Skip to content
Catholic Online Logo

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

8/8/2012 (2 years 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.

Highlights

By Marshall Connolly (Catholic Online)

Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

8/8/2012 (2 years 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 August 2014
Refugees:
That refugees, forced by violence to abandon their homes, may find a generous welcome and the protection of their rights.
Oceania: That Christians in Oceania may joyfully announce the faith to all the people of that region.



Comments


More Technology

A confident Ballmer leaves Microsoft 'completely' to run the Clippers Watch

Image of Steve Ballmer has left all positions of authority at Microsoft, leaving behind the tech giant to run the Los Angeles Clippers, for which Ballmer paid a record $2 billion.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Eight months after he ended his role as Microsoft CEO, Steve Ballmer resigned from Microsoft's board, a move that ends more than three decades of direct involvement in the world's largest software maker. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The 58-year-old, who ... continue reading


Why did NASA turn the cameras off? Live feed from Space Station shows UFO, NASA cuts the feed Watch

Image of Is this evidence of a UFO? Or perhaps just venting gasses or debris from the ISS?

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Fans of the International Space Station got an eyeful recently when an alleged UFO appeared on NASA's live feed from the station. Curiously, the feed was interrupted as soon as the object appeared fueling rumors that NASA is engaged in a cover-up. LOS ANGELES, CA ... continue reading


Have you been hacked? New report says millions of personal information has been stolen Watch

Image of Russian hackers recently gathered customer individuals from more than 420,000 websites.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Russian hackers gathered information from over 420,000 websites, both smaller sites and "household name" sites, in an attempt to gather passwords to send out spam. LOS ANGLES, CA (Catholic Online) - Hold Security, a Milwaukee-based firm, discovered the theft but ... continue reading


ROSETTA: After 10 long years - 'We're in orbit!' Watch

Image of Exciting new images, taken from just 80 miles away shows boulders, craters and steep cliffs.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

All things come to those who wait. "After 10 years, five months and four days travelling towards our destination, looping around the sun five times, we are delighted to announce finally 'we are here,'" Jean-Jacques Dordain, ESA's Director General, said in a ... continue reading


Xiaomi overtakes Samsung as leading Smartphone maker Watch

Image of Xiaomi has evolved from a niche player in China to a major force in its home market.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

How do you pronounce Xiaomi? Think of "show me," and then pronounce the first syllable as if it was in "shower." While Xiaomi in English translates as "little rice," there's nothing little about this Chinese Smartphone manufacturer - Xiaomi has knocked South ... continue reading


Next Mars rover will try to create oxygen on planet's surface Watch

Image of Being able to produce oxygen could help with that ambition, since transporting fuel is heavy and expensive. Other NASA spacecraft can already produce oxygen from CO2.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The next Martian rover that NASA sends to the red planet will attempt to make oxygen on the surface when it lands there in 2021. In addition, the rover will carry seven scientific projects, aimed at paving the way for future manned missions, seeking evidence of ... continue reading


Astronomers discover a 'magnifying glass' in space that acts like a time machine Watch

Image of Images which reveal the galaxies in question. They may look like pixels, however by examining light in fine detail with sensitive instruments astronomers can reveal a lot of basic knowledge about the objects.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a virtual magnifying glass in space that allows them to look farther back in time than they normally can, to an age when the universe was young and contained less mysterious dark matter. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Astronomers ... continue reading


Amazing sight beheld on Saturn's moon: More than 100 geysers spewing forth Watch

Image of NASA's Cassini spacecraft first spotted the geysers as plumes in 2005.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

The universe has offered up many amazing sights over the past years, but the most recent one seems to take it all. At least 101 geysers have been discovered erupting on Saturn's frozen moon Enceladus. This find suggests that it may be possible for liquid water ... continue reading


Here are 12 amazing images of outer space. Number 6 is our favorite! Watch

Image of Nebulae are created when great stars explode, scattering their guts across space where they form new stars and solar systems.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

There are wondrous sights in the heavens above! Space is packed with treasures beyond imagination. While we can see many things with just our eyes alone, instruments like the Hubble Space Telescope have given us some incredible close-ups packed with amazing detail. ... continue reading


Astronomers crack mystery of 'transformer' star Watch

Image of The mysterious star switches between two states of energy output, baffling scientists -- until now.

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)

Astronomers have discovered a star that seems to vary and vanish in a surprising fashion. They mystery may now have been solved. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Scientists observing a pulsar have been surprised to notice the star disappear and reappear in their ... 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, Ezekiel 34:1-11
1 The word of Yahweh was addressed to me as ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 23:1-3, 3-4, 5, 6
1 [Psalm Of David] Yahweh is my shepherd, I lack ... Read More

Gospel, Matthew 20:1-16
1 'Now the kingdom of Heaven is like a landowner ... Read More

Saint of the Day

Saint of the Day for August 20th, 2014 Image

St. Bernard of Clairvaux
August 20: St. Bernard, Abbot and Doctor of the Church St. Bernard was born ... 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