Norman Mailer, describing Apollo 11 landing on the moon in his book A Fire on the Moon, observes, “The notion that man voyaged out to fulfill the desire of God was either the heart of the vision, or an anathema to that true angel in Heaven they would violate by the fires of their ascent.” Religious reflection has never been considered Mailer’s forte, yet these words suggest a perception that has escaped many theologians. Events today tend to support the view that God’s plan for man included space exploration.

President Nixon sounded a somewhat similar note when he tried to place the Apollo 11 landing in historical context by stating in his welcome to the returning astronauts that the week of July 20, 1969, was “the greatest … since the beginning of the world, the Creation.” If the manned lunar landing does indeed support opinions like these, then by now the significance of that event should have been felt throughout our society. The two years since then should have given us the chance to observe any change in our lives that might be traceable to the moon landing. I’d like to discuss just one aspect of this—the spiritual changes that I think have their origin in the space program or have evolved from the lunar landing and exploration by man.

At the time a manned landing on the moon was first proposed, some thinking persons, including a few theologians, were firmly opposed to the idea. There was a feeling that for man to go to the moon would be to challenge God, to attempt to usurp his authority. These persons believed that earth was the realm of man, that space was God’s domain, and that these boundaries were fixed for all time. They cited Genesis 11:1–9, the ...

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