The Sands of Mars

In the past, I have written on the subject of ‘Faith and the Suspension of Disbelief‘. The ability to accept and enjoy fantasy stories also confers on us the ability to believe more easily the stories we read about Jesus in the Bible, and the testimonies we hear from people who have encountered God in a special way.

We have another ability as humans, too. It’s the sense of Awe and Wonder. God is amazingly awesome and supremely wonderful – in that He’s full of Wonder. If we think about Him and His love for any amount of time, we find ourselves standing in awe and wonder at how amazing He is.

I want to share a picture with you that I find absolutely remarkable. Similarly to pictures in the post I made recently about various astronomical ideas, this photo too evokes in me a strong sense of awe and wonder.

This is a photo taken on the surface of Mars, by the Mars exploration rover ‘Opportunity‘. (You can see the original image and full commentary here).

Think about what that means for a moment. This photograph was taken on the surface of another planet. The camera was made on Earth and sent to Mars on an unbelievably clever piece of machinery, taking a good couple of years to get there. Then using more amazing technology, the camera was landed on Mars on a really clever little robot* which is even now, as I write this, driving around the surface of that alien planet just like something out of Star Trek, taking pictures like this one.

In this age where everything seems taken for granted, and incredibly awesome things are used for evil purposes – like how text messaging and Facebook are used to hurt others – I still find it incredible that people can be blasé about an image like this. This is incredible wonder and awe, right here in front of us. It’s another part of God’s Creation, where no human has yet set foot, but which we can explore by proxy by sending an incredible robotic probe hundreds of millions of miles to go and have a look round on our behalf. And God has given we humans the desire, the drive, the ability and the skills to make this happen. God is said to have made humans in His image. How well does this fabulous photo show us that indeed we are capable of such amazing feats; surely we are indeed made in the image of God!

Now is that not something incredible?


I realise that my title for this piece is also the title of a classic science fiction book by my late hero, the writer and futurist Sir Arthur C. Clarke. I just thought it evocative, so I used it, although I remembered shortly afterwards that Clarke had already coined the phrase. I like to create good titles for my blog pieces; it just so happened that this one had already been invented. Sorry, Sir Arthur, but also thanks…


*The Opportunity explorer has been working on the surface of Mars for longer than thirteen years, having been designed to function for only 90 days. For more information on this remarkable little robot, visit the Wikipedia page about it.

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