Paul Davies is a professor of natural philosophy at the Australian Center for Astrobiology, at Macquarie University, in Sydney. Last year, he wrote an excellent article for Atlantic Monthly called E.T. and God in which he showed that the discovery of life elsewhere in the universe - like, say, a fossilized bacterium on Mars - could prompt some serious thinking for the more religious among us, perhaps even theological crises for some.
With Spirit taking high-res pics on Mars now and with all the talk of missions to Mars, Davies' piece certainly proves timely. And wouldn't it be ironic if a program initiated by George W. Bush became a catalyst for the advancement of secular thought?