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40 years ago today

Forty years ago today, a human being walked on the moon. Since then, a total of 12 men have planted their feet on the lunar surface. NASA has an unmanned mission heading to the moon right now: LCROSS, which followed the launch and lunar arrival of the Lunar Reconnaissance Orbiter. According to Wikipedia, China and India are working on sending motorized landers to the moon in the next few years, and Russia has manned mission and moon base plans. The U.S. announced it's own plans for a manned mission and moon base a few years ago.

One of my childhood dreams was to be an astronaut. I still harbor those longings. To set foot on a world besides our own is a breathtaking prospect. These kinds of explorations elicit a deep sense of wonder in me, one I still find best articulated by this response from Richard J. Mouw (president of Fuller Theological Seminary and professor of Christian Philosophy) in 1997 when he was asked by a reporter what finding life on Mars would mean to Christianity:
Nothing in my theology rules out the possibility of living organisms on other planets.

He pushed further: "But suppose they discovered intelligent life. Doesn't it bother you to think that humans are not the only thinking beings in the cosmos?"

"No," I answered. "If such beings turn out to be unfallen, we would want to figure out ways to learn from them. If they are fallen, we would have to devise strategies to evangelize them."

He kept pushing. "But for you Christians, who take the Bible as the true revelation of
what reality is all about, doesn't the idea of many worlds throw your theology into a tailspin?"

Since I have learned much of my theology from hymns, I decided to quote one. I reminded the reporter that one of the most popular hymns sung at Billy Graham crusades is "How Great Thou Art." I quoted the first line: "O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds thy hands have made … "

This was no pious evasion. The hymn writer is making a profound theological point.

Creation is vast and complex. To consider God's awesome creating purposes is to be full of wonder. The Bible presents us with a "wonder-full" view of reality.

We need to cultivate this sense of wonder as we think about the meaning of scientific and technological advances. To be sure, not every "discovery" is something we ought to celebrate. Ancient errors and distortions regularly reappear in the disguise of "the new." But we will be best equipped to discern the genuine from the counterfeit if we are accustomed-not to a mood of fundamental worry—but to an experience of wonder that is grounded in a biblical perspective on reality.
That sense of wonder is what moves me when it comes to space exploration—be it on the Moon, Mars or far beyond. God’s creation draws me ever towards him. It rattles and stirs me at my very core—because it reminds me of him.

(Image: NASA)


Beth said…
Excellent post. One thing that really irked me in Torchwood: Children of Earth, Day 1, was the scene in which a character frets over a "Christian" who committed suicide because the discovery of alien life-forms destroyed her faith. She said "It's as if science won." I said, "Oh, right--it's as if science and Christianity are at war." This concept of "literalist" faith is so 400 years ago.
Carmen Andres said…
beth, i agree, it can get frustrating when science is seen as a destructor of faith in sci-fi.

btw, i missed Day 1 (saw Days 2 and 3); for some reason i just can't get into Torchwood this year--not sure why.