Like most American boys who grew up in the late 1970s and early 1980s I was fascinated by space exploration. I drank Tang (even though it tasted horrible), took pilgrimages to Houston’s Johnson Space Center, and viewed Tom Wolfe’s The Right Stuff (both the book and the movie) as a New Journalism epic, the modern equivalent of Homer’s Odyssey. But by the time fo the Challenger disaster, my interest had aleready begun to wane. The exploits of NASA seemed less like the sagas of Star Trek and more like routine experiments in a zero-gravity laboratory—interesting to science geeks, maybe, but not something that would appeal to would-be adventurers. By the time I entered adulthood, my former love of space had turned to complete apathy.
My lack of interest would probably have continued unabated were it not for my FT colleagues. First Things is decidedly pro-space travel (see, for example, here and here), and while I’m not fully sold on their reasons, its hard not to be infected by their enthusiasm for scouting the final frontier.
But it is my friend Dustin Steeve who raises a point that I find most compelling:
As a Christian, I believe that God has revealed himself, in part, through creation; Mars being no less a part of creation than earth. While I don’t believe that we have a moral obligation to explore Mars, shouldn’t we at least give strong consideration to the opportunity to know God more by exploring this mostly unknown work of His hands?
Steeve raises the question in response to a talk given by planetary scientist Joel Levine. Levine believes that we should go to Mars—and that taxpayer should pay for it.
Assuming that the expenditures could be justified (Levine mentions national security and economic considerations), would you be in favor of the government spending more money on visiting Mars?