Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

8/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Why spend billions in space when there's work to do on Earth?

Readers of Catholic Online and beyond commonly ask why we care about what happens in space. After all, if our purpose is to love and serve the Lord, what need do we have of space exploration? Why bother sending rovers to Mars when there are children to be fed, diseases to be fought, and souls to be saved right here on Earth? 

When we look to the cosmos, we cannot help but see God. This image is of the core of M51, the 'Whirlpool Galaxy' in Ursa Major. The cross is likely formed by lanes of dust obscuring the light from the galactic core of the galaxy, where a super-massive black hole resides.

When we look to the cosmos, we cannot help but see God. This image is of the core of M51, the "Whirlpool Galaxy" in Ursa Major. The cross is likely formed by lanes of dust obscuring the light from the galactic core of the galaxy, where a super-massive black hole resides.

Article Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/8/2012 (1 year ago)

Published in Technology

Keywords: Space, Mars, exploration, Christian, God, study, astronomy, science, exploration


LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - These are excellent questions that demand immediate answers. The US spends tens of billions of dollars annually on space exploration and activities that take place outside of the Earth's atmosphere. Other nations spend likewise. Wouldn't we do better to feed people, give them medicines, and spread the word of God with that money?

Astronomers and astronauts actually help with all of the above. The problem is that the connections are not always very clear, and astronomers aren't very good at marketing. 

Every day, we use and take for granted dozens of things that we have as a result of space exploration. We also appreciate a growing understanding of our universe and our place within creation. 

While the scriptures give us sufficient answers to these questions, insofar as our souls may be concerned, it turns out that the benefits of such exploration, when applied to our good works on Earth, can do a lot to further our Christian mission. 

Humans have always been inquisitive. It is very much in our genes and a direct product of our creation. It is in our nature to explore frontiers. God did not create humans to live comfortably in cradles, but rather to go forth, work, and to seek Him wherever we go. In so doing we serve God and one another. 

Among the best examples of this is the work of great evangelizers such as Father Junipero Serra. Although contact between the Europeans and Native Americans can hardly be described in positive terms, the one benefit that did come from the experience was the spread of the gospel and the conversion of millions to the faith. 

Father Serra set an example for us. He was not content to stay safe in Spain, secluded in prayer or busied with work at home, but rather he travelled far afield to evangelize people who had no specific knowledge of God. 

In exploring space and doing science, we have an opportunity to serve one another, and in so doing, perform the work of the Lord. And the good news is we can do this without conflict and pestilence, a tragic reality that cast a pall over the good works done by so many among the native peoples of the Americas. 

So what has the space program given us? Consider these specific examples and how they are used to promote the faith. 

Enriched baby food, water purification, portable coolers and warmers, quartz crystal timing equipment, solar energy, weather forecasting, plant research (better crops, stable food supply), environmental analysis, sewage treatment, ultrasound scanners (used for seeing babies in the womb!), a wide variety of medical advances, cellular communications (your phone and mobile devices), and many, many more in different areas. Here is a more thorough list, yet by no means complete.

In short, research done for the space program has given us technology that we use every day to go about our daily business. And this technology, developed to send people into space and rovers to Mars, can be used right here on Earth to do Christian service to our brothers and sisters. 

Consider weather and environmental forecasting. We can predict drought and other weather disasters where before it was mostly guesswork or short notice. We can now shift food and resources to needy regions in advance of disaster. This work saves countless lives each year, all around the world. 

Consider the work missionaries do. Missionaries could work without the safety and benefit of modern technology, but why? The printing press allowed missionaries to carry the scriptures to the corners of the world. Likewise, satellite phones, water purification systems, and modern engineering techniques, help to stabilize native economies and protect missionaries as they go about their work. The end result is more people are brought to the Lord now than ever before. 

But this still doesn't explain why studying Mars or a black hole in deep space is practical to us as Christians. That's because it can be difficult to draw these connections outright. For example, the printing press means more Bibles for more people. Billions of dollars spent on evangelization and food makes for a clear connection to faithful living. A new rocket or a space telescope does not enjoy such a clear connection. 

Yet, these objects are tools. They serve as test beds for new technology, and they inspire designers to do more. That means even more tools. And the tools given us by the space program are perhaps some of the most practical tools invented since the printing press for doing the Lord's work. 

It may be that these tools are not invented with God in mind. Yet, with a little modification, we can repurpose them for the Lord's work. 

Why spend millions to study a black hole or a distant galaxy? Because for the believer, as we delve deeper into the mysteries of the universe, we delve deeper into the mysteries of God. As a child, I once asked my father a question he could not answer. In the backyard with my telescope, marveling at the stars, I asked "Why would people ever turn to drugs or alcohol when God has created all these amazing sights for us to enjoy?" As a child, I felt I could see the very face of God in the cosmos, and I had no need for anything more to sooth the anxieties of youth. It was difficult for me to understand anyone needing anything more. 

I believe that when we follow our inquisitive nature, a nature given to us by God, we learn more about Him and our place, just as he wanted us to do. When we repurpose the tools of our finest scientists and engineers for His work, we glorify God and find new opportunities to perform works of charity, mercy, and faith. 

We have science and our space program to thank for these tools and understandings. Certainly, they cost time, money, and energy, but once developed we, as faithful believers, apply them to our calling as Christians and we cannot fail to follow in the footsteps of the great evangelizers of the age of exploration. 

In this time, when our Holy Father calls us to a mission of new evangelization, I cannot think of a better ally to have than science and all the tools it provides for the work of the Lord. 

 

---


Pope Francis: end world hunger through 'Prayer and Action'


2014 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM

Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for April 2014
Ecology and Justice:
That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick: That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.



Comments


More Technology

Earth struck by powerful asteroids at least twice a year Watch

Image of Data from monitoring stations which were originally designed to enforce a nuclear test ban treaty has discovered that the Earth is enduring far more dangerous asteroid impacts than previously thought.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The Earth was hit by 26 asteroids between the years of 2000 and 2013. The asteroids exploded with a force of between one and 600 kilotons. This phenomenon occurred on average once every six months. More alarmingly, these bodies weren't detected in space and ... continue reading


Upstart Aereo service could change the way world watches TV. Supreme Court will now decide. Watch

Image of Based in Brooklyn, Aereo lets

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Aereo, a tiny, TV streaming service that lets users get their favorite programs through rented antennas is accused of violating broadcasters' copyrights. The Supreme Court appears hesitant in deciding the ABC vs. Aereo lawsuit. The decision could very well ... continue reading


New plan by FDA will help critically sick get early access to care Watch

Image of The FDA's new program aims to get test products into the hands of patients who have no other treatment options.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration proposed a new program aimed at speeding up approvals for medical devices for patients who have no other treatment options available, on April 22. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Called the Expedited Access Premarket ... continue reading


Miracle substance grown in common household blender Watch

Image of Graphene's incredibly strength and flexibility make the material highly useful in manufacturing electronics.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

A team of scientists from Ireland and the UK may have just discovered a quick new way to mass produce the wonder material grapheme. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Published in the journal Nature Materials, the team outlines how they managed to produce a quantity ... continue reading


STEM CELL BREAKTHROUGH? Have researchers achieved 'therapeutic cloning' of adults? Watch

Image of The ultimate goal must always respect the dignity of every human life

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

For the first time, researchers claim to have achieved "therapeutic cloning" of adults, which involves producing embryonic cells genetically identical to a donor. It marks the first step in what is called reproductive cloning, or producing a genetic duplicate ... continue reading


DEATH FROM SKIES: Asteroids have missed major cities by sheer luck, scientists say Watch

Image of One asteroid, believed to have hit Earth 3.26 billion years ago, was 36 miles wide, which scientists said was six times bigger than the blast which wiped out dinosaurs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Barring an incident in Russia last year, asteroids striking the Earth have had very little impact on human life so far that large-scale asteroids have struck Earth three to ten times more often over the past decade than previously thought. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


A NEW EARTH? Astronomers discover remarkably similar planet to our own Watch

Image of The Goldilocks zone, or habitable zone, is the belt around a star where temperatures are ideal for liquid water to pool on a planet's surface.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have announced that they have found a planet that is remarkably similar to Earth. Called Kepler-186f, the planet 1.1 times the size of Earth orbiting a star - "only" 490 light years away. Kepler-186f is the first planet discovered with the right ... continue reading


EYES TO THE HEAVENS: Astronomers say there may be a 'new Saturn moon' Watch

Image of The disturbance in the edge of the ring is 20 percent brighter than its surroundings and about 750 miles long and six miles wide.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All eyes are on the heavens as astronomers theorize that another moon for the ringed planet of Saturn may be on its way. If the heavenly body in the rings of Saturn is confirmed, it would make for the planet's 63rd moon. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - ... continue reading


IS THE SECOND COMING NIGH? Four blood moons this year all occur on Jewish holidays Watch

Image of

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

As climate change wreaks havoc worldwide, and relations between the U.S. and Russia reach a low point over Ukraine, some Christians say that the phenomenon of the "Blood moon" may mean that Christ's return is rapidly approaching. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic ... continue reading


Will Alibaba devour Facebook? China's massive Alibaba is coming to conquer the United States Watch

Image of Yahoo's dominance has since dwindled as Alibaba has since grown into a global powerhouse.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Ali Baba for those in the west usually means the storybook leader of a gang of fearless, 40 thieves. But this will soon change. A massive e-commerce site from China, Alibaba, with revenue larger than Amazon and eBay combined has decided to go public in the ... continue reading


All Technology News

Newsletters

Newsletter Sign Up icon

Stay up to date with the latest news, information, and special offers

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Acts 3:1-10
1 Once, when Peter and John were going up to the ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 105:1-2, 3-4, 6-7, 8-9
1 Alleluia! Give thanks to Yahweh, call on his name, ... Read More

Gospel, Luke 24:13-35
13 Now that very same day, two of them were on their ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for April 23rd, 2014 Image

St. George
April 23: Pictures of St. George usually show him killing a dragon to ... Read More

Inform, Inspire & Ignite Logo

Find Catholic Online on Facebook and get updates right in your live feed.

Become a fan of Catholic Online on Facebook


Follow Catholic Online on Twitter and get News and Product updates.

Follow us on Twitter