Lunar dust collected by Neil Armstrong up for auction

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Lunar dust collected by Neil Armstrong up for auction

April 7, 2022 - Jim Denison, PhD

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin photographed this footprint in the lunar soil on July 21, 1969 as part of an experiment to study the nature of lunar dust and the effects of pressure on the surface. (Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin/NASA via AP)

Apollo 11 astronaut Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin photographed this footprint in the lunar soil on July 21, 1969 as part of an experiment to study the nature of lunar dust and the effects of pressure on the surface. (Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin/NASA via AP)

My great aunts Daisy and Clella were convinced Americans never went to the moon. They died many years ago believing that the television coverage of Neil Armstrong walking on the moon in 1969 was staged, probably on sand dunes in Arizona. When I asked them about moon rocks I had seen in a museum, they replied, “How do you know they were from the moon?”

I am guessing they would not have been candidates for an unusual auction next week: the Bonhams Space History sale will offer lunar dust collected by Armstrong from the Apollo 11 mission. You can own your own (tiny) souvenir from the moon for a mere $800,000 to $1,200,000.

I have no way to estimate the physical comparison of this dust to the moon from which it came. But I can tell you that our moon is 27 percent the size of our planet and yet our planet is so small that 1.3 million Earths can fit inside our sun. While our sun contains 99.86 percent of the mass in our solar system, it is just one of 200 billion stars in our galaxy. Astrophysicists estimate that our galaxy is just one of between one hundred billion and two hundred billion galaxies in the universe.

And the God who made all of that measures it in the palm of his hand (Isaiah 40:12).

Could aliens see us as “bacteria”?

Scientists recently designed a radio message to be beamed into deep space and reveal Earth’s location. They hope it will be received and understood by an intelligent alien civilization.

This despite Stephen Hawking’s warning in 2015 that aliens could be vastly more powerful than us and “may not see us as any more valuable than we see bacteria.” As a result, he advised that if we receive a signal from another planet, “We should be wary of answering back.”

Our planet has in fact received a message from beyond ourselves. More than a signal, it is an entire book written by the God of the universe. Since he is omnibenevolent, omniscient, and omnipotent, living by his revealed truth is by definition the most loving, wise, and empowering way to live (cf. Hebrews 4:12; 2 Timothy 3:16–17).

By contrast, ignoring or rejecting his word comes at our peril, always.

The scientific benefits of gratitude

When humans reject the sanctity of all humans, atrocities such as the slaughter of civilians in Ukraine result along with the authoritarian quest to expand one’s empire that is a perennial feature of human history.

In a secularized culture that has replaced biblical sexuality with the claim that any consenting behavior is therefore moral, David French demonstrates persuasively that such “morality” is “profoundly harmful” and cites several secular writers who are “giving voice to deep pain” in our culture.

When we reject biblical guidance for marriage and family, we should be grieved but not shocked by a CDC report documenting increased drug and alcohol use, reported abuse, and feelings of mental distress among America’s teenagers. “These data echo a cry for help,” according to a CDC official.

A New Yorker article reports that between 1950 and 1988, the proportion of teenagers aged between fifteen and nineteen who died by suicide quadrupled. Between 2007 and 2017, the number of children aged ten to fourteen who died in the same way more than doubled. And research shows that boys without fathers fare worse than boys with fathers on more than seventy different metrics, including the likelihood to commit mass shootings.

By contrast, John Stonestreet and Kasey Leander demonstrate that the biblical value of gratitude can bring “a range of benefits” such as “better sleep, improved interpersonal relationships, better stress and hormonal regulation, and even reduced physical pains.” And the rhythms of spirituality have been shown to correlate significantly with better mental health.

“I have to give glory to God”

In Psalm 18, David testified, “I love you, O Lᴏʀᴅ, my strength” (v. 1). Here’s why: “The Lᴏʀᴅ is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer, my God, my rock in whom I take refuge, my shield, and the horn of my salvation, my stronghold” (v. 2). Count how many times David uses “my” to refer to his Lord.

Could the depth of his intimacy with God explain the divine omnipotence he experienced?

If we do not believe in an omnipotent God, we will not position ourselves by faith to experience his omnipotence. Then our lack of faith becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy on the path to a heightened secularism that eventually rejects his relevance and even his existence.

However, the converse is true as well. South Carolina coach Dawn Staley said her team’s recent national championship victory was “divinely ordered” and told an ESPN reporter, “I have to give glory to God, glory to God.” Before Jalen Wilson led Kansas to the men’s title, he tweeted, “Thank you God, without your blessings I wouldn’t have any of this.”

I don’t mean to suggest that faith in an omnipotent God guarantees success in life. On the contrary, I mean to suggest that success in life is cause for praise for those with such faith.

“We already have a home”

Henri Nouwen described our Father’s omniscient and omnipotent love for us this way: “You are loved long before other people can love you or you can love others. You are accepted long before you can accept others or receive their acceptance. You are safe long before you can offer or receive safety.”

He notes that such love means “we already have a home” with God. When we grasp this truth, “we may at last have the strength to unmask the illusions created by our fears and continue to return again and again and again.”

When last did you return home?

When next will you?

Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture quotations are from the ESV®️ Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®️), copyright ©️ 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved. The ESV text may not be quoted in any publication made available to the public by a Creative Commons license. The ESV may not be translated in whole or in part into any other language.

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