The Responsibility Handed Down by Apollo

I have been used to getting visits to my blog every day from searches about the Moon landings because of the short piece I wrote one year ago today. While everybody focuses on the the big round numbers when it comes to civic anniversaries, I have kept focus on the achievements of the Apollo program even through the leaner times. With everybody writing for the last week or more about the 40th anniversary of the first lunar landing, I doubt very many people will pass this way.

I have been caught up in the hype as well, taking advantage of the various Internet opportunities to remember Apollo 11. I have used We Choose the Moon from the JFK Presidential Library. I have read along with the transcripts of the mission tapes from NASA as I listened to the real-time (+40 years) streaming audio. The BBC News Channel covered the news briefing today in Washington DC attended by Walt Cunningham, Jim Lovell, Dave Scott, Buzz Aldrin, Charlie Duke, Tom Stafford, and Gene Cernan. Even as I am writing this, the Ron Howard documentary In the Shadow of the Moon is on Channel 4.

Neil and Buzz may have been the first to walk on the Moon, but the Apollo program was full of firsts. The entire program could have been completed (instead of cutting out the final three missions) and they would not have run out of firsts. Sadly, TV audiences get bored so Congress started thinking about how much more money it could appropriate to more worthy causes, like blowing up villages and rice paddies in Vietnam controlled by people with the wrong political ideas. Why continue to advance the edges of scientific understanding on a cosmic scale when you can buy more napalm?

Buzz Aldrin’s new memoir was timed to come out at the same time as the 40th anniversary. He has been making the rounds on a promotional tour, using the opportunity to push his view that we should leave the Moon behind and go straight to Mars. When I watched today’s briefing, I saw just how forcefully his pushes this idea. Most of the other living Apollo astronauts seem to favour returning to the Moon as a staging point for perfecting base-building on a non-terrestrial body before going on to the Red Planet.

As much as I want to see missions to Mars in my lifetime, and as smart as Buzz is, there is still so much to be learned from our only known natural satellite. We need to go own the Moon, so to speak. Not in the legal sense – I think the Outer Space Treaty of 1967 is a good thing (not to be confused with the unratified Moon Treaty of 1979 which is completely bonkers) – but use of the Moon needs to be fully established. It would be so much more useful than that floating white elephant known as the International Space Station. The Moon has resources to be tapped that could make a dramatic difference to life on Earth without there being any chance of damaging the Moon itself.

I was struck by once again by Jim Lovell’s revelation that from the Moon you can put the whole Earth behind your thumb. Other astronauts have talked about how tiny and fragile it looks from 240,000 miles away. Writing 3,000 years ago, the singer-songwriter David ben Jesse could not have imagined the how much more meaningful his words would become in December 1968 when Bill Anders took the famous Earth-rise photo from Apollo 8.

earthrise

When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained,
What is man that You are mindful of him,
And the son of man that You visit him?

That God cares about a tiny blue planet suspended in space is amazing enough. That out of all the universe He came down and became man and shared in our suffering is mind boggling. That we have the technology to go beyond this planet to explore the wonder and value of His creation is a responsibility that should not be ignored.

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Palin’s Creationism Hurts Obama’s Chances

So it’s not bad enough that Sarah Palin is pro-life, she is a creationist? She may even support the teaching of Intelligent Design. The liberal blogosphere is in a tizzy. How could such a person be running for Vice President?

They somehow think this is going to be a negative. In all of their haughtiness, they forget that most Americans are creationists. According the a 2005 CBS poll, only 15% of respondents believe humans evolved without God being involved. 51% said God created humans in their present form. For creationists and other ID proponents, Palin’s views only confirm her credentials.

Despite the hopes of the shrieking Left, Palin’s views will not drive any voters away.

The issues was made directly relevant to voter preferences by a CBS poll in the aftermath of the 2004 election. It found that 47% of Kerry voters believe that God created humans in their present form. Another 28% of Kerry voters believed in God-guided evolution. 56% of Kerry voters wanted Creationism and evolution taught in schools.  24% of Kerry voters wanted Creationism taught instead of evolution.

Clearly if Obama is going to be more successful than Kerry and actually win, he will need the support of creationists and ID proponents. I am very happy for his supporters in the blogosphere (or anywhere else for that matter) to continue mocking them and deriding them. Alienate them – please.  It just further demonstrates that Obama’s beliefs and values are not those of middle America.

39

It was 39 years ago today that Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin landed on the Moon. It will be another 12 years before anyone goes back.

I’ve just never understood that. I know there’s a lot of money involved, but the overall benefits of Lunar research far outweigh the costs. I was five years old at the time of the first landing and I’ll be 55 before the next one.

After Columbus reached the new World, what if the Spanish (or any other European power) had waited 50 years to go back? Or to put it into a better perspective – one of technological advancement – it would be like waiting from Columbus until Charles Lindberg to cross the Atlantic again.

How much opportunity has already been lost? How could this world have been different if that one had been used effectively?

Moral Backbone and Bankruptcy

I haven’t written anything here about the upcoming vote on the Human Embryology Bill, though I have been commenting at length elsewhere.

Once again there is no lack of vitriol aimed at the Church, especially the Roman Church. So many people don’t want the Church pronouncing upon public policy, as if there was some sort of separation between the two. Since public policy is about choosing right and wrong paths of action and the Church is about instructing concerning which paths of human action are right and wrong, it would appear to the naked eye that this Church is doing exactly what it is supposed to be doing. Secularists seem to be of the clouded view that ethics can somehow be divorced from morality and exist in a vacuum.

When attack the Church, these secularists seems to have no regard for facts. I was looking at a BBC World Service blog which poses the question “Where do you draw the line in scientific research?” and marvelled at usual at some of the comments: “Not wanting the Church to repeat a Galileo who died for saying that the world revolve around the sun.” He was killed for it? Really? (No.) “Let’s not forget the persecution Galileo, Leonardo and other geniuses who dared to challenge the status quo.” Leonardo? When was he persecuted? And who are the other geniuses?

When they run out of facts, they resort to ad hominem. “The faithful are morally and philosophically bankrupt!
They should not have a say!”

Despite all of this, some people are listening to what the Church has to say. In a rare show of moral backbone, even some Catholic members of the Cabinet have revolted. Gordon Brown has been faced with losing a significant number of ministers or backing down and allow a free vote. But given the true moral bankruptcy of the country, he has allies on Opposition benches, possibly including Conservative leader David Cameron. If there is any ethical waffling involved, he can probably rely on the Liberal Democrats as well.

Missing the Point of Lent

I sat down to write something else, but I checked my email and an saw one of the most ridiculous things in the history of Christianity. I say that realising that there have been some pretty ridiculous things.

The Anglican bishops of Liverpool and London have decided that it is not enough to give up chocolate for Lent. That Anglicans give up chocolate for Lent should tell you something about how far they’ve drifted from Holy Tradition, but I suppose they’re a step better than those who have given up Lent altogether. So maybe you are thinking the good bishops are moving in a positive direction. Wrong.

The Rt Revs James Jones and Richard Chartres want us to give up carbon. Not all carbon, mind you, given that we are carbon-based life-forms. And not actually the eating of carbon – or anything else for that matter. No, it’s much more convoluted than that. They want us to give up a light bulb. Here’s how it works: Light bulbs require electricty; electricity has to be produced; producing eletricity result in the emission of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere; Al Gore says that’s bad.

Put differently, the Bishop of Liverpool’s logic is this, “It is the poor who are already suffering the effects of climate change. To carry on regardless of their plight is to fly in the face of Christian teaching.” The poor are suffering the effect of climate change? Seems to me the warmer weather makes it easier to sleep rough. People in substandard housing with poor insulation are paying less for heating. How are the poor suffering?

I’m not particular good at doing Lent (which for Orthodox Christians doesn’t start until March 10), but I won’t be using it for making a political statement based upon specious science. I hope you won’t either.

The Dark Side

I am an enthusiast for any sort of space exploration, and I find it particularly exciting when we see something that has never been seen before. It’s been out there since the creation of the solar system, just waiting to be seen. For eyes that can see, it has been waiting all of these years to demonstrate the glory of God.

mercury-small.jpg

That’s a new view of the planet Mercury, with its stark hostile environment. I don’t know every way that it reveals the glory of God, but it does let you think about how special the earth is – set exactly where it needs to be to sustain life

For more pictures, visit the Messenger website.

Searching for Mike

Once again I have been getting lots of traffic from various Mike Huckabee searches. It is interesting to see the sort of searches that bring people to my blog. So far today it has included “huckbee + gay rights”, “Mike Huckabee theocrat”, “huckabee theocrat”, “Michael huckabee”, “mike huckbee evolution”, and “mike huckbee immigration”.

Seems a lot of folks are worried about Mike, afraid he is going to persecute gays, ban the teaching of evolution, and do all sort of other dastardly theocratic things. Of course he’s never suggested these things.

The closest thing might be when in 1992 he suggested that those with AIDS should be quarrantined. Since AIDS was generally associated with the gay community due to the nature of the transmission of the disease, particularly in the early days, I suppose this could be considered a persecution of gays.

Most Americans don’t believe in evolution, so like the majority of the electorate, Mike Huckabee is a creationist. Of course the liberal elite (even those who call themselves Fiscal Conservatives) can’t imagine that someone who holds high political office actually holds the same views as the unwashed masses. This is really why they can’t stand Mike. Politicians all talk about being public servants – but they don’t really mean it.

The only weakness I see is the immigration issue. There seem to be an awful lot of people for whom immigration is a very hot button issue. Mike is trying very hard to be anti-immigrant as possible, while still obeying the directive to love his neighbour as himself. It is certainly a hard row to hoe. If he shows a Christ-like attitude toward immigrants it could cost him the votes of many of his natural constituents who are anti-abortion, favour the traditional family, and don’t believe in evolution.