The captain nodded. "Tell me about your civilization here," he said, waving his hand at the mountain towns.
"They knew how to live with nature and get along with nature. They didn't try too hard to be all men and no animal. That's the mistake we made when Darwin showed up. We embraced him and Huxley and Freud, all smiles. And then we discovered that Darwin and our religions didn't mix. Or at least we didn't think they did, We were fools. We tried to budge Darwin and Huxley and Freud. They wouldn't move very well. So, like idiots, we tried knocking down religion.
"We succeeded pretty well. We lost our faith and went around wondering what life was for. If art was no more than a frustrated outflinging of desire, if religion was no more than self-delusion, what good was life? Faith had always given us answers to all things. But it all went down the drain with Freud and Darwin. We were and still are a lost people."
"And these Martians are a _found_ people?" inquired the captain.
"Yes. They knew how to combine science and religion so the two worked side by side, neither denying the other, each enriching the other."
"That sounds ideal."
"It was. I'd like to show you how the Martians did it."
"My men are waiting."
"We'll be gone half an hour. Tell them that, sir."
The captain hesitated, then rose and called an order down the hill.
Spender led him over into a little Martian village built all of cool perfect marble. There were great friezes of beautiful animals, white-limbed cat things and yellow-limbed sun symbols, and statues of bull-like creatures and statues of men and women and huge fine-featured dogs.
"There's your answer, Captain."
"I don't see."
"The Martians discovered the secret of life among animals. The animal does not question life. It lives. Its very reason for living_is_ life; it enjoys and relishes life. You see--the statuary, the animal symbols, again and again."
"It looks pagan."
"On the contrary, those are God symbols, symbols of life. Man had become too much man and not enough animal on Mars too. And the men of Mars realized that in order to survive they would have to forgo asking that one question any longer: _Why live?_ Life was its own answer. Life was the propagation of more life and the living of as good a life is possible. The Martians realized that they asked the question 'Why live at all?' at the height of some period of war and despair, when there was no answer. But once the civilization calmed, quieted, and wars ceased, the question became senseless in a new way. Life was now good and needed no arguments."
"It sounds as if the Martians were quite naive."
"Only when it paid to be naive. They quit trying too hard to destroy everything, to humble everything. They blended religion and art and science because, at base, science is no more than an investigation of a miracle we can never explain, and art is an interpretation of that mirade. They never let science crush the aesthetic and the beautiful. It's all simply a matter of degree. An Earth Man thinks: 'In that picture, color does not exist, really. A scientist can prove that color is only the way the cells are placed in a certain material to reflect light. Therefore, color is not really an actual part of things I happen to see.' A Martian, far cleverer, would say: "This is a fine picture. It came from the hand and the mind of a man inspired. Its idea and its color are from life. This thing is good.'"