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 body.”

From a Christian perspective, no one has written more extensively about space travel than the late C. S. Lewis. When queried on specifics, however, Lewis would only say that he dreaded contact with other inhabited planets. He once told Dr. Wirt in an interview, “We would only transport to them all of our sin and our acquisitiveness, and establish a new colonialism.”

This will strike you astronauts as a bit much. Be assured that dissent is not the whole of Christian thought on the matter. There are those who believe the Bible to be God’s Word to man and who find space travel readily compatible with this revelation. The biblical view does not insist upon divine grace that is earthbound.

As a matter of fact, the biblical writers invite man to study the wonders in the skies as tributes to God’s handiwork.If you take a Bible along, you might try these daily readings: December 21—Genesis 1; December 22—Psalm 8; December 23—Psalm 19; December 24—Psalm 139; December 25—Luke I and 2; December 26—Hebrews 1 and 2; December 27—Revelation 21 and 22. And the Apostle Paul declares under inspiration that “God chose to reconcile the whole universe to himself, making peace through the shedding of his blood upon the cross—to reconcile all things, whether on earth or in heaven, through [Christ] alone” (Col. 1:20, NEB).

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The noted English Bible scholar F. F. Bruce says that “the more that men discover about the universe of God, the more cause they have for admiring his wisdom and power.” An American Christian philosopher, Gordon H. Clark, states, “God’s first command to Adam contained the injunction to subdue nature. Shooting the moon, therefore, is a divinely appointed task. Unfortunately, however, the ungodly are generally reputed to have obeyed this commandment more successfully than devout Christians have.”

This is not to minimize the problems connected with your venture into space or to try to squelch legitimate anxiety. Most of the questions, however, revolve around what might ensue but doesn’t necessarily have to. We don’t abolish automobiles because they contribute to death and delinquency.

The high cost of the space program gives cause for pause when one thinks of the hungry millions. Ultimately, however, space exploration is in their best interests, too. In the meantime, we can dispense with a number of luxuries if we want to tighten our belts conscientiously in behalf of the have-nots.

The really big question is whether man must go to other planets eventually to survive! We may not face that necessity in our lifetime, but one need not ponder long to realize that some future generation must. And if that is the case, and we presume that God wants man to exist in his present state, at least for a time, should we not act responsibly now on behalf of human beings not yet born?

Congressman George P. Miller, chairman of the House Space Committee, has said, “The basic unarguable fact is that we are irrevocably committed to exploring space and to sending men out into the stark and hostile vacuum of space for one reason only. That reason is survival, the survival of ourselves and our children as free people.”

He might have added that it is only a question of time until the earth runs out of resources. Twenty, fifty, a hundred years? Maybe more. But also only a question of time until space travel becomes an operational necessity.

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One alternative for the Christian would seem to be merely to trust that God will somehow intervene and provide all that we need right here on earth. If we take that attitude, however, we ought also to renounce all purchases of insurance and all canning of fruits and vegetables and freezing of meats. Trust God? Of course. But God has given man the ability as well as the responsibility to look out for himself, to take measures in line with the realities of nature.

That brings up the whole question of the purpose of creation. Were the heavens designed by God merely to serve as nocturnal decorations for earth-dwellers? Or could they have been put there specifically for man’s eventual use?

This still leaves the decision whether to try for space now or later. The answer is again that it is only a matter of time until we will have outgrown or used up our world, and God alone knows how long it will take us to make a transition from a dependence solely upon earthly resources to the use of what is in space. Development of interplanetary supply routes may take centuries. Who is to say that it is too early to start? We may already be too late.

To come back to the Church’s special stake in space, we can at least say that in the past God has used the heavens as an instrument to bridge the gap between men and himself (e.g., the Star of Bethlehem). Surely we can pray, “Lord, do it again.” Perhaps one great Christian task is to interpret your findings in space in a biblical perspective; there is good reason to believe this would serve an evangelistic purpose. Dr. Bernard Ramm, a leading Christian thinker, has suggested the possibility of collecting enough data to win a verdict for creation from even the most skeptical scientists. “Perhaps the day will come,” said Ramm, “when we have enough evidence from physics, astronomy, and astrophysics to get such a verdict from the scientists.”

All of which is to say that some of us are for you. Bon voyage.

In the name of the One who traveled farthest,

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