Friday, May 27, 2011

What Does the Pope Have to Do with Spaceflight?

Several days ago the crew of the second-to-last Space Shuttle mission, STS-134, spent 20 minutes of their time speaking with Pope Benedict XVI. Shuttle missions are always tightly packed with activities, so NASA must have considered this phone call a high priority. So what did they talk about?

One item of discussion was the recovery of mission commander Mark Kelly's wife, Gabrielle Giffords, who was shot through the head by a gunman in January. The Pope wished Giffords a speedy recovery from her injuries. The Pope's wish will do nothing to help Giffords recover, except possibly improve her mood if she hears and cares about the Pope's remarks. If Giffords recovers, it will be because of the emergency medical team that picked her up off the ground, the hospital staff that took her in, the scientists that toiled over the centuries, and the inventors and industrialists that made this society possible. Nowhere does the Pope come into play.

What is a young child going to think when NASA—which is thought to represent science and rational thinking—arranges for their astronauts to waste 20 minutes of their time talking to an old mystic in a robe? Why, the child might wonder, is this man so important as to hold up the mission? Speaking to the astronauts, Benedict said, "You are our representatives spearheading humanity's exploration of new spaces and possibilities for our future." If the astronauts are our representatives, then they ought to represent the best and brightest of us. They ought not pay homage to backwards, patriarchal organizations that have quite awkward relationships with science and exploration.


  1. Both groups are interested in the Heavens.
    Both keep big secrets.
    Both entice little kids to keep this agenda going.

    Long ago the holy sea or what ever name took a strangle hold on science because its time had come. They kept the Father of on lock down. Why did they get scared when a guy used a telescope? They knew what would be found and have to keep it secret with mind games.

    If you really think that religion is some crazy people who believe in fake things. I say to you air is invisable but you still breath it. I say to you spirit, as in motivation for goodness, is visable only by its fruits. With the fruit thing in mind. What has Nasa brought us?

    Science and religion dont differ at all except one says no god other says god. Then some person trapped in their mind propogates fact or truth and you are to build your foundation on this. Both concern the mind.

  2. I would think that a child would have no concern as to why the pope was talking to the team, other than the fact that the pope must be as intrigued by astronauts and space flight as he is.