Written by Sp’Rark, Cultural Editor of the Martian Muckraker
Nothing shook the religious foundations of Ancient Mars more than the discovery of Earthlings.
For generations Martians regarded Mars as an Oasis in an otherwise uninhabited universe. Then scientists started hearing the transmissions from Earth.
Two planets, Mars and Earth. Practically sisters. Each oblivious to the life on the other. And many were determined to keep it that way.
“The Guardians of the Mutated Muse believed that acknowledging the existence of Earthlings would unravel Martian society,” says Professor of Interstellar Religion, Dr. Fang. The Guardians of the Mutated Muse are a subject of immense academic interest to him.
“After the old kings of Mars fell, the Guardians were the chief source of religious and political power on Mars” Professor Fang said. “In their cosmology, a constantly Mutating Muse sung the universe into existence. With each transformation her song would change causing the cosmos to collapse and be reborn. The Guardians believed they could, through their sacrifices, prevent further mutations and thus extend the existence of the current universe. In their view, Martians were especially created to stop the constant cycle of the dying universe by preventing the cosmic muse from mutating yet again.”
The existence of Earthlings through that all into doubt. If the Earthlings were believed to be newly created, it would mean that the Guardians had failed prevent the feared transformation of the universe. If the Earthlings were not newly created, it would mean that The Songs of the Muse, the holy texts of the Guardians, contained errors.
“The Discovery of the Earthlings came at a fragile time for the Guardians,” Professor Fang said. “The Knights of the Immutable and the Chained Ones, rival spiritual groups to the Guardians wanted substantial political reforms to the ancient Martian society. Many outcast groups hated paying tribute to the Guardians when their needs were not being protected. Many scientists tried to leak the evidence for the existence of Earthlings to the press but most were all silenced, sometimes brutally.”
“The Crater Muckraker, in many ways the predecessor to today’s Martian Muckraker forced the issue,” Fang says. They released numerous recordings of Earthling radio signals to the public prompting a planet-wide crisis of faith. Martians were not alone in the universe. They were not the superior life form.
“In many old photos you see people carrying signs saying ‘Earthlings Are Fake News’ and ‘Earth: Uninhabitable’,” Fang says.
It was then that the Knights of the Immutable and The Guardians of the Muse started breaking out into war. The Guardians wanted to suppress all knowledge of the Earthlings (by lasers blasters if necessary) and started using force fields to block radio transmissions from Earth. The Knights, lead by the rebel Dy’vida and supported by the Chained Ones, started to sabotage those force fields.
Eventually the truth was too obvious to ignore. Earthlings were real and the poets of the spiritual realm were going to need to face that fact. “The Guardians having fought to suppress the truth collapsed as a spiritual order and the Knights of the Immutable came to provide spiritual solace to the Martian people,” Professor Fang says.
“There is a great irony that the faith that held belief in a “mutating muse” chose to be so resistant to change and the Knights who clung to an ‘Immutable’ came to embrace a paradigm shifting discovery. But in some ways it makes sense. By having faith in an Unchanging that transcended the universe, the knights were able to build a spirituality that did not need the universe to stay still. Precisely by clinging to something they believed could be a constant in a ‘sea of endless quantum flux’, they were able to have the strength to face change,” Professor Fang says.
Professor Fang himself is a Chained One, currently a minority faith on Mars. The believers swear an Oath to “wear chains until none wear chains.” Spiritually, Chained Ones believe in an infinite collection of Angels who fight over the multiverse whereas the Knights of the Immutable meditate on “a single unchanging light, that illuminates all the various colors of the changing universe.”
Both faiths now allow non-Martian species to join their ranks, a fact that Fang, a Werevian immigrant, is grateful for.
This is a work of fiction and en exercise in world building for Camp NaNoWriMo. The religious movements in this post are not meant represent real-world groups.