Discussing
Space exploration as an act of worship

Josh Larsen

Jamesggilmore
July 7, 2011

Interesting that you mention this, because the Republicans in Congress want to significantly cut funding for NASA, in the process <a href="http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2011/07/07/congress-puts-nasa-and-jwst-on-the-chopping-block/" rel="nofollow">completely eliminating funding</a> for the James Webb Space Telescope, the successor to the Hubble which brought us all those beautiful images. Hubble isn't certain to be operational much past 2014. The JWST, when launched in 2018, "will see farther and in more detail than any space telescope ever built," according to the Phil Plait article I link to above.<br><br>Call your member of Congress today and tell them that space exploration shouldn't be on the chopping block. Given the hundreds of billions of dollars we're spending making war, the least we can do is spend a fraction of that to better understand the universe we inhabit.

Stevenson
July 7, 2011

Apart from the political-fiscal issue for the moment (I have nothing to say that hasn't been said by others many times before)...I'd rather address the underlying assumption of this article - the idea that anything which teaches us more about God's nature or character is a worthwhile subject for inquiry and exploration. The Bible might suggest otherwise. First, the Old Testament has many instances of God hiding things from our view - the Holy of Holies (never seen by anyone except the high priest, and even he entered in complete darkness), God hiding his face from Moses in Ex 33, and so forth.  And there's Ps 131:1 ("I do not concern myself with great matters or things too wonderful for me").  Dozens of Israelites died for looking curiously inside the Ark (1 Sam 6); the post above implies that curiosity is inherently virtuous and edifying, but these passages indicate that is not always true. There are some things God never intended for human eyes, even though those things could illustrate some aspect of the Creator.  We must admit that it is POSSIBLE that God never intended humans to see some things we find only by space exploration, but men forge ahead with their plans without asking His direction in this, as they did with peeking inside the Ark. Jesus rebuked Thomas for having faith inspired by what he could see (John 20).  Yet this article implies that worship-inspired-by-sight is always a nifty thing. <br><br>Finally, I'm underwhelmed by Wiseman's "lessons learned."  Each point is something believers already know and discuss often - God's love of beauty, patience, ongoing creativity - there is nothing new here, just more anecdotes of points already familiar. No real discovery for a believer.  Deists (who are rare today) would object that she mischaracterizes their views - they have a category for God's finished work continuing to change itself (even on earth this happens with volcanoes, earthquakes, glaciers, etc.).  Worse, many of these are in the eye of the beholder, and an atheist would interpret each of these differently, perhaps as evidence AGAINST the God of the Bible.  Personally, I look at the photo and see something messy and ugly, like a slug melting on the sidewalk after being doused with salt; I don't see pretty swirling fish.  I can, however, see lovely swarming fish at my local aquarium without spending billions of dollars.

Jamesggilmore
July 7, 2011

Throughout Scripture, though, when God doesn't want people seeing things, God reveals it pretty explicitly through <i>special</i> revelation; the curiosity of those who looked inside the Ark and died was to see something that God had very explicitly said wasn't for human consumption, and God was more than clear about God hiding God's face from Moses in Exodus. When God doesn't want you to see something, God will let you know in no uncertain terms.<br><br>Please show me where in special revelation you see any explicit indication that God might not intend for us to explore outer space.<br><br>Quite simply, beyond any devotional reflections, I believe that scientific inquiry is a good in and of itself—that learning more about the universe is something God desires for us.<br><br>Furthermore, the extent to which space exploration has taught us about ourselves and our planet—things like analyses of lunar materials that reveal more about the Earth's origins, or the view of other planets like Venus that underwent massive greenhouse effects making them unsuitable for life, help us understand where we've come from and where we might be headed. <br><br>Additionally, the views space exploration has offered us of our own planet—in iconic photographs like the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Blue_Marble" rel="nofollow">Blue Marble</a> or the <a href="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Pale_Blue_Dot" rel="nofollow">Pale Blue Dot</a>, in satellite photos of environmentally-damaged areas, and in analyses of our atmosphere and climate that can only be achieved from orbit—have helped us understand our place in the universe, the fragility of life on Earth, and the potential hazards posed by environmental degradation.<br><br>(Not to mention that space exploration has also led to the network of satellites surrounding the earth that enable things like cellphones, GPS, and worldwide news broadcasts to work.)

Rickd
July 7, 2011

I’m not sure I would use these exceptions to discourage curiosity. God explicitly told the Israelites what was inside the ark of the covenant but then proscribed how it was to be handled. You don’t peak inside the core of a nuclear reactor either, it has consequences. God wanted to reveal himself to Moses but Moses was in the flesh at the time and looking on God’s face would have killed him. Adam and Eve were explicitly forbidden from eating of the tree of the knowledge of Good and Evil because it would kill them. They were forbidden to eat from the tree of life until they were made righteous by God. There are no such bans about exploring space, exploring physics, exploring undersea, exploring medicine. <br><br>God is fascinated by our curiosity and creativity, after all we are His creation. After creating Adam, God brought all the animals to Adam “to see what he would call them” . Adam developed a nomenclature, rules of categorization, exhibited abstract reasoning skills and creativity in developing names. Jesus exhorted us to look for signs in the heavens. The wise men followed the star to Bethlehem. I think the Father is glorified by our enhanced abilities to appreciate the scope and detail and complexity of His creation. Any father would be. Peter says that even angels long (wish they had the ability, aptitude, reasoning and revelation) to look into certain mysteries. “It was revealed to them that they were not serving themselves but you, when they spoke of the things that have now been told you by those who have preached the gospel to you by the Holy Spirit sent from heaven. Even angels long to look into these things.” I feel sorry for the person that can look at a truly awe-inspiring celestial architecture that utilizes color, light, harmony, Incomprehensible distance, energy, coordinated movement and graphic design and see only ugliness. Surely God is pleased by our ability to intuit a creative hand behind the complexity of astronomical design. As David the Shepherd-King wrote in Psalms 19; “The heavens proclaim the glory of God. The skies display his craftsmanship. Day after day they continue to speak; night after night they make him known. They speak without a sound or word; their voice is never heard. Yet their message has gone throughout the earth, and their words to all the world.”

Jay
July 8, 2011

It boggles my mind when the US space program  gets hit with cuts.<br>In 1971,on a beautiful sunny Florida day,I saw the Apollo Saturn 5 rocket sitting out on the launch pad.Being on vacation,we could not hang around for the actual lift-off. It must have been rolled out,going through pre-fight checks.That memory is still alive to this day.<br>Due to,imagine that,Nixon`s Republican party cut funding that cancelled the final 3 Apollo missions to the moon.<br><br>The famous Apollo "earthrise" photograph,in itself shows the wonder of<br>Gods creation.A blue-white planet in a sea of dark space.<br><br>Space exploration is a positive and creative thing.It is a bargain when you compare it to the costs of war.(last count,the US spend 300 billion a year)<br><br>In my lifetime,I hope to see America return to the moon......and beyond.

Betty Taylor
July 8, 2011

Dont' think the shuttle program has God in mind. Evolutionists would like to find things that supposedly suppport their philosophy.

Betty Taylor
July 8, 2011

"A five-year survey of 200,000 galaxies, stretching back seven billion years in cosmic time, has led to one of the best independent confirmations that dark energy is driving our universe apart at accelerating speeds. The survey used data from NASA's space-based Galaxy Evolution Explorer and the Anglo-Australian Telescope on Siding Spring Mountain in Australia."  <a href="http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pages/galex/galex20110519.html" rel="nofollow">http://www.nasa.gov/mission_pa...</a> Why are we spending billions to promote evolution??

Rickd
July 8, 2011

Betty, what if God directed an evolutionary process to bring about life? What if those 6 days are ages as many of the early church fathers taught? What if the book of Genesis fits perfectly with the latest findings of science? What if there is overwhelming evidence establishing the age of the universe being 13.5 billion years old? What if we find numerous civilization sites, cities, records, sculpture, that are older than 10,000 years? What if the evidence is as iron clad as the earth revolving around the sun, not the reverse as the book of Joshua claims? Do we ban science, burn science books, burn archaeologists books, bury those cities under sand? Do we ignore data? Is there any room in your position for alternative interpretations of scriptures?

Josh Larsen
TC Staff
July 8, 2011

Although I don't want to let us get sidetracked, I should point out that plenty of Christians are comfortable with evolutionary theory, as understood in a theistic context (<a href="http://bit.ly/qSQWvO)" rel="nofollow">http://bit.ly/qSQWvO)</a>. For those believers, any scientific discoveries made along such lines - via space exploration or other endeavors - would be considered further evidence of God's creativity, provision, etc. And to circle back to the main thrust of my post, I feel such knowledge can only enrich our worship.

Jamesggilmore
July 8, 2011

We're spending billions of dollars to promote and further <i>science.</i><br><br>The fact that every single iota of scientific evidence we have argues against young-earth creationism does not mean that we should stop promoting, funding, or engaging in scientific exploration.<br><br>Rather, it should cause young-earth creationists to question whether their interpretation of Scripture is incorrect.

Jamesggilmore
July 8, 2011

They have a pretty easy time doing it too, considering that their "philosophy" is the one that lines up with each and every bit of scientific evidence we gather, and the false "philosophy" of young-earth creationism is supported by exactly no credible scientific evidence.

Gavin
July 9, 2011

Plenty of Christians are comfortable with evolutionary theory? Not likely. Plenty of apostates perhaps. The leading "Christian" authors who peddle these ideas are wolves and intellectual posers who refuse to take God at his word. Clearly, theistic evolution was endorsed by Barack Obama when he tapped Francis Collins for a top job two years ago. And back in 2008, Obama called himself a "devout Christian" while also emphasizing that he believes in evolution (see CNN transcript, April 13, 2008).<br>

Steve King
July 16, 2016

Beautiful article brother. God Bless.

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