DEAR ASTRONAUTS BORMAN, LOVELL, AND ANDERS:

Your Christmas trip to the moon needs an evangelical booster. Before you blast off, tack this note next to your fuel gauges as a reminder of the energetic prayer support you’ll get from Christians around the world.

Not that all churchmen are behind you. Today’s physics and metaphysics stand far enough apart that many wonder whether this trip is really necessary, or right. Despite all the contemporary clamor for Christian relevance, few of the Church’s intelligentsia have ventured any serious study of the moral ramifications of space travel. Ignorance breeds suspicion, and we have it in both pulpit and pew in a dimension that crosses theological lines.

The critics ask whether humanity can justify enormous space expenditures while so many earthbound dwellers suffer from the lack of basic necessities. They cite the risk of cosmic contamination, and the international tensions that go along with the space race. They lament the military overtones. And they wonder what there is to gain besides a Pandora’s box of new problems if life is found on some extraterrestrial body.

Some Christian leaders have very deep reservations about the whole space program. They question man’s motive in this endeavor. Some say it grows out of national pride. Others have attributed it to pure selfishness.

One of our leading religious editors, Dr. Sherwood E. Wirt of Decision magazine, author of a recent book on Christian social ethics, is very blunt. He accepts our “toying with the moon” but considers interplanetary travel “a waste of time and contrary to the will of God.” “It would be criminal to go to another planet,” he says. “People aren’t made for that. God wants us to live here on earth until he gives us another ...

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