Tuesday, November 12, 2019 -
Print Edition

Yes, back to the moon — and Mars

In space exploration, a trio leapfrogs over every other human attainment.

Wonder.

Wisdom.

Mystery.

The wonder dates back to the uncharted prehistoric era when human beings first looked up into the starry night.

The wisdom is in the computers, phones and medical devices from which humanity benefits every day. They wouldn’t be here, at least in their level of sophistication, without the technology developed for space travel.

Mystery? Nothing need be said.

The 50th anniversary of the first human being on the moon has gratefully renewed interest in space exploration. President Trump (perhaps unrealistically) has called for the return of American astronauts to the moon by 2024, and has raised the dreamlike specter of a human being on Mars.

We endorse the importance of international collaboration in space as articulated by former space reporter Sue McMillan in the Denver Post. With more collaboration, she wrote, “all Earthlings might have benefitted because together we could have done more science, more exploration. We might have reached Mars by now.”

We never understood why the US cut NASA’s budget, even though we mourned the loss of 14 astronauts in the explosions of 1986 and 2003. No doubt, pragmatic arguments could have been raised against those explorers who first circumnavigated the globe, not to mention against the nerds and geeks who threw away their Harvard education to create Microsoft. To search for economic viability and immediate practical benefit from the human imagination as it explores the unknown is to kill the imagination. Mystery does not yield to human thirst for knowledge on the basis of knowledge already known. The unwise, pragmatic intervention in the inventive human quest is by definition constricting.

What better way to garner popular support for piercing the longstanding shut-down of the American space program than reruns of Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin stepping on the moon on July 21, 1969, making that giant leap for mankind?

The biblical book of Jonah is the only biblical book to end with a question. Jonah wanted to know why     G-d preferred repentance over punishment, but Jonah could not accept G-d’s answer, so G-d left off his final message to Jonah with a question. G-d wanted Jonah to think. G-d has been encouraging humanity to search for and find answers to the moral and physical mysteries in the universe ever since. Space exploration is part of that divine mandate.

Copyright © 2019 by the Intermountain Jewish News




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