Broadcast on ‘Good Morning Scotland'- January 19th, 2016
When I was a small boy I enjoyed reading a book called ‘Through Space and Time’ by Sir James Jeans, the Astronomer Royal . I discovered that a rocket which could travel faster than four and a half miles per second [or something like that] could get clear of the earth’s gravity and zoom out into space.
That looked like fantasy. I had to make do with ‘The Eagle’ comic, which featured the adventures of ‘Dan Dare, Space Pilot of the Future’, who crisscrossed the universe in a battle against the evil empire of the green-headed ‘Mekon’.
Fantasy became reality in 1961, at the height of the Cold War, when the cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin was sent into orbit by the USSR , a state whose official creed was atheism. A Soviet cartoon showing a smiling Gagarin peering into infinity and announcing ‘There is no God.’
But the United States was determined ‘to boldly go ’ even further. By 1968 their spacecraft, Apollo 8, was flying round the moon, as the crew Lovell, Anders and Borman , read from the Bible: ‘ In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth... And God looked at the world and saw that it was good .’
Speaking personally, I don’t think that new discoveries about the universe could ever decisively prove - or disprove - the existence of a Creator. While some of us will feel that ‘the Heavens declare the glory of God’, others may conclude the opposite. But many of us will perhaps agree with Major Tim Peake, who is out there right now, working with Russian and American colleagues. He supports a suggestion that the International Space Station should be awarded the Nobel Peace Prize because ‘it has brought many nations together through difficult times’. What began in Cold War rivalry has developed into the international cooperation we badly need down here on Mother Earth.
Jesus said ’Blessed are the peacemakers.’ It looks as if space travel could be proving him right.