Konrad Szocick, a cognitive scientist and a professor of philosophy at the University of Technology Rzeszow in Poland, suggests that future Mars colonists are going to need something besides air, water, food, and shelter if they are going to survive and thrive on the Red Planet. They are going to need religious faith to help them find a reason to live in the harsh conditions that are present on Mars. The interesting aspect of Szocick’s suggestion is that the Mars religion has to be somehow created. One wonders about all of the other religions that already exist, some of which have comforted groups of people who have found it necessary to immigrate to a new place.

Journeying to the Promised Land.

The first group of people who made their way to a Promised Land was the children of Israel, led by Moses out of Egypt where they had been kept as slaves. The Book of Exodus tells how the Israelites wandered in the Sinai desert for 40 years before crossing the Jordan River to establish a new country in what is now modern Israel. The story of Exodus has a more modern version that consists of Jews from all over the world moving to the same land and establishing the current State of Israel.

More recently, the Puritans, Christians from England, established a colony near Plymouth Rock in modern Massachusetts and, after a period of privation, became a thriving community.

The first Thanksgiving occurred at the Plymouth colony. Even more recently, members of the newly formed Church of Christ of Latter Day Saints, known commonly as the Mormons, were obliged to flee persecution in Missouri and make a grueling trek to where they established a separate community on the shores of the Great Salt Lake in Utah.

Exodus to Mars.

Szocick’s idea of creating a religion specifically for Mars seems to be an idea that won’t work in practice. People do not join religions as part of a sociology experiment in wilderness survival. They enter a faith as a way to become part of something greater than themselves, to try to gain an understanding of questions that science cannot answer, and to adhere to a moral code backed up by divine will.

On the other hand, one can imagine a group of religious people pulling up stakes and heading to Mars so that they might live in a society of their choosing and not one imposed by a secular state. William Bradford understood this principle as did Brigham Young. If a Mars colony has a common religious faith, it has to grow organically and not, as Szocick suggests, as part of the design of the settlement along with the recycling systems and the radiation shields. Faith, in short, comes from the heart and not from the brain.