Why All the Space Ventures?
DID you know that one of the main reasons for man’s many space ventures is the search for life beyond the earth?
Scientists who believe in evolution contend that life must have evolved on some of the other planets throughout the boundless universe. They also hope that exploration of another planet will throw light on how life began on earth.
Also, many scientists suggest that the universe is likely now teeming with evolved intelligent beings. So the great search by evolutionists for extraterrestrial life goes on.
In fact, the search for life beyond the earth, says a report completed by the Space Science Board of the National Academy of Sciences, “is a scientific undertaking of the greatest validity and significance . . . its importance and the consequences for biology justify the highest priority among all objectives in space science—indeed in the space program as a whole.” Do you agree?
Of course, there are other prime reasons for man’s space ventures. Various scientific purposes are cited, such as the desire to know the composition of heavenly bodies, what the conditions are on various planets, and so forth.
Curiosity and the desire to do the “impossible” are also factors in man’s space exploration.
More to It than This
Actually, there is much more to man’s space ventures than the desire for scientific enlightenment, the search for life and man’s curiosity and desire to do the “impossible.” And what is that? Nationalistic prestige.
For example, America’s space program began in earnest after Russia put its Sputnik into orbit. Thus the writers of the book Journey to Tranquility say about the American space exploits:
“The project was born of calamity. It was begun as a hasty response to an immediate crisis: the crisis thought to have been brought about by Soviet space triumphs. . . . The decisive aspect of the threat, however, was its bearing on American prestige. This was the fear which impelled President Kennedy. . . . Prestige . . . added up to a belief that America could not afford to be beaten by the Russians. Prestige, in other words, was equated with power in the world, and the moon was seen as a medium through which worldly power might be increased.”
That prestige was a key motivating factor is evident from a memorandum of President John F. Kennedy dated April 20, 1961, to the United States vice-president, who was then chairman of the Space Council. President Kennedy asked:
“Do we have a chance of beating the Soviets by putting a laboratory in space, or by a trip around the moon, or by a rocket to land on the moon, or by a rocket to go to the moon and back with a man? Is there any other space program which promises dramatic results in which we could win?”
So the space race began, and thus far there have been over a thousand space exploits by the Soviet Union and the United States combined. Nationalistic prestige, then, has had a more direct bearing on space ventures than even the evolutionists’ search for life beyond the earth.
Doubts and Questions Raised
At the success of the Apollo moon missions and the safe return of the men involved, there was much praise for the accomplishment. President Nixon even remarked: ‘Can we not see God’s hand in it?’
However, there were doubts about the matter. For example, Time magazine of January 1, 1973, commented: “The fault in such a pronouncement [by President Nixon] lies in its assumption that the conquest of space is such an unalloyed good that God would deign to grant it some special protection. If motives were taken into account—especially the bald chauvinism that motivated so many who voted for Apollo appropriations—divine wrath rather than benevolence might have attended the project.”
Indeed, man’s space exploits have provoked a number of doubts and questions. One of the biggest questions is whether it was worth, for example, $25 billion to finance the Apollo moon program. What could that money have accomplished in helping to make conditions on earth more desirable? “Is scaling the moon the only ‘impossibility’ we can think of?” asks Amitai Etzioni in his book The Moon-Doggle. “The earth has never been free from starvation or war. Those anxious to engage ‘impossible’ challenges are welcome to try these.”
Doubts also exist, says this writer, about the relevancy of many scientific objectives, used for promoting space ventures: “Statements that space probes will tell us ‘how the universe ticks’ and ‘how life began on earth’ are an outrageous affront to straight thinking, a gaudy packaging of an interesting but far from sensational line of exploration.”
A related question that needs to be explored is whether it is worth the expenditure of vast sums of money in searching for evolved life on other planets. How wise or unwise is such a quest?
And, for purposes of nationalistic prestige, has the effort been worth it for the nations involved? Many in the United States think it has been worth $25 billion to plant the American flag on the moon six times. But not all agree. Say the writers of Journey to Tranquility: “Developments strongly suggest that, in the short-term impact which was sought from it, Project Apollo will be counted among the more palpable miscalculations of the twentieth century. Although the immediate task was performed perfectly, its ultimate objective was in ruins. Men took their step on the moon, but there was no giant leap in the drawing-power of the American way of life.”
But though America may not have got $25 billion worth of prestige from the Apollo program, it did give man a new understanding of the moon and forced him to revise some of his theories about it.