I had the chance recently to visit NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston, TX. If you have never seen a full-sized Space Shuttle in person, or the overwhelming muscularity of the Saturn 5 rocket up close and personal, it is well worth the trip. I say this particularly nowadays, in light of the 2010 call on the part of American astronauts to raise NASA funding instead of imposing cuts. As we seek out a new president, I too believe it is time for Americans to remember what made this country great, to realign ourselves with that greatness, and to push the boat out into the future. I went to the Space Center with these very thoughts in mind.
So it was something of a shock to encounter not merely a handful of Muslims, but literally a flood of Muslim visitors to the Space Center on the same the day I went. At one point my friend remarked that were it not for the Muslim visitors, we would have had the entire place to ourselves. It was a weekday, and the attendance was probably 98% Muslim.
This in itself is fine and dandy. The spirit of space exploration is inspired by the higher calling of humanity, and all are welcome. We, as people in God’s universe, are born to unravel the meanings and mechanisms that cause things to hum along. Space travel then is a scientific endeavor that tugs on the hearts of all people, despite nation, creed, or color. So if a group of Muslims from a country that has no space aspirations whatsoever want to come and behold the enshrined grandeur of American might and innovation, be my guest. We could use the PR right about now.
Looking back at our past achievements in space, it is astonishing to consider how much NASA did with so little. Our astronauts were propelled to the moon by men with slide rulers. The astronauts themselves were, and still are, American heroes. In order to perform work that no other human being has ever done before, under the most extraordinary conditions, they require the best training, the ideal physical and mental gifting, and courageous nerves. Sometimes they die in the line of duty, as in the Apollo 1 launchpad fire of 1967, or the Space Shuttle Challenger explosion of 1986. I remember watching that later tragedy on TV as a high school student. The world cried.
To be sure, there have been Muslim astronauts, but the impulse to willingly go into deadly space, risking life and limb for the good cause of broadening human understanding, did not have its genesis in the cradle of Islam. Far from it. The space initiatives that spurred the greatest American feats were sparked by friction between a Judeo-Christian West, and an atheistic Eastern Europe. It was the American-Russian rivalry that inspired our lunar landing in 1969, leading to the Shuttle program, the Space Station, and now, hopefully within my lifetime, a manned Martian landing. As JFK said, we aspired to go to the moon not because it was easy, but because it was hard.
Islamic countries will most certainly not be heading any of these high-minded efforts in the future. They will, no doubt, have some small part to play, perhaps with financial support, or maybe a self-funded payload passenger here or there. But the drive to explore and understand God’s world is not naturally endemic to Islamic sensibilities. Islamic ideology does not embody the wonderment required to explore space, to create rockets, microchips, engines, or to discover cures for diseases. Traditionally it covers women in black shrouds.
As a worldview, Islam simply wants to conquer, but it never will. Islam is a death cult, not a life cult, and death cults do not drive true inspiration. That is why it seemed both ironic and humorous to me to see so many Muslims pushing and shoving their way into lines, and awkwardly kneeling on the floor, prostrating at the foot of a large photograph of Dr. Edwin Hubble. The Hubble Telescope imagery alone is a majestic achievement and nothing that Mohammed could have ever inspired Muslims to accomplish. Why not? Because only in the Judeo-Christian world do people have a truly sanctified curiosity driven by Scripture. Unlike Islam, we see redeemed human beings as “children of light.” (1 Thess. 5:5; John 12:36) And children of light are not attracted to a culture of death. Children of light are drawn to understanding the light. In Mohammed vs Hubble, it’s Dr. Hubble for the win, easily.
I came away from my visit no longer harboring even a shred of political concern that Islam could take over the West. We may have immigration issues, struggles, even wars, but our God is more powerful than theirs. We will not be wiped off the face of the map and replaced by some medieval caliphate. We will not bow down to the barbarity of ISIS. America will not be intimidated by Iran or even Russia. Quite the contrary, when we elect a more serious leader in 2016, we will put them all on notice.