Starward!

October 7, 2004 | 30 comments
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The Lord reveals through many prophets, “By small and simple things are great things brought to pass.” He does not reveal that by great things are great things brought to pass. He doesn’t need to. We already know.

The great thing that is the coming election has all our attention right now. We know it can bring us good or ill. Lesser events, like a successfully repeated private flight to space, slip by without our noticing. And yet . . . .

The day may come when the gods made flesh that are the seed of Adam will stand in multitudes on the planets or before the stars. They will have the infinite before them and, let us dream, eternity in their hearts. In that day the election may be forgotten and this sally into space remembered.

The details of the sally are thus (greater detail, images, and video can be found in the links above and below): On the summer solstice a man from the Scaled Composites team took a test flight into space. Two weeks ago he took the same flight, higher and with more weight. The spaceship went into wild rolls but he was able to right it. Two days ago, on the 47th anniversary of Sputnik, a colleague named Brian Binnie flew the vessel to record height. That second trip won the $10,000,000 Ansari X Space prize, designed to encourage private research into reusable space craft.

Other teams are close to completing their designs and will likely go ahead though the prize is already won. The Canadian contingent here will be happy to know that the Other North Americans in particular are hot on the heels of Scaled Composites. These are marvelous times.

Destiny’s sword has acquired an edge.

Postscript
Jerry Pournelle, the eminence gris of this sort of thing, gives andeyewitness account here , with more here.

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30 Responses to Starward!

  1. Philocrites on October 7, 2004 at 11:13 am

    Something about this post seems to have broken the main page of the site. There’s a {–more} tag that seems to stop the display of everything after “We already know” — and it messes up the sidebar on the post and stops displaying everything on the main page. Alas!

  2. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2004 at 11:16 am

    Thanks, Philocrites. I fixed it somehow.

  3. Bryce I on October 7, 2004 at 11:20 am

    Forget the spaceship, I’m taking the space elevator

  4. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2004 at 11:25 am

    As a means, rocketry is more poetic, but the end’s the thing.

  5. Kim Siever on October 7, 2004 at 11:40 am

    “The Canadian contingent here will be happy to know that the Other North Americans in particular are hot on the heels of Scaled Composites.”

    And to launch from Saskatchewan to boot. There is actually a branch in Kindersley. When they announced they were launching there about a year or two ago, it was the first time I had heard of th contest.

  6. Glen Henshaw on October 7, 2004 at 12:09 pm

    Hear, hear!

    I attended a talk by Ray Bradbury when I was a freshman. I don’t remember a lot of what he said, but one line has stuck with me these many years:

    “I think we have a spiritual duty to explore space.”

    I think he was right. A thousand years from now people will probably remember the election the same way they remember minor Roman emperors. But everyone will know the names Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong. And perhaps they will also know Burt Rutan, Michael Melville, and Brian Binnie.

    Glen

  7. Russell Arben Fox on October 7, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    I was, as you recall Glen, down on the floor of the Marriott Center, sitting near you and Sean, when Ray Bradbury gave his devotion. What an electrifying, exciting man–a true visionary, in the sense that his eyes are focused on things beyond what most of us can see. How literally true that is of those who explore space: they are, in the end, just trying to see a little bit further, a little bit more, than what is given to us to see “darkly” here beneath our atmosphere of “glass.”

    Incidentally, my memory tells me that Bradbury had the whole Marriott Center convulsing in laughter and spontaneously applauding him, and in the end we gave him a standing ovation–one which was joined in by everyone in my line of sight, who remained sitting on the dias, not even clapping if I recall correctly. Is my memory playing tricks on me?

  8. Jim Richins on October 7, 2004 at 12:32 pm

    Isn’t it interesting that space inspires such poetry and melodrama? I’m also intrigued by the Bradbury quote. I wonder what he meant by that, and whether he may still believe it today.

    I think people will remember Apollo for a long time. On July 21, 1969 practically everyone on Earth knew the significance of what was happening. I’m not convinced about Scaled Composites… the prospects look promising, but time will tell.

    Few people could claim to be more enthusiastic about space exploration than I am. I get irritated when I hear arguments about the costs of space travel, versus the needs here on Earth. I believe strongly that society ought to invest more into rocketry, space elevators, space stations, Moon bases, Mars… all of it. But, there are difficulties involved, and consequences of humanity conquering space.

    I wonder how space exploration fits into the Divine Plan. Surely, the Second Coming looms close enough to wonder whether we will have time to colonize the Moon, let alone Mars. Will progression during the Millenium render rocket science moot?

    Back to the Bradbury comment… what IS the Gospel purpose behind exploring space, expanding frontiers of science, unlocking the secrets of the Universe? Is it God’s plan that mankind unlocks His secrets on their own, or is He planning on revealing them? Are we close to unlocking, or are we so far away that it doesn’t even factor into the Plan?

    To put it another way… how does space travel Perfect the Saints, Proclaim the Gospel, or Redeem the Dead?

    (and, justifications about Gospel applications of technology that results from space science don’t count)

  9. Russell Arben Fox on October 7, 2004 at 12:42 pm

    “…one which was joined in by everyone in my line of sight, except President Holland, who remained sitting on the dias…”

    I accidentally left out the whole point of the above anecdote. My apologies.

  10. Jack on October 7, 2004 at 12:56 pm

    The three things I remember from the Ray Bradbury devotional are:

    1) Do what you love.

    2) Forget the marketplace.

    3) Live at the top of your enthusiasm.

  11. Glen Henshaw on October 7, 2004 at 1:28 pm

    ” it God’s plan that mankind unlocks His secrets on their own, or is He planning on revealing them?”

    Yes.

    I believe that the scientific method is a manifestation of the light of Christ. Newton and Einstein were, in their own ways, prophets. Not prophets who teach us morality, certainly, but prophets who teach us truths about the creation. I won’t argue that a true knowledge of science is necessary for salvation, of course. But I think that striving to understand science falls under “being busily engaged in a good cause”, in that science is a powerful tool for improving the lot of humanity. And it is valuable of itself simply because God is a thinking creature, and developing our understanding of how He thinks makes us a little bit more like Him.

    Also, clearly the primary purpose of revelation is not to teach us about scientific truths, so I don’t think you can say that God intends to use one method or the other.

    “…one which was joined in by everyone in my line of sight, except President Holland, who remained sitting on the dias…â€?

    Now that you mention it, Russell, I do remember that. It was the best forum I ever attended, and I remember thinking how strange it was that President Holland didn’t applaud. I think Aric was also there.

    Glen

  12. Adam Greenwood on October 7, 2004 at 3:02 pm

    I think its wrong to think of space exploration as yielding primarily scientific secrets. A lot of it is knowledge of what it’s like to experience this or the other part of God’s creation intimately. How does martian dust feel underfoot when the setting sun lights up Mount Olympus?

    I don’t think God is disposed to reveal this to us, though he will prepare the way so we can find out.

  13. Glen Henshaw on October 7, 2004 at 3:20 pm

    I agree with that. I think those who debate space exploration policy strictly on its scientific merits make a fundamental mistake. It’s just easier to discuss it on those terms because the science has more immediate tangible benefits, while the experience is much more personal. That being said, I think you can make the case that the famous earthrise picture taken by one of the Apollo missions was by itself more valuable in the way it affected humankind than all the science Apollo returned. Certainly the shared experience of the moon landings had a huge direct impact in a way the science did not. Ditto for the Hubble Space Telescope — it returned great science, but the presence of millions of Hubble photographs being used as screensavers is powerful evidence of that the experience of space exploration is its greatest value.

    I would also suggest that your comment is more what Bradbury had in mind.

  14. John Mansfield on October 7, 2004 at 9:00 pm

    Dusting off memories of Bradbury in the Marriott Center, it seems that he swore a couple of times and Holland corrected him. This may connect with the memory of others, that Holland was unenthused when his guest finished speaking.

    For those interested in the aesthetics of space, a wonderful film from about 14 years back is For All Mankind. The movie’s concept is expressed in one astronaut’s thought that he had been sent not just to gather data, but also to experience being on the moon on behalf of the billions who could never be there.

  15. Dustin on October 8, 2004 at 2:50 am

    Jim-

    I don’t believe that the millenium will be a ccause for much alteration in our scientific discovery. Rocketry will continue because God will still expect us to learn as we always have. Perhaps the increased peace and influence of the spirit will only accelerate the progress of sciences such as rocketry.

  16. Jim Richins on October 8, 2004 at 10:40 am

    Undeniably, the technologicial innovation and the advancement of knowledge – not exclusively scientific – that began with the Renaissance was divinely inspired. Galileo, Des Cartes, Newton, Leibnetz, Euler, Cantor, Eistein, Feinmann, Hawking… I’ve studied them all and in my estimation, they all deserve a special status as inspired men. Even without this idea being confirmed by Prophets (as they have), we can deduce this because we can see the ultimate Gospel purpose behind, for example, airplanes and computers. But there aren’t any potential converts living on Mars, nor are there any genealogical records. A Temple will be built in Sri Lanka long before any plans are announced for one at the foot of Olympus Mons (Mount Olympus is in Greece).

    There could be an argument for Perfecting the Saints based on the spiritual aspects of space travel that we have all cited, but I’m not convinced that the benefit realized – which is unique and exclusive to space travel – is critical for salvation. As Glen said, scientific knowledge is not necessary. Neither is it true that a new perspective gained from Hubble or the larger frame of reference for the human species gained from Apollo, are necessary for salvation. They are helpful, I’m sure, but notwithstanding the late Elder Maxwell’s frequent use of cosmological ideas in his sermons, not strictly necessary.

    If these things are not necessary, then how can they be Gospel principles? They are wonderful, but they are only window dressing. They are not even the icing on the cake… they are just the letters spelled out on the top of the one-day celebratory cake “Happy Exaltation”.

    Or, maybe in God’s wisdom, He can see that they are necessary. To be honest, I hope so…

    I realized a few months ago a fundamental mistake I had made in my testimony. We teach often the supernal doctrine that we are children of God; human beings are God’s in embryo. This Truth has the wonderful effect of elevating mankind, of promoting men and women to something far more precious than a baboon or a chimp. The mistake I made with this concept however, was to demote God to being only some sort of advanced human. “Gods-made-flesh” moved me closer to God, but also unfortunately moved God closer to me. Being of divine lineage made accessing God as my Father much easier, but it also justified in my mind the false idea that Godhood can somehow be comprehended, conceptually attainable even while in this mortal sphere.

    I realized with shock and shame what I had done, and have since reformed my eternal-world-view. I believe we must not lose an appreciation for our nothingness before God, and His uncomprehendible greatness. It is not appropriate to ascribe human weaknesses to God (even though we say he once was human), nor to conceptualize Godhood as the natural, inevitable evolution of mankind. A child inevitably grows to adulthood, but our ultimate coronation into Godhood is still in doubt. We can progress a long way spiritually (I have a lifetime to go before I can even approach the scale of Elder Maxwell), but God still has to do something significant to “boost” us into the next sphere. This next leap from an Elder Maxwell to a God-in-puberty is probably greater in scale than a weak mortal like me can imagine, and likely involves a fundamental change in my character – available only at Father’s discretion.

    So, my question about whether God expects us to unlock His secrets partly came from this fairly recent reformation of mine. Even though I believe it is a wonderful, worthwhile endeaver, I do not believe that colonizing Mars is going to bring us substantially closer to Godhood. I don’t see space exploration as a distraction from spiritual progression, but not a fundamental ingredient, either. Compared to what is REALLY required to become like Father, space exploration just can not deliver either the quantity nor quality of spirituality necessary.

    Historically, God has never commanded his people to explore the wilderness around them or advance the limits of scientific knowledge. People have had the desire to do so innately, but this desire has had little commentary – either postive or negative – in scripture. His commands have far more to do with cleansing the inner vessel, of living a life more like His. “The glory of God is intelligence” but defining intelligence as scientific knowledge is both too narrow (what about musical, literary, social knowledge), and too superficial (what about knowledge of faith, charity, humilty, obedience). When travel through a wilderness was required, He guided the Israelites. When scientific knowledge was required, He taught Nephi how to build a ship. God reveals the technology necessary to support his Divine Plan (albeit not without effort on the part of individuals, some of whom had beliefs totally antithetical to God. But then, what about Philo Farnsworth?).

    My position is that space travel is wonderful. It demands huge investment, but it promises great rewards, both in temporal knowledge as well as spiritual. But in the context of the Gospel it may not actually deliver all that it promises.

  17. Glen Henshaw on October 8, 2004 at 11:23 am

    Jim,

    I am sympathetic to your comments. As you alluded to, I don’t claim that either exploration or scientific inquiry is essential for salvation. I certinaly don’t claim that either is a gospel principle. But, by the same token, neither is modern medicine. We can certainly be saved without drugs and surgery, people have been for thousands of years. But there is no doubt in my mind that doctors are doing the work of God. It falls very solidly under “being actively engaged in a good cause.” Remember, that is a commandment too, neither more or les important than the others.

    As I said before, IMO both exploration and scientific inquiry are also “good causes.” I don’t know if you are a scientist or have scientific training. If so then you may understand what I am about to say. If not, then you’ll have to take it on faith. I feel closest to God when I look through a telescope. The reason for that is exactly because it forces me to appreciate the “uncomprehendible greatness” of God in a way that Sunday School just can’t. I have a similar feeling studying the theory of relativity or Maxwell’s equations. For me this is a form or worship. It help me cleanse my inner vessel because it is a mediation on the glory of God.

    WIthout space exploration we would have no idea the universe was 14 billion years old or that there are 10^21 stars in it. We would have little appreciation for how remarkable the earth is. I don’t know, of course, but I suspect that even your own recent epiphany may be subconsciously informed by the findings of modern science. Mine certainly was. As a result, scientific inquiry and space exploration both have a spiritual undercurrent for me.

    “Historically, God has never commanded his people to explore the wilderness around them or advance the limits of scientific knowledge.”

    I have to disagree with you there. The ancient scriptures certainly don’t talk much about scientific knowledge, but that may have as much to do with the fact that scientific inquiry as a concept was unknown to the ancient prophets as it does about God’s views on it. The modern prophets OTOH have been very clear that we are to educate ourselves both spiritually and in all other fields. Brigham Young in particular was very clear and outspoken on this point.

  18. Mark B on October 8, 2004 at 12:27 pm

    For a forum assembly address that was the best I ever attended (well before Ray Bradbury arrived on the scene), and which discussed the centrality of learning (whatever the subject) in the gospel, see Eliot A. Butler, “Everybody Is Ignorant, Only on Different Subjects” in BYU Studies, 1977. It’s available at their webpage.

  19. Jim Richins on October 8, 2004 at 2:37 pm

    I appreciate your comment, Glen. We seem to be nearing agreement (if, in fact, we were ever very far apart at all).

    You were correct in guessing that my epiphany was partly informed by science. I don’t remember exactly what scientific concepts were involved; it was probably just a general scientific milieau that prompted the chain of thoughts that lead to my repentance. It might have had something to do with some thoughts I’ve had on what I might call “eternal ontology”. I posted some similar thoughts over on the Spirit and Body thread…

    I am a scientist and engineer by training. My passion, however, is mathematics. Perhaps you noticed that in my list of notables, I included mathematicians like Euler and Cantor.

    Afterall, Mandelbrot said “z = z^2 + C”…. (ROCK ON!!!)

    I do have two quibbles from your reply, however:

    It’s hard to reconcile scientific “fact” with revealed knowledge. You mentioned the Universe being 14 Billion years old, for example. I can’t argue with the science that explains this number – it all makes sense. The age of the Universe IS encoded in things like starlight, background radiation, etc. But, then, I have to ask myself “what does this mean in a religious context?” Is God older or younger than 14 Billion? Can you even measure the age of God? We can very quickly start getting into Kolob doctrine with questions like that.

    I recognize that recent teachings have been very sympathetic to the pursuit of knowledge, and that this probably represents a shift away from the historical doctrine I was referring to. However, I still don’t see that it makes a difference. I am confident that D&C 93, for example, is not necessarily talking about practical knowledge, including scientific inquiry. Modern day prophets and other church leaders can exhort us to pursue practical knowledge, because such a pursuit is valuable on it’s own. But as you pointed out, it is not necessary for salvation. And where D&C 130 talks about an individual enjoying some advantage in the resurrection due to extra knowledge or intelligence attained in this life, that does not necessarily mean practical knowledge, either. I am confident that, again, it is probably talking about other types of intelligence, such as humility, obedience, faith, etc.

    Howard Gardner’s multiple intelligences comes to mind – although, I must say I think it’s a shame that Prof. Gardner did not identify *Spiritual* intelligence as a separate category…

    Knowledge that significantly influences the way human beings – individually and in collective societies – understand their relationship with God has not changed much over the last 4 or 5 millenia. In fact, I think that it wasn’t until the Renaissance that there was any appreciable change at all, and even today, 500 years later, we still understand humanity’s identity largely in terms that were defined 6000 years ago.

    Now, science seeks to change that. For most people, that implies moving toward an Atheistic view of the Universe. For others, including you and me, scientific knowledge tends to confirm the existence of and give glory to God.

    The inconclusive nature of all of this new scientific knowledge demands an eventual expansion of religious understanding. This will come via new revelation that will, for example, confirm that quarks are fundamental or what happens inside an event horizon. I think it is highly unlikely that such a revelation will come before the Second Coming (it is certainly not likely unless Elder Scott or Elder Eyring survive to be in the First Presidency). But, until such revelation comes, scientific “fact” will continue to outstrip religious understanding, leaving us with nothing more than worthless speculation about Kolob.

    Why has new revelation on how to interpret scientific fact not come? The First Presidency has made some definitive statements on things like evolution (“Origin of Man”) but what about the age of the Universe? Dinosaurs? The apparent absence of ET? Religously, we KNOW they are there… but where? Why can’t we talk to them?

    Science has brought us to the limits of currently revealed Truth. So, back to my original question, does God expect science to supercede revealed Truth? Or, is He planning on revealing these things in His own due time? And, corollary to the latter, how valuable is scientific knowledge in the meantime?

  20. Glen Henshaw on October 8, 2004 at 3:25 pm

    “I am a scientist and engineer by training. My passion, however, is mathematics.”

    Excellent – me too!

    “Science has brought us to the limits of currently revealed Truth. So, back to my original question, does God expect science to supercede revealed Truth? Or, is He planning on revealing these things in His own due time?”

    Ok, I more clearly understand your original question now. I would put it a little differently — it’s not that it’s hard to reconcile, say, the known age of the Universe with revelation, because that (to me) implies they are in conflict. In fact there’s no conflict; there is, rather, a pretty large gap about what we know of the nature of God. We just don’t know enough to fit the pieces together yet, and as you implied earlier we may not ever know enough in this life. I have to assume that God will reveal the necessary knowledge to us, either in mortality or after, since the questions you ask aren’t ones that scientific inquiry can address, even in principle.

    About the corollary, you say that D&C 130 doesn’t refer to practical knowledge. Certainly it means the spiritual and moral knowledge you mention, but my understanding of that scripture is broader than that. I think it does include practical knowledge as well. Nothing in the scripture itself makes that clear, but the teachings of the prophets since appear to me to imply that acquiring “non-spiritual” knowledge (by which I include scientific knowledge as well as literature, history, art, philosophy, and so on) are valuable in the next life. I can’t give any specific quotes off the top of my head, but as I recall the Teachings of Brigham Young manual used in priesthood a few years ago had several such statements in the chapter on education.

  21. Adam Greenwood on October 8, 2004 at 5:03 pm

    I would say that space exploration comes under the heading of ‘circumscribing truth into one great whole,’ and by truth I dont’ just mean knowledge of things as they are, I mean the things themselves. And the societies that will form out there, they will also be a form of self-knowledge.

  22. Jim Richins on October 8, 2004 at 6:02 pm

    But, Adam, you are taking a leap too far when you assume that colonization of space will occur. This assumption is a subset of a whole range of assumptions that depend on the idea that what has been discovered by science thus far is A) infallible and B) congruent with eternal Truth.

    Let me ask the question: Our far does the temporal domain reach? Did the creation include only this planet, this solar system, this galaxy, or the known universe? You can address a lot of the science/religion reconciliation problems depending on how you answer this question. For example, if the entire universe was created solely for the benefit of the inhabitants of this planet, that would explain a lot about the apparent failure of the Drake equation.

    A few years ago, I remember seeing a tabloid front page at the supermarket that said basically “Hubble telescope discovers Heaven: Abode of God 9000 lightyears away” and it had a really cheesy picture of a city floating in space that looked like something ripped right out of that old Flash Gordon movie (the one with the Queen soundtrack).

    Obviously, the tabloid was not the paragon of journalistic integrity. But, the tabloid aside, do Mormons believe that such a discovery is possible? Could the Hubble, or a future moon-based telescope perhaps, focus in on Kolob? My personal belief is that while we live in this temporal existence, our preception of the Universe is not absolute – it is exactly and only the perception that God *wants* us to perceive. It would not be possible to see Kolob, because it very well may not exist in our universe (or galaxy… how far does our domain stretch, anyway?). Or, alternatively, there may be a veil of sorts, out beyond the Oort Cloud, that filters out any accidental communication with the rest of Eternity and defines the boundaries of our domain.

    Furthermore, one of the basic axioms of astronomy is that the laws of physics are the same everywhere. But, if the Universe, or our local neighborhood within it, was created expressly for the purpose of supporting the second estate, then we would have no reason to believe that our scientific laws would apply in God’s universe at all.

    Basically, our existence on this planet is analogous to being in a petri dish on God’s countertop. How far out the petri dish goes, I do not know. All I know is that God designed the dish specifically to support the current step in Eternal Progression. We know that this creation is not disposable, because this planet will be purified and carried forward into Eternity. But, when the scriptures talk about the heavens being rolled away like a scroll… well, I think it starts to make a little more sense.

    But, even if you assume that our ability to perceive and measure nature and the universe is absolute – that what we see in the heavens are Gods past and current creations in progress, that does not imply that we will be space-faring explorers during or after the Millenium. That sounds too Star Trek-ish to me, as if God were captain of some Enterprise with an Eternal version of the Prime Directive at work.

  23. Carrie on October 8, 2004 at 6:20 pm

    I completely agree with the argument that space exploration is important for us not only for scientific reasons but in a spiritual sense as well. I think Glen sums it up nicely when he says that without space exploration, “we would have little appreciation for how remarkable the earth is.”

    I do think private flight into space is super cool and an exciting development, though I’d add that manned spaceflight is not the only way for us to explore space. Human spaceflight is no longer very interesting to the average person (except when there’s a disaster), so it often does little more than add unnecessary risk and cost. Compared to sending humans into space, robotic spaceflight is much cheaper, less dangerous, and it can allow us to explore our solar system and the universe more extensively and more thoroughly.

  24. Jack on October 8, 2004 at 9:13 pm

    I think one of the problems in discussing space exploration is the inherent assumption that the second coming is right around the corner. What if it doesn’t occur for another millennium? Even if it occured tomorrow, who’s to say that space exploration will not continue during the millennium? And then of course there’s the pre vs post-millennium argument.

    As an artist I like to ask my self: what is the practical use of the arts? While they may not help in digging an irrigation ditch (though it could certainly be argued that they do), they somehow add an element of refinement that can aid in turning the heart and mind to important questions. Applying this to space exploration, even if there were no practical benefits for doing so, I believe the human race will be better of for doing so because the process it self requires an enormous amount of discipline, skill, imagination, cooperation, etc.

    That said, I’m of the persuasion that much useful knowledge will likely be gained by such an endeavor and that such will be useful in both secular and religios spheres.

  25. Eric James Stone on October 9, 2004 at 3:32 pm

    Earlier this year I wrote a science fiction story about someone attempting to win a $250,000,000 prize for building the first space elevator.

    In a neat bit of synchronicity, just days after someone won the Ansari X Prize, I found out that story was accepted for publication in Analog (the highest-circulation science fiction magazine).

  26. John Mansfield on October 9, 2004 at 9:41 pm

    There are three pieces of knowledge from space that have had a gospel significance to me. The first is the stellar genesis of the elements. Different elements and isotopes result from the various temperatures and densities found in the assortment of stars. The composition of earth requires matter generated in several stars. This connects for me with Joseph Smith’s teaching that the creation of our world is better understood as an organization of existing elements. It may be worth noting that Fred Hoyle, who worked out many aspects of the generation of the elements, did not accept the Big Bang concept (and disparagingly coined its name), but favored a steady state universe. He thought beginnings are the stuff of myth.

    The second is the heterogeneity of cosmic background radiation. A puzzle of the Big Bang is why the universe became lumpy instead of a uniform distribution of matter and energy. The background radiation indicates the universe was never uniform. This connects for me with Abraham 3:16-19 where the Lord expounds on eternal inequalities of intelligences and celestial bodies. Also the phrases about separating the light from the dark always evoke for me a perturbation growing unstably to create stars and galaxies and the gulfs between them.

    Third is the one already noted by others. Seeing a photo of the merest speck of sky harboring a thousand galaxies each with a hundred billion stars akin to the one our planet orbits leaves one feeling small in a way that wasn’t possible in the past. Beyond previous generations’ ability, we can feel Moses’ awe that man is nothing.

  27. Jack on October 9, 2004 at 10:35 pm

    John M.

    I would be interested in hearing a little more about your thoughts on Abraham’s cosmology and how it relates to current scientific views of the universe. Perhaps this isn’t the proper thread for such ideas, but when the opportunity is right and if you feel so inclined I’d be an eager listener. : )

  28. Adam Greenwood on October 11, 2004 at 12:03 am

    Oh my, Oh my, Eric James Stone. All congratulations to you. Also, you’re banned! Never darken my blog again! Brickbats await you.

  29. Bryce I on October 11, 2004 at 8:19 pm

    There’s something about the concept of a space elevator that smacks of the Tower of Babel to me. I’m not suggesting that there’s anything inherently wrong with it. I just get this mental image that’s hard to shake.

  30. Adam Greenwood on October 15, 2004 at 5:47 pm

    Me too, Bryce I.

    The other unfortunate image I have is the twin towers falling. I think a space elevator may have some security concerns that rocket launches don’t.

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