People like me who would like to be among the first people to travel to Mars and eventually colonize the red planet are more concerned with the technical aspects of colonizing the planet.
Almost everybody is talking about the technical aspect of colonizing Mars — how to increase the level of oxygen in the atmosphere of Mars, how to warm up Mars, how we’ll transport food from Earth to Mars or perhaps how we’ll grow food on Mars (using hydroponic systems), among other necessities for colonizing Mars. However, fewer people are talking about how our social life on Mars will look like. This has left the narrative of colonizing Mars to merely sound like a mission of creating Earth-like environment on another planet, transporting people to the planet, and letting the people figure out their social lives. We’re social animals, and whenever we’re talking about inhabiting a new environment, we need to put into perspective the social aspects of human life — such as religion.
Dear wanna-be Mars colonizers,
As we’re packing our bags and preparing to leave for Mars, should we also carry with us the Bibles, the Qurans, and the Vedas? Or we don’t need religions on Mars?
This is a question that popped up in my mind about a month ago, and I thought I can write an article to try to answer the question.
In the Middle Ages, Holy scriptures were really, really relevant. The Holy scriptures helped guide the deeds of people in societies. Also, the scriptures played [and still play] a vital role in the unification of humankind — religion has given humanity a series of guidelines to follow and shaped the meaning of human life; attaining enlightenment, enjoying eternal life. In fact, according to Yuval Noah Harari in his international bestseller, Sapiens, alongside invention of money and formation of empires, the religion is the third greatest unifier of humankind.
But that was that time…
As we’ve seen in the recent past, religion has complicated issues in the world — it has led to separation & segregation of people, mass killings of people, and fights for power. Religion has also failed to answer some of the most critical questions of the 21st century. Can religion help us find realistic solutions to global warming or cyber warfare? For more context, let’s look at the two categories of the problems we’re currently facing:
- Technical problems — How will early colonizers of Mars deal with a severe shortage of water or extremely harsh climatic conditions on the red planet?
- Policy problems — How should the structure of laws and legal systems look like on Mars? Will governance on Mars follow Elon Musk’s prediction?— “…the form of government on Mars would be something of a direct democracy…where people vote directly on issues instead of going through [the] representative government.”
As you can see, religion can’t help us answer the following questions. Why then should we carry Bibles, Qurans, and Vedas to Mars? Partially analyzed, carrying the Holy scriptures to Mars is almost similar as carrying a deadly disease or contaminant to the planet; they’ll only segregate people, deny people the opportunity to fully be themselves, be creative, be innovative, and find better ways of thriving on the red planet.
What will give life meaning on Mars?
Can we live without religion? Is it really possible? That’s the hard question that we need to answer before attempting to not include Bibles, Qurans, and Vedas in our backpacks for travelling to Mars. Despite the fact that religion has separated people, led to hatred among different religious groups, and mass killings, it has played a very vital role not only in unifying humanity but also in shaping the life of humans and giving human’s life meaning.
Attaining enlightenment, enjoying eternal life are the ultimate goals of believers. To achieve these, they are supposed to live by the scriptures and spread the word of their respective supreme beings. The true meaning of life for the believers has therefore been to memorize and live by the scriptures and spread the teachings of the scriptures.
As we realized earlier, religion can’t help provide realistic solutions to the current technical and policy problems, rendering even further the noteworthiness for it in another planet that will be inspired by the next stage of human development.
Is there any better alternative for religion on Mars?
It is nearly impossible to change the religious belief of all those who would colonizer Mars. The best way to make sure that people remain themselves, practising their creativity, and unleashing their full potential is to introduce ideas that aim at helping people understand themselves better. Definitely, the ideas will be fused with some ideas which already exist in the Holy books. For example, meditation (from Buddhism) will still be the basis for mind mastery. Introducing Stoic philosophy will be a great idea to ensure a harmonious living for the early Mars colonizers.
To get you started with Stoic philosophy, there are some good books to get you started:
Meditations by Marcus Aurelius
Discourses and Selected Writings by Epictetus
Letters from a Stoic by Seneca
The Obstacle Is The Way by Ryan Holiday
The Daily Stoics by Ryan Holiday and Stephen Hanselman
Food for thought
“Morality doesn’t mean ‘following divine commands.’ It means ‘reducing suffering.’” ~ Yuval Noah Harari.
Any behaviour or act that is considered violent or negative originates from a person’s mind and the act firstly disturbs the thinker’s peace and happiness even before he/she executes the act to disturb another person’s peace and happiness. “Hence before you murder anyone”, Yuval Noah Harari wrote, “your anger has already killed your own peace of mind.”
To successfully colonize Mars…
To successfully colonize Mars, we need to create curricula and teach our kids and young people the necessary skills — the curricula that will introduce learners to the technologies, skills, and mindsets that will get them to space. And the curricula need to contain content that can help us get jobs and make money here on earth.