pandora's box" (p. 85) and initiated a revolution, which lead to destruction and death. But in contrast to his violence: what are the fruits of the pacifist people on Mars ?
The transnationals just want to increase their profits, their economic power and their political influence, even if they had to exploit their workers and employees. It is true that they are nonviolent, but they are also just materialistic, appreciating neither Christian nor humanistic values.
And that this behaviour (as well as violence) is not tolerated by the Bible as well, shows the following sentence:
"For what is a man advantaged, if he gain the whole world and lose himself and cast away his life for my sake shall save it." (Lk 9, 25)
Consequently it is obvious that there are a lot of arguments, which are in favour of Arkady's revolution, but that there are also some, which speak against his line of action. This fact indicates that there is no ready-made solution or universally valid definition, which releases us from the necessity of deciding individually, whether we support or refuse Arkady's violence as precondition of an active change and an achievement for humanity.
And there is no one, who can help us to decide on this topic, because we are only responsible for ourselves disposing of the god-gifted freedom of choice. But regardless whether we agree or disagree on Arkady’s revolution and violence, we can never remain unguilty!
“The Book of Genesis” & Terraforming
Terraforming: Achievement for Humanity or the Fall of Man ?
Will we need a second Ark ?
1. "The Book of Genesis":
The Creation of the Universe
1.1 Biblical Evidence:
c. f. Gen 1 – 3
1.2 Exegetic Explanation:
In the beginning "God createth Heaven and Earth, and all things therein, in six days." (Gen, 1) Afterwards "God resteth on the seventh day and blesseth it. The early paradise, in which God placeth man. He commandeth him not to eat of the tree of knowledge." (Gen, 2)
But God's harmonic Creation was disturbed by "(the) serpent's craft. The fall of our parents. Their punishment. The promise of a Redeemer." (Gen, 3)
The Book of Genesis and God's Creation of the universe is certainly not historically founded. It has been written during the salomonic period (approximately 1000 b. C.) to warn and to admonish people not to become too self-assured and not to forget that God is their Creator and their Lord.
According to "Red Mars" you can say that the early colonists needed such a warning, too, because they began to terraform Mars without considering or respecting God's Creation and commandments. So they also experienced in the figurative sense a sort of paradise (Mars in its untouched beauty) with a God given border (it is not possible to live on Mars without help), a serpent (the new technologies) and the Fall of Man (terraforming Mars by disdaining God's commandments).
In detail these aspects mean:
1.2.1 The Paradise:
In the "Book of Genesis" the Paradise is described as a place, where everything is perfect and all creatures are living happy and peacefully together. This Paradise is a symbol for the undisturbed and affectionate relationship between God and the human beings. This absolute harmony forms a big contrast of the reality on Earth and the biblical description of former times. But it was not God, who disturbed this harmony, but man.
Referring to the novel "Red Mars" this Paradise is the red planet itself in his untouched beauty. On Mars you can find the original harmony between the Creator and his Creation, because it is still in the state, in which God created it. It could even be possible that there is life on Mars - indigenous life. There are many scientists who deny that, in order to save their terraforming project, but nevertheless we can never be sure, because their is no guaranty that we are able to identify this life, as our definition of life might not be sufficient.
Consequently Mars could be seen as the biblical paradise with its absolute harmony as great contrast to our reality. We altered Earth, we polluted its atmosphere with CO2, contaminated the environment, deforested the rain forest etc. and now we do not know its originate state anymore.
So, on Mars the harmony between the Creator and his Creation still existed - until the Ares landed on Mars and disturbed this desirable, irreplaceable and irretrievable harmony.
Genesis 1 - 2, 4:
God created "man to (his) image and likeness" (Gen 1, 26), with which he enabled him to live happy and peacefully in his nearness. Besides God granted the human beings a special dignity and preeminence and made them lords over all living creatures: "let him have domination over the fishes of the sea, and the fowls of the air, and the beasts, and the whole earth, and every creeping creature that moveth upon the earth." (Gen 1, 26) Yet this preeminence is not only accompanied by special rights and privileges, but also by assignments and duties: Man is responsible for the Earth and its creatures, which means not the mastery over the universe, but the preservation and protection of God's Creation by accepting and respecting him as just and fair ruler. All this implies that human beings should never fall into arbitrariness or a feeling of omnipotence, because they should always be aware that God is the master of life. In addition God gave the humans beings the possibility to decide on their own without being influenced by mystic powers.
Genesis 2,5 - 3, 24:
This position is also emphasized in the second part of Genesis, in which God created man himself: "And the Lord God formed man of the slime of the earth, and breathed into his face the breath of life; and man became a living soul." (Gen 2, 7) This process of creation implies that the human soul is a direct product of God's creativity and deed, which includes the special bond between God and man.
Nevertheless it is said explicitly that "the Lord God took man, and put him into the paradise of pleasure, to dress it, and to keep it." (Gen 2, 15) That means that the human beings are the caretaker of the earth and not their masters. Additionally you can make out that work is part of the human condition, although in this originate state it was not hard, but a pleasure, which founded the dignity of man.
Genesis calls the first man "Adam" (Gen 2, 25). The word "adama" is Hebrew and means earth or soil. This significant name of the first man should remind us of our innate weakness, fragility, mortality and transience, which reveals the natural determination of the human race. Referring to this aspect you can also pay attention to the requiem's liturgy: "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread till thou return to the earth, out of which thou wast taken: for dust thou art, and into dust thou shalt return." (Gen 3, 19) With this sentence God points out that there are limits like death, which cannot and should not be touched by humans because of their innate imperfection: "Die unentrinnbare Rückkehr eines jeden Menschen zur Erde, zum Staub des Erdreiches, wird in Gen 3, 19 drastisch zum Ausdruck gebracht." (Alt, Franz: "Frieden ist möglich - die Politik der Bergpredigt", München 1983, p. 121)
In the novel "Red Mars" the new gene healing method/the longevity treatment to prolongate human life contradicts the God-given mortality and transience of the human condition. The human beings ignore the natural limits, which are determined in their condition without considering the possible and incalculable consequences. The arrogant revolution against these innate shortcomings resembles the Fall of Man, which is described in the following.
1.2.3 Life in Peace and Harmony:
Adam's and Eva's life in peace and harmony has nothing to do with the literary sense of the word "life" in its biological meaning. In the exegetic sense it means the nearness of God, the almighty and kind Creator, as granted mercy ("Gottesnähe").
On Mars this phenomenon is realized in the privilege of being able to enjoy its untouched nature and beauty, its strangeness as a place in universe, where you are able to feel the breath of your Creator.
In contrast to this, death is also not meant in the biological sense, but as an insurmountable distance between God and man ("Gottesferne"), which means suffering and unluck for every human being. Consequently death is God's menace and punishment, if man sins against God's commandments.
In “Red Mars” death and punishment means on the one hand the physical death, but on the other hand also revolution, sorrow, danger, violence and hatred in form of overpopulation, crime and war on Mars and Earth. There are many people (e. g. Sax) whose lifework was destroyed, who were pursued and who suffered from this development. This humiliation can also stand for the lack of respect towards God's Creation:
"Die Entfernung zwischen Mensch und Gott ist heute riesig. Um so notwendiger sind Brücken. Die Brücke zum Leben im Sinne des Schöpfers." (Alt, Franz: "Frieden ist möglich - die Politik der Bergpredigt", München 1983, p.112)
The temporary denouement of "Red Mars" does not indicate that there is such a merciful and charitable bridge between God and Man, but that the novel's characters have to suffer the whole dreadful extent of God's punishment (c. f. "The Punishment").
1.2.5 The Tree of Knowledge:
"And (God) commanded (man), saying: Of every tree of paradise thou shalt eat: But of the tree of knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat. For in what day soever thou shalt eat of it, thou shalt die the death." (Gen 2, 16-17)
The significance of this tree is very important. The "tree of knowledge" is the symbol of God's omnipotence and omniscience. As a special emphasis of this fact God introduced that tree as a limit, which the mortal and imperfect human beings have to respect at all events. This fact shows that human beings are neither able nor allowed to touch the unlimited and unattainable power of God.
Transferred on the novel "Red Mars" God's omnipotence and omniscience is shown by the fact that human beings are not able to survive without help (spacesuits etc.) in the rough and hostile Martian climate. This could mean that this planet was not designated for the accommodation of human life at all. God set that limit to the human beings and reserved the red planet for other
things, because he, the Lord of the universe, is the only one, who can decide, how, when and who should and can live on Mars.
1.2.6 The Serpent:
"Now the serpent was more subtle than any of the beasts of the earth which the Lord God had made." (Gen 3, 1)
Even in fables the serpent represents malice and insidiousness. In Genesis the serpent is a sign of temptation, which tempts Adam and Eva to eat from the tree of knowledge, which is equivalent to a violation of God's laws and commandments. But nevertheless it is not the serpent, which is bad and which sins against God’s laws, but man, because Adam and Eva have the freedom to decide, whether they want to sin or not. The serpent is a sort of occasion, which makes a decision of Adam and Eva necessary, which forces the human beings to decide: either they do not eat from the tree and respect God's commandments or they sin by eating from the tree, which means that they try to become like God.
In the novel "Red Mars" the serpent could be represented by the new technologies, which enable man to alter, to interfere, to experiment and even to tamper with the God-given natural order. Concretely this could mean the possibilities to go to Mars, to terraform it or to prolongate human life.
Furthermore man has created the serpent himself and now he cannot get rid of the ghosts that he has awakened before, which means that the new technologies tempt him to alter his natural surrounding and to arrogate himself to be as God - to give and take life, to create new forms of life etc. And these possibilities, which enable the human beings to alter God's creation, are the occasions, which force man to decide, whether he wants to sin against God or not.
Consequently man has to decide, whether he eats from the tree of knowledge or not - when we decide imprudently, we would cause God's fury and punishment, which leads to grief, sorrow, violence, death and an insurmountable distance between God and man ("Gottesferne").
1.2.7 The Fall of Man:
"And the woman saw that the tree was good to eat, and fair to the eyes, and delightful to behold: and she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave to her husband who did eat." (Gen 3, 6) In this moment, when Adam and Eva eat from that tree, they have the intention to become as almighty, powerful and kind as God is, because the tree is the symbol of his omnipotence and omniscience. By eating its fruit they arrogate God's creation to themselves without respecting his commandment. So they sin against the Lord God and his Creation.
Referring to "Red Mars" the Fall of Man is the attempt of the human beings to terraform Mars. They try to change the planet into a second Earth, they alter its surface and destroy its natural outward appearance. They use every technical possibility to change the Martian climate (e. g. melting of the pole caps, thickening the atmosphere etc.).
So they destroy not only the natural circumstances on Mars, but also a whole self-contained world and by this - they alter God's creation without thinking about the perhaps and even probable disastrous consequences.
Consequently you can say that the "First 100" and later on the other colonists eat many fruits from the tree of knowledge, they sin against God's Holy Creation by violating his commandments and by trying to act like him - that is the second Fall of Man, with incalculable as well as inevitable consequences.
1.2.8 The Punishment:
"To the woman also he (God) said: I will multiply thy sorrows, and thy conceptions. In sorrows shalt thou bring forth children, and thou shalt be under thy husband's power, and he shall have dominion over thee. And to Adam he said: Because thou hast hearkened to the voice of thy voice, and hast eaten of the tree, where of I commanded thee that thou shouldst not eat, cursed is the earth in thy work; with labour and toil shalt thou eat thereof all the days of thy life." (Gen 3, 16-17)
This punishment includes degradation and humiliation and causes an insurmountable distance between God and the human beings ("Gottesferne").
"And the Lord God sent him out of the paradise of pleasure, to till the earth from which he was taken. And he cast out Adam; and placed before the paradise of pleasure Cherubims, and a flaming sword, turning every way, to keep the way of the tree of life." (Gen 3, 23-24)
Work is no longer pleasure, but hard strain, the birth of children causes pain etc. This shows that man is responsible for his own pain, sorrow and grief, because he has abused his God-given freedom of choice to violate God's commandments. And now he has to endure the inevitable consequences of God's punishment.
Transferred to the novel "Red Mars" you can interpret the revolution in general as well as the death or the persecution of some people (e. g. Sax, Arkady, John) as an immediate divine punishment as reaction to their terraforming-sins, but otherwise you can also diagnose that possible consequences in the form of an apocalypse (which would be a much more dreadful, cruel and terrible than just personal sorrow) are not only unavoidable, but also unforeseeable and could be much more disastrous than anything we can think of.
All in all you can say that the "Book of Genesis" is compatible with the plot of "Red Mars".
On the basis of the novel's temporary denouement (chaos, insurrection, revolution, death, destruction) you can state that the "First 100" as well as the other colonists fall and that their terraforming projects are by no means compatible with the faith in God as Lord and Creator of the whole universe.
2. Terraforming Mars:
Achievement for Humanity or the "Fall of Man" ?
With remarks like: "The planet is the lab." (Sax, p. 263) or "New organisms are being cooked up daily." (John, p. 248) the proponents of terraforming show that they neither respect life nor God's Creation, although these transient values are unspeakable bigger and greater than themselves and their abilities. In contrast to this attitude Franz Alt replies: "Daß wir nicht einmal einen grünen Grashalm erschaffen können und trotzdem keinen Schöpfer mehr anerkennen wollen, zeigt, was uns heute am meisten fehlt: Selbsterkenntnis, Einsicht in unsere Grenzen." (Alt, Franz: "Frieden ist möglich - Die Politik der Bergpredigt", München 1983, p. 33)
Looking at these conflicting opinions, it is clear that everyone has to decide for himself, whether he is a proponent or an opponent of terraforming. In the following there is a list of arguments, which should enable the reader to evaluate the two sides of the controversial issue:
"Science is creation." (Sax, p. 178)
vs. "You find your justifications where you can, but it's bad faith, and it's not science." (Ann, p. 177)
"We change (Mars) just by landing." (Sax, p. 40)
vs. "it's immoral", because of "the possibility of indigenous life" - "the status of life on Mars is unknown" (Ann, p. 170)
"Without the human presence (Mars) is just a collection of atoms, no different than any other random speck of matter in the universe. It's we who understand it, and we who give it meaning." (Sax, p. 177)
vs. "Wir sind nicht die Herrscher über die Natur, sondern Kinder der Natur." (Alt, Franz: p. 109)
"The lack of life here, and the lack of any finding (...) indicates that life is rare, and intelligent life even rarer. And yet the whole meaning of the universe, its beauty, is contained in the consciousness of intelligent life. We are the consciousness of the universe, and our job is to spread that around, (...) to live everywhere we can." (Sax, p. 178)
vs. "We are not the lords of the universe. We're one small part of it. We may be its consciousness, but being the consciousness of the universe does not mean turning it all into a mirror image of us. It means rather worshiping it with our attention." (Ann, p. 179)
"It is too big, and there are too many factors, many of them unknown. (...) It's an experiment, a big one, and it will always be an (...) experiment, with nothing guaranteed or known for sure." (Sax, p. 172)
vs. "Gottes Gebot 'Du sollst nicht töten' muß heute in einer neuen Dimension begriffen werden: Du sollst künftigen Generationen Leben ermöglichen, du sollst ihre Geburt zulassen." (Alt, Franz: p. 42)
vs. "There is this about the human mind: if it can be done, it will be done. We can transform Mars and build a cathedral, as a monument to humanity and the universe (...)." (Sax, p. 178)
vs. "Wer die Gesetze der Natur kennt, ist noch lange kein Gesetzgeber." (Alt, Franz: p. 33)
These arguments indicate that there are a lot of arguments which justify both opinions. Nevertheless the following arguments against terraforming do not find any invalidation in the novel "Red Mars":
"Frieden und Ausbeutung der Natur sind unvereinbar." (Alt, Franz: p. 101)
"Menschen sollen nur eines: In Bescheidenheit sich selbst erhalten. Wenn wir diese Aufgabe nicht erfüllen, wird ewige Finsternis herrschen: Es wird dann keinen Frieden mehr geben, keinen Haß und keine Liebe , keine Trauer und keine Freude, keinen Tod mehr und nie mehr die Geburt eines Kindes." (Alt, Franz: p. 33)
"Wir wissen heute nicht zuwenig, wir wissen heute eher zuviel. Es fehlt uns nicht an Informationen, wohl aber an Orientierung." (Alt, Franz: p. 114)
(from: Alt, Franz: "Frieden ist möglich - die Politik der Bergpredigt", München 1983)
There is "Hoffnung auf den neuen Himmel und die neue Erde", in which "Hoffnung und Schöpfungsglaube (..) untrennbar zusammen(gehören)". - "Deshalb gehört zu unserer Hoffnung die Bereitschaft, diese unsere tödliche, in sich verfeindete und leidvoll zerrissene Welt ohne Zynismus und ohne schlechte Naivität als letztlich zustimmungsfähig anzuerkennen, als verborgenen Anlaß zur Dankbarkeit und zur Freude: als Schöpfung Gottes."
Respecting God's Creation it is essential to be "empfänglich für die Wehen der Schöpfung, für das Seufzen der Kreaturen", but "Zustimmung und Dankbarkeit, Lob des Schöpfers und Freude an der Schöpfung sind kaum gefragte Tugenden in einer Gesellschaft, deren öffentliches Bewußtsein zutiefst verstrickt ist in das universale Spiel der Interessen und Konflikte, (...) in einer Lebenswelt, für die als gesellschaftlich bedeutsames Handeln des Menschen eigentlich nur gilt, was sich als Naturbeherrschung (...) ausweisen läßt".
"Wie weit haben wir uns diesen Prozessen längst widerstandslos unterworfen? Wohin führen sie uns? In die Apathie? In die Banalität?" What we really need is the "Solidarität der Gesamtschöpfung (...), innerhalb deren der Mensch zur Herrschaft, nicht aber zur Willkür eingesetzt ist."
(from: Deutsche Synode, quoted in: Trutwin, Werner: "Forum Religion 2 - Laßt uns den Menschen machen", Düsseldorf 1983, p. 118)
Needless to say that the terraforming-problem is a very complex question, because it takes a lot of time to decide, whether you are an opponent or a proponent of terraforming on Mars. A very convincing attitude referring to the complexity and the apparent insolubility is expressed by the Swiss Jürgen: "Both sides say they are in favour of nature, of course. One has to say this. The reds say that the Mars that is already here is nature. But it is not nature, because it is dead. It is only a rock. The greens tell this, and say they will bring nature to Mars with their terraforming. But that is not nature either, that is only culture. A garden, you know. An artwork. So neither way gets nature. There isn't such a thing possible on Mars." (p. 258) This attitude is certainly acceptable, but according to the essence of Genesis it seems to be clear that terraforming is not compatible with the faith in God as Lord and Creator of the universe, although it might offer also a lot of advantages for mankind.
As for instance, the proponents of terraforming emphasize that the colonization of Mars opens up new vistas. By thickening its atmosphere, Mars would become a second Earth and furthermore very attractive for immigration. By these means it would be possible to increase the profits and make the whole Mars-project economically profitable (mining, space elevator, resources etc.).
Consequently self-sustained, independent human life on Mars would become possible - and things that are possible, are also probable. Such an habitable planet with an appropriate infrastructure would be a complete replica of Earth in terms of geological, physical and geographic conditions, with which problems like overpopulation, famine and war on Earth could be solved.
Nevertheless there are also many disadvantages. You would not only risk the destruction of the Martian uniqueness with its intrinsic worth, but also the destruction of possible indigenous life. Besides you can never be sure about the long-term consequences - and this is just a worldly objection.
Considering the biblical values, each terraforming effort is repugnant to God's Creation in terms of the a possible second Fall of Man, because of man playing God and tampering with nature, instead of preserving and taking care of the world.
Although terraforming proponents try to invalidate this argument by the fact that there is already a lot of environmental pollution on Earth, which is accepted by human beings as consequence of their convenience (cars, planes, ships, machines etc.), they cannot deny the fact that there are many parallels between their behaviour and the Fall of Man.
But anyway Christians have to face the reproach that they cannot claim the observance of Christian values, although they accept the pollution on Earth, in order to preserve their own convenience. The Christians could reply that it is right: we should not accept things like environmental pollution, famine and war, because they are not Christian and because they contradict God's Creation, but when we see the problems on Earth, the grief and sorrow of so many people (in the developing countries, in Tschetschenia, in Kosovo and so on), then we see that we have to be grateful for every minute we live as we live. But a such cognition is not sufficient. It should oblige us to care for our planet, to help, wherever it is possible, and to remain in the consciousness that there is someone, who is much bigger and greater than ourselves.
So, if we do not worship God's Creation, we will need a second ark - at best.
Because it is much more probable that we have to go through an apocalypse - considering, what mankind did to Earth, you have to say: rightly.
And when there are people who claim the power of new technologies, the serpent's temptation, as an excuse for their immoral behaviour, then you can say: "It is what people do that it is good or bad, not what they can do." (The Economist) God granted us the freedom of choice accompanied by consciousness and reason - but this obliges us to decide with a sense of responsibility in favour of God's Creation - if not, well, look at possible consequences:
4. Possible Anticipations of the future:
Which consequences will our behaviour have ?
Adam and Eva had to leave the paradise and to cope with the problems on Earth like death, disease, war, hatred, pain, sorrow, grief etc. And nevertheless they did not give in their sealed fate, which they had caused by their own behaviour and decision, they did not start to live and act according to God's rules, but on the contrary man challenged God a second time: he sinned so that God had to send the Flood, in which he saved only the pious Noe and his family :
c. f. Gen 6,1 – 9,1
In this story about Noe and his ark God punished man because of his sinful deeds, in which he neglected God's commandments. This can be regarded as the second Fall of Man.
Referring to "Red Mars" man also committed the second Fall against God's commandments without thinking about the consequences. And what will they be: Does mankind need a second ark? Or is the Ares the ark, which leads the most intelligent people from Earth ("First 100") to a better, safer world ?
On Earth there are already many signs, which show that God's Creation is in serious danger. Here are some quotations, that will prove this thesis:
"Wenn sich der Mensch nicht in diese natur-gesetzten Bedingungen einläßt, sondern eigenwillig-selbstherrlich Grenzen verschiebt bzw. ignoriert, dann schlägt die Natur zurück. Die Revolte der Natur wendet sich gegen den Menschen selbst."
"Natur und Mensch sind auf Einheit hin, auf Bündnis geschaffen. Der Schöpfer hat sein Schöpfungswerk 'einig' gewollt; alle Geschöpfe sind solidarisch: das eine ist mit dem anderen verschworen; alles ist auf Gedeih und Verderb aufeinander angewiesen und verwiesen."
"Dem Alten Testament eignet eine Weltsicht, die Mensch und Natur in eins faßt und zusammenschließt. Gewisser Vorrang kommt sogar der Natur zu; denn sie beschenkt und gewährt großzügig (...) Güter und Werte, d. h. jene Lebensmittel, die dem Unterhalt des Menschen dienlich sind. Daher muß sich der Mensch als Teilhaber und Partner der Natur wissen und verhalten."
"In der Einbettung in den Kosmos der letztlich unverfügbaren Natur erfährt der Mensch sowohl die Macht als auch die Wohltat Gottes."
"Der Mensch, der selbst dem Erdboden entnommen ist, hat den göttlichen Auftrag erhalten, diese seine Herkunfts-Erde in Besitz zu nehmen, zu bebauen, d. h. zu hegen und sorgsam-erhaltend zu pflegen. Der gesamte Schöpfungsbericht ist gleichsam eine einzige Predigt gegen den Egoismus der geschöpflichen Wesen. Ihren Wert besitzen sie lediglich dadurch, daß sie dem Schöpfungsplan Jahwes entstammen."
"Emanzipiert sich der Mensch selbstherrlich aus der Ur-Bindung an den Schöpfer, der Leben gewährt, dann treibt der Mensch von der Schöpfung selbst weg und verfällt der Entfremdung. In biblischer Sicht besteht letztere darin, daß das menschliche Geschöpf seinen Bezug zum Urheber und Erhalter löst. Der alttestamentliche Friedensbegriff hat viel mit einem ausgesöhnten Verhältnis des Menschen mit der Natur zu tun."
" 'Schalom' meint immer auch Versöhnung mit den Gewalten der Natur."
"Der mit Welt- und Naturbeherrschung beauftragte Mensch bleibt Teil der Schöpfung, d. h. innerhalb der Grenze des Kreatürlichen (...). Paradiesische Eintracht aller Lebewesen ist Ur-Wille des Schöpfers."
(Rock, Martin, quoted in: Trutwin, Werner (Hrsg.): "Forum Religion - Laßt uns den Menschen machen", Düsseldorf 1983, p. 121 - 122)
By reading these quotations it is obvious that they do not only evaluate the state on Earth, but can be a standard and maxim on Mars as well.
The arguments of the terraforming proponents reveal on the one hand a deep-seated presumption and disdain of God as almighty and kind Lord and Creator of the universe. Scientists like Sax, Arkady and John refuse persistently to accept the fact that they do not have the right to rule and to alter, although they might be able to. On the other hand these scientists claim to solve many earthly problems like overpopulation, crime, wars and famine by making Mars more hospitable and with it possible for human beings to live there.
But although this might be a great step to relieve Earth of many people and to deconcentrate the problems, even Robinson himself has to confess: "The Earth's population is too big, and crossing space too difficult, and Mars too barren, for Mars be any kind of relief for the population problems that will increase here in severity in the 21st century. The only solutions are going to be right here on Earth (...) - but (Mars) cannot help us as a new physical space".
Besides there are many biblical reasons, which confirm, why terraforming is inhuman and blasphemic and why we should stop it:
Considering the problems on Earth it is obvious that the pollution of our environment contradicts the divine order of saving God's Creation in responsibility and sensibility. Today we are not even able to control the problems, which we have caused by ourselves on Earth, because we prefer to satisfy our egoistic and egocentric urges like greediness, jealousy and ambition.
Consequently you can say that man is not even able to cope with the problems on Earth and to care for it in responsibility, but anyway there are a lot of people who want to alter another planet with its surface, atmosphere and its whole characteristic features.
Are we really willing to be responsible for the pollution and the following end of God's Creation ?
"The earth mourned and faded away and is weakened: the world faded away: the height of the people of the earth is weakened. And the earth is infected by the inhabitants thereof: because they have transgressed the laws, they have changed the ordinance, they have broken the everlasting covenant. Therefore shall a curse devour the earth: and the inhabitants thereof shall sin. And therefore they that dwell therein shall be mad: and few men shall be left." (Isaias 24, 4-6)
Apart from the Apocalypse this extract from Isaias is one of the most impressing examples of an eschatologic possibility, which shows that the human beings are guilty of having tampered with God's Creation and that they have to endure the consequences.
"Menschsein heißt Teilhaben an der Schöpfung." (Alt, Franz, p. 32) The essence of this sentence is absolutely disregarded by the proponents of terraforming, which is not only atheistic, but also blasphemic. By ignoring nature as a God-given present, we cause not only our own death, but also the death of the next generations. When Jesus Christ reminds us "im 'Friedensevangelium der Essener' (...): 'Kein Mensch kann zwei Herren dienen. Entweder dient er dem Tod oder dem Leben.' " (Alt, Franz, p. 108) he shows us that there is only one answer, which leads to life and that we have to decide. You cannot say: "Well, I'm not sure, whether I'm a red or a green.", because you would be opportunistic and you would not be against blasphemic projects. "Die richtigen Wege entscheiden über die richtigen Ziele. Nur über die richtigen Wege erreichen wir das Leben." (Alt, Franz, p. 82) - So let us use our freedom of choice to decide in favour of God's Creation and against terraforming, let us fight for the preservation of Earth's natural conditions, in order to save life on Earth and in order to prevent God's punishment in an apocalypse.
In psalm 49 it is made plain that God is the owner of the world and not man: "The God of gods, the Lord hath spoken: and he hath called the earth. From the rising of the sun, to the going down thereof: out of the Sion the loveliness of his beauty." (Psalm 49, 1-2) "For all the beasts of the woods are mine: the cattle on the hills, and the oxen. I know all the fowls of the air: and with me is the beauty of the field (...) for the world is mine, and the fulness thereof." (Psalm 49, 10-12)
So - let us solve our own problems on Earth sensibly according to a deep-seated faith in and respect for God's Creation - instead of colonizing other planets !
But nevertheless it is very, very probable that we will need a second ark and because we tampered with nature on Earth and on Mars it is very probable as well that we neither deserve nor get such a great chance to survive such a natural disaster, because we are by far not as good and pious as Noe and his family had been.
Messianic Empire or Apocalypse ?
Since the birth of Jesus Christ we have been living and are still living in a so-called "eschatologic tension", which means that the Messianic Empire has already begun, but has not yet been perfected or completed.
Although it is undefinable and inconceivable, Christians hope that it will be tolerant, human, peaceful and universal in its completion and that there will be neither harm, pain and sorrow, nor disease or death. Mankind hopes for God's justice and peace.
Nevertheless the Messianic Empire will be no theocracy and no empire, which is controlled by elites. So - it might offer everyone the possibility to achieve one's personal self-realization.
Isaias describes the Holy Messianic Empire like this:
c. f. Isaias 11, 1 - 9
But if we continue to pollute Earth and start to terraform Mars, will this tension be solved in such a positive way ?
Wouldn't it be much more probable that mankind gets punished according to John's vision of the Apocalypse ?
This Apocalypse from John predicts the end of our world with these words:
c. f. John 6; 7; 8; 9; 11, 15 – 19; 15, 1 - 8; 16
Although Isaias’ Messianic Empire raises our hopes, even Isaias gives also a pessimistic outlook:
c. f. Isaias 24
Which prediction will become true?
Well - we can decide, whether we act in a responsible way, in order to fulfill our duties or whether we tamper with nature in order to play God. We are responsible, because we have a consciousness and this obliges us to respect God's commandments and his Creation to avoid the Apocalypse and to be able to live in the Messianic Empire.
Alt admonishes: "Die Menschen haben sich selbst an die Stelle Gottes gesetzt, sie sind selbst in der Lage, die Schöpfung zu beenden." (Alt, Franz, p. 31)
The last sentence of the novel is Hiroko’s hopeful remark: “This is home. (…) This is where we start again.” (p. 572) Considering the biblical guiding principles this means that Hiroko and a few other people survived God’s fury and his punishment so that they have the chance to start new and to build up a new life afterwards.
But regarding our exaggerated opinion of ourselves it would neither be unrealistic nor inappropriate, if God punished us without giving us the chance to start new. So let us think about what we are doing and about the consequences our behaviour might have, because “(we) are the consciousness of the universe” (Sax, p. 178) and this obliges us to “worship(…) it with our attention.” (Ann, p. 179).