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The surprising history of prayer in space
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin on the moon in 1969, just after receiving communion aboard Apollo 11.
July 7th, 2011
09:22 AM ET

The surprising history of prayer in space

By Thom Patterson, CNN

It may be the first prayer ever uttered by a space traveler: "Dear Lord, please don't let me f- up."

Dubbed "Shepard's Prayer," this brief, irreverent plea is often attributed to the first American in space - the late Alan Shepard - although he reportedly said he was misquoted.

My Take: Space travel is a spiritual experience

As Friday's historic final shuttle launch approaches, Shepard's Prayer speaks volumes about the wide spectrum of religious beliefs among the relatively few men and women who've risked their lives by traveling into space.

Here are just a few of the religious highlights surrounding human space travel:

Christmas Eve, 1968: The crew of Apollo 8, the first humans to orbit the moon, read from the Bible's book of Genesis during a live TV broadcast to Earth. Later, an atheist activist sues NASA over an alleged violation of separation of church and state. The U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear the case "for want of jurisdiction."

July 1969: Apollo 11 Col. Buzz Aldrin becomes the only person ever to receive communion on the moon. A Presbyterian, he administers the sacrament himself while inside the lunar landing vehicle. Shortly afterward, Aldrin becomes the second human to set foot on the moon.

America's Space program, then and now

February 1962: "Godspeed, John Glenn," says fellow astronaut Scott Carpenter as Glenn becomes the first American to orbit the Earth.

April 1970: President Nixon leads nation in prayer for the safe return of Apollo 13 crew members after their spacecraft is damaged en route to the moon.

February 1986: Pope John Paul II prays for God to accept the spirits of the seven crew members killed in the explosion of the shuttle Challenger.

October 1998: On his upcoming voyage aboard the shuttle Discovery - his first space flight since 1962 - Sen. John Glenn tells a college friend according to Newsweek, "Don't pray for my safety. If you're going to pray for me, pray that I do well."

February 2003: Israeli astronaut Ilan Ramon, who was killed with six others aboard the shuttle Columbia, brought with him a tiny microfiche Bible given to him by Israel's president, according to The New York Times. He also copied the traditional Jewish blessing Shabbat Kiddush into his diary so he could recite it aboard the spacecraft and have the blessing broadcast to Earth, according to the Jerusalem Post.

May 2011: Pope Benedict XVI calls orbiting crew aboard shuttle Endeavour and the space station. Endeavour's Italian astronaut Roberto VIttori tells the pope he prays in space "for me, for our families, for our future."

August 2005: While in orbit, shuttle Discovery's Eileen Collins - commanding the first mission after 2003's Columbia disaster - says a prayer in honor of Columbia's seven crewmembers killed during reentry. The prayer is adapted from a poem "For the Fallen," by Laurence Binyon.

October 2007: Malaysian cosmonaut Sheikh Muszaphar Shukor - a practicing Muslim - prays regularly during his eleven-day stay aboard the International Space Station. Because the orbiting outpost goes through several "sunrises" daily, Islamic scholars must determine special rules regarding how to face Mecca and how many times to pray each day.

Photographing the end of U.S. shuttle program

March 2011: Discovery pilot Col. Eric Boe leads astronauts in prayer before lifting off on Discovery's final mission. Boe told spacelaunch.com: "We had a huddle as a team, we just said a quick prayer and just said looking forward to mission and let us do well. It was a good way to get ready for the mission and to give us some focus before we get on the rocket to go."

- CNN Belief Blog

Filed under: Culture & Science • Prayer • Technology

soundoff (198 Responses)
  1. Evan

    I believe in God because I believe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an undisputable fact for the following reasons:

    Fact #1 Jesus was crucified, died, and buried.

    1) Christ's crucifixion is mentioned by Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Jewish Talmud, etc.

    2) Virtually every scholar agrees with this. Even the highly skeptical Jesus Seminar admitted that Jesus death is an indisputable fact.

    3) Christ's death and burial is mention in a pre-NT creed Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Most scholars place this creed within 5 years of Christ's death, some within 18 months.

    4) While usually the Gospels record brief snapshots of Jesus' life, the crucifixion and burial is smoothly laid out in each of the 4 Gospels with no contradiction.

    5) Joseph of Arimathea, the man who buried Jesus, is unlikely to be a Christian invention, given the fact that he was a member of the Jewish court (the Sanhedrin) than condemned Jesus to death.

    6) If Jesus were not buried in a tomb, you would expect there to be different accounts of what happened to His body, yet virtually every early Christian believed that Jesus was buried in a tomb, even the heretical Gnostics. There is absolutely no evidence for any competing view.

    There are many reasons to believe that the crucifixion and burial of Christ is true.

    Fact #2 Jesus tomb was found empty a few days later.

    1) 1 Corinthians 15:3-5, which is a pre-Pauline creed that dates within 5 years of Christ's life, implies an empty tomb.

    2) The account of the empty tomb lacks legendary additions that are found in most mythical accounts. In the Gnostic Gospel of Peter, a false Gospel written 150 years after Christ by the heretical Gnostics, records a 5 mile+ tall Jesus who walks out of the tomb with a flying cross behind Him! Compare this to the humble description of the empty tomb in the Gospels. It simply says that the boulder was moved aside and that Christ's burial clothes were lying there with no evidence that they had been tampered with.

    3) Women were the first witnesses to the empty tomb. According to Jsoephus, womens' testimony was so worthless in 1st century Palestine that it wasn't even accepted in court. If the disciples made up the empty tomb, you would have expected more "reliable" witnesses, such as a well-respected rabbi. Why would the disciples say that women were the first witnesses unless they really were?

    4) The Jewish leaders said that the disciples stole the body. This requires an empty tomb. Why would the Jewish leaders, the enemies of early Christianity, affirm an empty tomb if it was no so?

    5) Most scholars believe that early Christian preaching began in Jerusalem in around AD 30. Most also agree that Jesus was buried in a tomb in Jerusalem. It takes 40 to 50 years for a body to decompose, even longer in a tomb. Why would the disciples start preaching that Jesus had risen from the dead if His body was still in His tomb? Would the Jewish leaders have brought forth the body to disprove this? A short walk to the tomb would have disproven Christianity. If the tomb was not empty, wouldn't the disciples start preaching in Galilee or somewhere where people had no access to the tomb?

    There are many more reasons to believe in the empty tomb. In the words of Jacob Kremer, an Austrian specialist in the resurrection, “By far most exegetes hold firmly to the reliability of the biblical statements concerning the empty tomb.”

    Fact #3 Many people saw Jesus after the tomb had been found empty.

    1) Jesus appeared to at least 550 people, at one point 500 people at one time, and He appeared to groups of people on multiple occasions! Anyone who holds the "hallucination theory" must believe in the impossible idea of "mass-hallucinations".

    2) The Gospels provide multiple, independent attestations of Jesus appearing to people. The Gospels don't just record the same thing in regards to the post-burial appearances, but different, non-contradicting accounts given by multiple people. If the disciples made up the Resurrection, we would expect either 1) the same story or 2) contradicting accounts. In the Gospels, we don't have any of these. Rather we have different, non-contradicting details about this event, implying these appearances were witnessed by actual people.

    3) Jesus did not just appear to His followers, but skeptics (such as Thomas), unbelievers (such as His brother, James) and even His enemies (such as Paul).

    4) The disciples teacher had died. Nobody, especially not the disciples, ever suspected a dying, let alone rising, Messiah.
    Where did the disciples get this radical idea from?

    5) In the words of Philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig "Jewish beliefs about the afterlife precluded anyone’s rising from the dead to glory and immortality before the general resurrection at the end of the world. All the disciples could do was to preserve their Master’s tomb as a shrine where his bones could reside until that day when all of Israel’s righteous dead would be raised by God to glory". How did the disciples get such a radical concept of Resurrection unless it actually happened.

    There are many more reasons to believe this post-burial appearances of Jesus. Even Gert Lüdemann, the leading German critic of the resurrection, admits, “It may be taken as historically certain that Peter and the disciples had experiences after Jesus’ death in which Jesus appeared to them as the risen Christ.”

    Fact #4 The disciples started the Church as a result in belief in the Resurrection.

    Anyone who denies the Resurrection must answer the following two questions:

    1) Where did the Church come from? Where did the uneducated disciples get such radical ideas from?

    2) Why would the disciples give their lives up for something that they knew was a lie?

    To this point, an Atheist will usually respond "Well, Muslim extremists give their lives up for Islam all the time. Extreme devotion does not prove anything". Here is the difference: Muslims extremists are not eyewitnesses to the events they believe, they accept Islam by faith. The disciples, on the other hand, claimed to be eyewitnesses. Unless what they recorded in the Gospels was really what they saw, they were liers. You may die for something you believe, even if it is false, but you will not die for something you know is a lie. Muslim extremists are not in a position to know whether or not Islam is correct. The disciples, on the other hand, were.

    N. T. Wright, an eminent British scholar, concludes, “that is why, as a historian, I cannot explain the rise of early Christianity unless Jesus rose again, leaving an empty tomb behind him.”

    Virtually every attempt to Naturalistically explain away these facts has failed. There is no better explanation for these four facts that the Resurrection itself. No Atheist has come up with a better explanation for these facts except the Resurrection itself.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:39 pm |
    • JT

      Seriously!? This is some of the most non-sense I've seen in a long time...and you spent all that time when you could be doing something actually productive.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:46 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      @JT,

      You think blogging on this web site is being productive? LOL

      July 7, 2011 at 12:51 pm |
    • mrkusn

      Rarely do I find such a cogent explanation of the facts. Thank you.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:53 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      OR you're not being honest with yourself (or us). Have you ever read any books that challenge these claims? Doesn't appear so. How about 'Misquoting Jesus' by Ehrman. Twenty years ago I would have taken you seriously....when I was naive and didn't know that there is much more to the story than you are claiming here. Look, I know I will not change your mind. The depths of your religious brainwashing are exceedingly obvious. Maybe something else on down the line will encourage you to take a cold, hard and honest look at your beliefs. Not today, but maybe someday.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:54 pm |
    • Evan

      thes33k3r,

      It's funny that you mention Bart D. Ehrman. I actually listened to a debate between him and philosopher Dr. William Lane Craig. Dr. Craig brought up these points. Ehrman did not refute a single one of them. In other words, he appeared to agree with these points. He just didn't believe Resurrection was the best explanation (Dr. Craig, the Christian, ended up winning the debate by a landslide).

      "The depths of your religious brainwashing are exceedingly obvious"

      1) So I provide evidence for the Resurrection and you call me "brainwashed" simply because you cannot refute the arguments I brought up? This is a classic example of the Ad Hominem fallacy.

      2) I have not been "brainwashed". First off, my family is not deeply religious. I've only been Christian for a year now. Second, yes, I do question my faith alot. Sometimes I do doubt. Sometimes I question whether other religions may be correct. I'm not a brainwashed person brought up to never question my faith. I constantly question my beliefs.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:07 pm |
    • Sue

      Hey, Evan: nice copy and paste job. I see you've done the same paste a few times on this website.

      Simple google on the contents shows where you are getting your content from. Nice try at selling your religion. Fail. Failing grade on your essay too, for plagiarism.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:15 pm |
    • Evan

      Sue,

      "Simple google on the contents shows where you are getting your content from"

      While I did get my information from the internet, I typed this whole thing up myself.

      "Nice try at selling your religion. Fail"

      Nice Ad Hominem attack. Fail.

      If I'm wrong, then refute my arguments.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:20 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      If Yeshua was taken down and dumped into a common grave, like all other common crininals... oh never mind

      You need a course in logic. Pay special attention to circular reasoning.

      "The disciples teacher had died. Nobody, especially not the disciples, ever suspected a dying, let alone rising, Messiah.
      Where did the disciples get this radical idea from?"
      -- They never DID understand what he was saying. Right before the "ascension", (get it...AFTER your resurrection "sightings"), they asked him "Will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel ?" They thought it was about political power, always, and never about some (later formulated) convoluted Pauline payback system. If you decide for yourself that 4 is the standard for the minimum number of agreements you will accept for authenticity, then you are in big trouble with most of the rest of the story, (the birth, etc., etc.)

      I second the suggestion you read some Ehrman, but I would start with "Jesus Interrupted".

      July 7, 2011 at 1:25 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Time will tell.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:28 pm |
    • Carl

      Totally out of place! This is about astronauts of all faiths praying in space, not a lesson on someone's personal religious beliefs.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:32 pm |
    • W247

      Carl – the problem is that people use any article containing any kind of religious reference as a jumping point to attack religion. Why would this one be any different?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:35 pm |
    • Lycidas

      I don't support copy/pasting from Reality when he does it and I don't support this.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
    • Reality

      Saving Christians from the Resurrection Con Game:

      From that famous passage: In 1 Corinthians 15 St. Paul reasoned, "If Christ has not been raised, our preaching is useless and so is your faith."

      Even now Catholic/Christian professors of theology are questioning the bodily resurrection of the simple, preacher man aka Jesus.

      To wit;

      From a major Catholic university's theology professor’s grad school white-board notes:

      "Heaven is a Spirit state or spiritual reality of union with God in love, without earthly – earth bound distractions.
      Jesus and Mary's bodies are therefore not in Heaven.

      Most believe that it to mean that the personal spiritual self that survives death is in continuity with the self we were while living on earth as an embodied person.

      Again, the physical Resurrection (meaning a resuscitated corpse returning to life), Ascension (of Jesus' crucified corpse), and Assumption (Mary's corpse) into heaven did not take place.

      The Ascension symbolizes the end of Jesus' earthly ministry and the beginning of the Church.

      Only Luke's Gospel records it. The Assumption ties Jesus' mission to Pentecost and missionary activity of Jesus' followers The Assumption has multiple layers of symbolism, some are related to Mary's special role as "Christ bearer" (theotokos). It does not seem fitting that Mary, the body of Jesus' Virgin-Mother (another biblically based symbol found in Luke 1) would be derived by worms upon her death. Mary's assumption also shows God's positive regard, not only for Christ's male body, but also for female bodies." "

      "In three controversial Wednesday Audiences, Pope John Paul II pointed out that the essential characteristic of heaven, hell or purgatory is that they are states of being of a spirit (angel/demon) or human soul, rather than places, as commonly perceived and represented in human language. This language of place is, according to the Pope, inadequate to describe the realities involved, since it is tied to the temporal order in which this world and we exist. In this he is applying the philosophical categories used by the Church in her theology and saying what St. Thomas Aquinas said long before him."
      http://eternal-word.com/library/PAPALDOC/JP2HEAVN.HTM

      With respect to rising from the dead, we also have this account:

      o An added note: As per R.B. Stewart in his introduction to the recent book, The Resurrection of Jesus, Crossan and Wright in Dialogue,
      o
      p.4
      o "Reimarus (1774-1778) posits that Jesus became sidetracked by embracing a political position, sought to force God's hand and that he died alone deserted by his disciples. What began as a call for repentance ended up as a misguided attempt to usher in the earthly political kingdom of God. After Jesus' failure and death, his disciples stole his body and declared his resurrection in order to maintain their financial security and ensure themselves some standing."

      o p.168. by Ted Peters:
      Even so, asking historical questions is our responsibility. Did Jesus really rise from the tomb? Is it necessary to have been raised from the tomb and to appear to his disciples in order to explain the rise of early church and the transcription of the bible? Crossan answers no, Wright answers, yes. "

      o So where are the bones"? As per Professor Crossan's analyses in his many books, the body of Jesus would have ended up in the mass graves of the crucified, eaten by wild dogs, covered with lime in a shallow grave, or under a pile of stones.

      July 7, 2011 at 4:02 pm |
  2. cn2zv5oe

    Don't forget Apollo LMP Edgar Mitchell who secretly conspired to do ESP experiments with collaborators on Earth. They planned the timing in advance but someone got the timing wrong. Their ESP brain waving was not being done at the same time. There was no ESP observed. In fact, the number of correct guesses was less than random chance. In the minds of the experimenters, this anomaly proved their theory of course. Mitchell has been pitching New Age woo woo ever since. This story belongs here because religion belongs in the same box as any other magical thinking crackpot ideas. Sorry, I mean spirituality.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:31 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Good points.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
  3. VoipOfReason

    Anyone who wants to pray, can, and no one can take that away from you. However, while all of your church goers are sitting in that expensive building, handing your money to the front row, praying for a better world to live in. The rest of us, are working on actually making the world a better place. So, please continue to waste your time, and stay out of our way, while we fix what your religous nutz have destroyed for the past 2000 years.

    July 7, 2011 at 12:27 pm |
    • mrkusn

      I would like to challenge your statement. There is no doubt about religion being one of the causes of some war and strife. However, if one were to just examine the last century alone it is clear that both world wars as well as the subsequent ideological battles that followed were not done due to religion. There is good eveidence that religious people actually took front and center to many good causes (ending slavery, civil rights, the establishment of hospitals, schools, and social work agencies, etc.). In 21st century America, due to politics, many have turned away from their roots. Evangelicals do not share one point of view either on matters of social justice. There are growing numbers who advocate a robust social policy (Jim Wallis for example).

      July 7, 2011 at 12:45 pm |
    • W247

      Hmm.

      My church is anything but fancy. We regularly send out teams to help out the worldly community. I am heading to India in a few months to help establish water wells in remote villages that do not have access to clean water ( we are also establishing a home for orphans there too). Many churches reach out to their local communities to provide food and shelter. This is made possible by the members of the church that give generously to make this happen. A lot of churches in my area have started community gardens where the produce is given to people in need or donated to food closets. Stop trying to lump all churches into one generalized category.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      According to atheists, god(s) and religion has been created by man. Therefore, these nutz you talk about are none other than man himself... so it has been man that has destroyed this planet during the past 2000+ years.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Evan

      1) I hate to break it to you, but some of the worst atrocities in Human history have come from the non-religious. The Nazis were officially Atheist. Stalin and Lenin were non-religious, so was Mao Zedong, The Khmer Rouge: Atheists. While I will not deny that Christians have done some not-terribly-bright things in the course of our history, Atheists are not completely innocent, either. Let's just forgive each other and move on.

      2) Christians should do more than pray. We should not ask God for things unless we are willing to allow God to use us to do His will. If we pray for the end of world hunger, we should be willing to contribute.

      In the Gospels, Jesus would always find time to pray. However, this was not the only thing He did. He would heal the sick, help the hungry, teach people, etc. Jesus did not just sit in the temple and pray all day. Instead, He prayed and took action.

      In Acts, the apostles would always find time to pray. However, they too did not just do this. They would write letters, preach, help people, etc. Paul raised money for charity by making tents. The apostles collected bread not just for hungry Christians, but for everybody. The apostles combinded prayer with action.

      While prayer is essential to the Christian's life, it's not the only thing we are required to do. Action is to.

      3) While, honestly, some Christians take Church-building over the top (like those in the Vatican), most Christians will take whatever is given to them. In Luke 10, when Jesus sends out 72 of His followers, He tells them to stay in whatever house is offered to them and to eat whatever is given to them. Christians should not be picky and should not let their own wants (i.e. a fancy church) get in the way of serving God. In Acts, the apostles would meet in people's houses. Sometimes they would preach in a corner of the temple (in the words of my church's pastor "They were renters").

      July 7, 2011 at 12:55 pm |
    • Sue

      "Christians should do more than pray. We should not ask God for things unless we are willing to allow God to use us to do His will. If we pray for the end of world hunger, we should be willing to contribute."

      -yeah, because prayer doesn't cause anything to happen. And asking god for anything is useless because it never works and never has; god doesn't exist. Not once has a prayer or request of god ever been proven to have worked, with a divinely-caused result.

      Now move on from your fictions and start living.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:19 pm |
    • Evan

      "god doesn't exist"

      Then what caused Jesus to rise from the dead on Easter Sunday. Your reply: "He didn't". Then I'm guessing you haven't even read my post above because you haven't refuted a single one of my arguments. Or maybe you have, you just can't refute them, so you resort to Ad Hominem attacks?

      "Not once has a prayer or request of god ever been proven to have worked, with a divinely-caused result"

      Virutally any Christian who has had their lives change around after accepting Christianity, such as myself, will disagree with you. God changes lives; it's a fact. Your reply: "It's all in your head". Do you have evidence for that? No, you probably don't.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Joe

      "The Nazis were officially Atheist."

      lol

      July 7, 2011 at 2:22 pm |
  4. Robert

    If you take a billion monkeys, and put them on a billion typewriters randomly pecking over a billion years, would any one of them accidentally produce the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary? If the universe is trillions of times more complex than the Webster's dictionary, then how likely is it that there was some intelligent design behind it all?

    July 7, 2011 at 12:23 pm |
    • Artist

      That is a good question to ask the gods when they step forward and present themselves. I don't have faith in men so I will wait. Until then I will enjoy my life with no worries and won't sweat the small stuff like the gazillion different religions.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Joe

      The "It's complicated, therefor it was created" argument is flawed. Mainly because you can't, or don't, comprehend exactly how long 13 billions years really is.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:13 pm |
    • Evan

      Astronomers, such as Donald Page, have calculated the odds of the universe supporting life to be 10,000,000,000^124. That's more than the number of seconds in history multiplied by the number of particles in the universe. While it's possible there is not an intelligent designer, it is vastly more probably that there is.

      July 7, 2011 at 7:03 pm |
    • Joe

      Ah, the "Big number" hypothesis.

      First of all, the calculation of odds ignores the fact that innumerable trials would have been occurring simultaneously.

      And secondly, the calculation of odds assumes that the protein molecule formed by chance. However, biochemistry is not chance, making the calculated odds meaningless. Complex organic molecules are observed to form in the conditions that exist in space, and it is possible that they played a role in the formation of the first life?

      July 8, 2011 at 8:12 am |
    • Joe

      Ignore that last question mark, I need to refrain from posting before I officially wake up each morning.

      July 8, 2011 at 8:28 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      "Unless and until you have visited and investigated EVERY single corner, nook and cranny of this whole wide universe, in EVERY moment of the last 12 billion years, you really DON'T know if God is out there. The best you can do (and with honest humility) is to simply say, "I really don't know" and claim to be agnostic. Anything else is the height of arrogance."
      -- Well that's not exactly true. That's why there is a field in Mathematics called Statistics and Probability. You CAN make very very accurate projections based on certain sampling techniques, sample sizes and properties.

      http://www.analyzemath.com/statistics.html

      Of course one is always free to make any philosophical conclusions one "needs" to, but you can make some projections which approach (infinite) certainty.

      July 8, 2011 at 8:44 pm |
  5. David Mills

    Prayer really did a lot of good for the Challenger and Columbia crews, both of whom were burned to a crisp in different ways.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Joe

      I'm an agnostic and even I think you're an idiot.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:17 pm |
    • thes33k3r

      Nothing fails like prayer.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:20 pm |
    • Fidei Coticula Crux

      [Science] really did a lot of good for the Challenger and Columbia crews, both of whom were burned to a crisp in different ways.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:24 pm |
    • The real john

      David. You dont even understand what you just did. Not sure to feel sorry for you or just accept it as nature.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:12 am |
    • Frogist

      @David Mills and Fidei... You're both asses. I rarely bother to say that. But in your cases, it's absolutely true. People who were doing something extraordinary died. They had families. It would benefit the world if you both learned a bit of empathy.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:22 am |
  6. W247

    vryste

    I believe that most Christians understand that there is a world out there that is being discovered by using scientific methods that is very exciting to learn about. However, we do understand that there is a creator that gives us the intelligence and talents that it takes to make these discoveries. He gives us a brain to use, not to set aside but the point is that it comes from HIS power not from our own power.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • vryste

      I believe that it comes from our power. That's were we differ.

      July 7, 2011 at 5:55 pm |
  7. thes33k3r

    If we've been looking for more evidence that religion is ridiculous then consider that the "practicing Muslim – prays regularly during his eleven-day stay aboard the International Space Station. Because the orbiting outpost goes through several "sunrises" daily, Islamic scholars must determine special rules regarding how to face Mecca and how many times to pray each day."

    Praying to Mecca is a flat-earth concept created over a thousand years ago by desert-dwelling tribesmen who had no idea that the Earth had a spherical shape, much less understood the vastness of space. Yet, here we have a deluded religious astronaut in the 21st century trying to figure out how to pray facing Mecca from space and how to contend with multiple daily sunrises. Sometimes it is a challenge to continue to believe that mankind is going to eventually grow out of these intellectually dishonest and time-wasting beliefs. We will.....but much patience will be needed for the duration.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:40 am |
    • The real john

      As long as there are humans there will be religion. Atheism seems to be the newest one emerging. Religion is man made so man will never escape his worst enemy. Himself. This is why Jesus hated religion.

      July 8, 2011 at 12:15 am |
  8. Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

    It does entertain me though, to see her posting her praises on an anonymous message board. I guess she thinks god spends his time surfing the internet.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:35 am |
  9. Robert

    In all honesty, to claim oneself to be an atheist is quite arrogant. Unless and until you have visited and investigated EVERY single corner, nook and cranny of this whole wide universe, in EVERY moment of the last 12 billion years, you really DON'T know if God is out there. The best you can do (and with honest humility) is to simply say, "I really don't know" and claim to be agnostic. Anything else is the height of arrogancy.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • thes33k3r

      Sorry Doctor Robert but you're not going to get a free pass with that appeal to ignorance. The burden of proof is on you if you are the one making the positive claim (which you are, namely that something exists). Your argument applies to everything and anything that we could possibly imagine.

      Taking your own words we can simply insert any other imagined being and quickly see that there is a flaw in your logic: "you really DON'T know if Santa Claus, Zeus, the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, Thor, or the Flying Spaghetti Monster is out there." It's time to grow up and "put away childish things".

      July 7, 2011 at 11:49 am |
    • Dennis

      On the contrary. The burden of proof lies with those making claim to the existence of a being who fits the polished theological description of the God of the Bible or any god for that matter. Atheist do not need to prove God does not exist. It is the burden of the theist who is making the extraordinary claim to provide the extraordinary evidence. You have it backward.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:51 am |
    • Robert

      If you take a billion monkeys, and put them on a billion typewriters randomly pecking over a billion years, would any one of them accidentally produce the Webster's Unabridged Dictionary? If the universe is trillions of times more complex than the Webster's dictionary, then how likely is it that there was some intelligent design behind it all?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:21 pm |
    • My 2 cents

      Atheist stance is not arrogant, but a logical one. What atheists say is "I don't believe, because I don't have a reason to believe." You don't consider yourself arrogant for not beleiving in pink unicorns, do you?

      July 7, 2011 at 12:32 pm |
    • justaguy

      @thes33k3r
      I have to agree with Robert that an athiest can't know there is not God, tho I arrive at that opinion idfferently. Just as it takes a revelation to know there is a God, it would take a revelation to know there is no god. But who would give such a revelation? What athiests can say is that they have not found there to be a god. But that doesn't mean there isn't one, only that they haven't found one.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:59 pm |
    • 4d4m

      It is not to say that THERE HAS NEVER BEEN NOR WILL EVER BE A GOD PERIOD–leave those inflexible assertions of absolute certainty to the theists–it is only to say that one's best understanding and most honest formulation of how the universe actually IS does not, at that particular time, contain the existence of a supernatural agent. This is all, Robert. No more.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:04 pm |
    • Evan

      The claim that God does not exist is just as much of a claim to know something as is the claim that God does exist. Atheists often reject God because "There is no evidence". First, that's false (see my post above). Second, even if that was true, God could still exist. The Atheist has to provide a positive case for Atheism, something which no Atheistic philosopher has accomplished in the last 300 years. Robert is right: as of now, an Atheist can only expect that there is no God by faith. In the words of Carl Sagan: "An atheist has to know a lot more than I know. An atheist is someone who knows there is no god. By some definitions atheism is very stupid."

      July 7, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
    • 4d4m

      Your point is null, Evan, right out of the blocks, for the reason that atheism is not "The claim that God does not exist."

      July 7, 2011 at 1:26 pm |
    • Evan

      4d4m,

      The dictionary reads:

      a·the·ism   /ˈeɪθiˌɪzəm/
      [ey-thee-iz-uhm]

      –noun
      1. the doctrine or belief that there is no god.
      2. disbelief in the existence of a supreme being or beings.

      Origin:
      1580–90; < Greek áthe ( os ) godless + -ism

      —Related forms
      an·ti·a·the·ism, adjective, noun
      pro·a·the·ism, noun

      According to the dictionary, yes, Atheists claim that there is no God. Are you perhaps suggesting that a God may exist, we just don't know? This is called Agnosticism.

      July 7, 2011 at 2:12 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      Evan
      You STILL don't "get" the circular reasoning thing. It invalidates almost everything you say.
      Just because you post a few lines from a dictionary doesn't mean anyone is constrained by them.
      Ever heard of skepticism ?
      I KNOW that I have never seen any evidence for a deity.
      You have provided no independent, non-circular, objective evidence.

      July 7, 2011 at 3:04 pm |
    • Evan

      "You STILL don't "get" the circular reasoning thing. It invalidates almost everything you say"

      I like how you say that I am arguing in a circle and then say nothing more. How is my reasoning circular?

      "Just because you post a few lines from a dictionary doesn't mean anyone is constrained by them.
      Ever heard of skepticism ?"

      I have. Skepticism and Atheism are different.

      "I KNOW that I have never seen any evidence for a deity"

      And I KNOW you haven't even read my post. Or perhaps you have, you just can't refute my arguments? All you've provided is you shallow "Your argument is circular". You haven't even pointed out what's circular about it. You're essentially are saying "You're wrong because you're wrong". I thought Atheists were suppossed to be rational. Guess not...

      "You have provided no independent, non-circular, objective evidence"

      And you haven't provided a single example of why this is so. This is quite a shallow argument.

      You've got to love Atheists. They claim their beliefs are solely based off of the facts. You give them historical facts which support the Resurrection, and then they start throwing stones at them. It's true: Atheists do love the facts...as long as the "facts" confirm Atheist. Just because you don't like where the evidence leads does not mean that I am wrong.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:34 pm |
    • Bucky Ball

      I like how you say that I am arguing in a circle and then say nothing more. How is my reasoning circular?
      -- Good grief. You can't use the bible to support statements you take out of the bible. You need Logic 101 which I am not here to teach you. That's your problem. Good luck.

      "Just because you post a few lines from a dictionary doesn't mean anyone is constrained by them.
      Ever heard of skepticism ? I have. Skepticism and Atheism are different."
      -- OK. Well I just provided you with another option, instead of your two dimensional world.

      "I KNOW that I have never seen any evidence for a deity"
      And I KNOW you haven't even read my post. Or perhaps you have, you just can't refute my arguments? All you've provided is you shallow "Your argument is circular". You haven't even pointed out what's circular about it.
      -- I assumed you would be able to figure that out for yourself. I guess not.

      You're essentially are saying "You're wrong because you're wrong".
      -- No, I'm saying you MAY be wrong, and your arguments are not logical, because they are circular.

      I thought Atheists WERE SUPPOSED TO BE RATIONAL. Guess not...
      -- Why thank you from all of them, But I don't define myself that way, (yet anyway), or feel the need for neat little boxes all tied up with tight little bows.

      "You have provided no independent, non-circular, objective evidence.
      And you haven't provided a single example of why this is so. This is quite a shallow argument."
      -- Fair enough. I (again) assumed you would be able to see the problems, but let's try a few.

      "I believe in God because I believe the Resurrection of Jesus Christ is an un(IN?)disputable fact for the following reasons:
      Fact #1 Jesus was crucified, died, and buried.
      -- One does not "believe" in facts. (Actually science is a METHOD, and the word "fact" does not appear in any of the steps of that method). The resurrection, obviously, IS in great dispute. Jesus WAS crucified, and obviously (everyone) dies. His burial is problematic, however. He could have been dumped into a common criminal's grave. There is no objective evidence, apart from "believers" about that. If you say Mary of Magdala and Mary his mother, said in the bible they testified to his resurrection, you cannot use the bible to verify the bible. THAT is circular.

      1) Christ's crucifixion is mentioned by Josephus, Tacitus, Lucian, Mara Bar-Serapion, the Jewish Talmud, etc.
      -- Not in dispute.
      2) Virtually every scholar agrees with this. Even the highly skeptical Jesus Seminar admitted that Jesus death is an indisputable fact.
      -- Agree.
      3) Christ's death and burial is mention in a pre-NT creed Paul uses in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5. Most scholars place this creed within 5 years of Christ's death, some within 18 months.
      -- Using the bible to verify the bible.

      "They claim their beliefs are solely based off of the facts."
      -- Am not sure "they", (some may ??), have "beliefs" based on facts. I don't think I have met a sufficient number of "them" to make generalizations yet.
      One does not have to "believe" in something for which there is evidence.
      The ABSENCE of a belief system is NOT a belief system. (That;'s one of the reasons I asked if you ever heard of Skepticism.) Some people just want evidence for things that they consider to be more accurate than not.

      "You give them historical facts which support the Resurrection, and then they start throwing stones at them."
      -- There are no "facts" that support a resurrection, and if there were you would not have to "believe" in it.

      It's true: Atheists do love the facts...as long as the "facts" confirm Atheist. Just because you don't like where the evidence leads does not mean that I am wrong.
      -- The trouble is you are making up your so-called "evidence". If there actually were any, a whole bunch of non-believers would instantly believe, (and the fact that that SHOULD be so easy for an omnipotent god to provide, but NEVER actually happens, is another BIG problem).

      "The claim that God does not exist is just as much of a claim to know something as is the claim that God does exist."
      -- That may be, but many say there just is no evidence, and they don't claim anything, one way or another, for which there is no evidence.

      "Atheists often reject God because "There is no evidence". First, that's false (see my post above)."
      -- I have shown you that your "evidence" is invalid logically.

      "Second, even if that was true, God could still exist. The Atheist has to provide a positive case for Atheism."
      -- No they don't. The proponent of an illogical invisible being, for which there is no evidence, has the burden to prove it, and those who dismiss it, don't have to do anything, except to remain vigilant and examine all possible explanations, and say "prove it" when more attempts are made to restate the illogical.

      Have a good weekend. Great talking with you. You're a bright guy. The best believers often make the most informed skeptics. 😈

      July 8, 2011 at 7:42 pm |
  10. willy

    Scientist are people who study what IS. Why is how it got here so important to them? They seem to spend more time working on how things go to be how they are then how what IS can be used to help mankind.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:26 am |
    • frank

      Did they ever find Geronimo's body? Maybe he was resurrected just like teh Baby Jesus!

      July 7, 2011 at 11:51 pm |
  11. Ryan

    Blessed are you, Lord our God, king of the Universe, who does the work of Creation.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:25 am |
    • hah

      idiot

      July 7, 2011 at 12:35 pm |
    • Lycidas

      @hah- why?

      July 7, 2011 at 1:49 pm |
  12. AlEx

    Why is this seen as surprising? People have faith, and if they want to pray, they are going to do it... wherever that may be.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:16 am |
  13. PAUL

    it is interesting to note that goverments are atheists, scientists believe in the quantum therory, you won't catch me believeing in that stuff, no siree, but when they need help- where they all turn when thier lives are in doubt , supprise , supprise,

    July 7, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • JT

      And where do xtians turn when deluding themselves praying to invisible/nonexistent spirits is an obvious fail they can no longer ignore? Science.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:07 am |
    • Rhonda

      Scientists and people in governments are a mixture of unbelievers and persons of faith. We all need one another when the going gets tough.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:10 am |
    • tallulah13

      Um, Paul? The people mentioned in this article were ALREADY religious.

      When people in the space program got in trouble, they may have prayed, but mostly they worked to fix the situation, because that was the only way it was going to get fixed. The Right Stuff is a great book about the early space program, and can give you insight to the mindset of the first generation of astronauts. It's also a great read. If you'd like the inside story of Apollo13, try reading Jim Lovell's book Lost Moon.

      Try learning about these people before insulting them with arrogant religious snark.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:14 am |
    • Bucky Ball

      Where will YOU go when your life is "in doubt" ?
      YOU will go to the hospital, or the scientist, (your MD), and she will do a Heart Cath, an angioplasty, etc., etc. Or will she just pray for you ? Or will you just pray ? I guess we all know the answer to that don't we.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:27 am |
    • Dennis

      That is a gross over generalization. If it makes you feel better to think that "there are no atheist in foxholes" I suppose that's your choice even though it's not true. Oh, wait, you already believe in something for which there is no evidence. So I suppose you can just belief whatever you want regardless of the reason or evidence.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:53 am |
  14. DiamondSky

    @The Ken, it's Psalm 18:9, 144:5. Note heavens and skies are plural in the Bible.

    July 7, 2011 at 11:01 am |
  15. tallulah

    The Space Program was probably the greatest HUMAN endeavor in history. Individuals may have prayed, but anything real that was accomplished was done through science, engineering, teamwork and human courage. Religion cannot lay claim to the Space Program, and shame on CNN for trying.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:58 am |
    • W247

      Tallujah – calm down.

      I don't think CNN is trying to say that the space program is a religious program. What really comes across in your statement is a extreme dislike ( I won't use the word hate because I don't know you) for any mention of religion in any aspect.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:41 am |
    • biodan

      Correct, God isn't responsible for the "science", "engineering", and " teamwork" that was necesary to put the first humans into space. He only had a minor input by creating the earth, moon, stars, galaxies, and humans with "human courage".

      July 7, 2011 at 11:47 am |
    • tallulah13

      W247: I don't care what anyone believes. I have a catholic sister and a jewish sister and we get along great. One of my best friends at work is extremely christian. We have great conversations. I judge individuals by their actions, not their words or professed beliefs.

      What I do object to is this sort of non-story that tries to elevate faith into something more than a private function within the space program. Do the religious among the astronauts pray? Yes! So do the religious among our school teachers, bus drivers, dental assistants, construction workers, doctors, etc. This story exists only as a way to inject faith into the space program, possibly because the space program accomplished what it did through purely secular means.

      biodan: Prove that god created all these things. Please. I've been asking for proof on these boards, and no one has yet provided anything that isn't a personal anecdote or personal interpretation. How about some cold, hard facts to prove the existence of god? The world awaits.

      And while your at it, could you tell me why god had to wait 1500 years for humans to invent sea-worthy boats and navigation in order to spread the word to the New World? Why does god always have to wait for humans to figure out the travel plans? Why can't he simply reveal himself to populations worshiping the wrong gods. He is a jealous god, after all.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:06 pm |
  16. Michael Poteet

    For the record, Buzz Aldrin is (or at least was, in 1969) an elder in the Presbyterian Church, not a Roman Catholic.

    In 2009, the Houston Chronicle reported, "For the 40th year in a row, Webster Presbyterian Church will commemorate the communion service celebrated on the moon by a former elder, Buzz Aldrin... Aldrin pulled from his “personal-preference kit” a small silver chalice presented to him by the church. He also took out little plastic packages containing wine and a morsel of bread torn from the loaf used in a communion service held at Webster Presbyterian Church before the flight." (The whole story is at http://blog.chron.com/bayarea/2009/07/communion-on-the-moon-to-be-commemorated/)

    Please issue a correction. Thank you!

    The Rev. Michael S. Poteet (Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.))

    July 7, 2011 at 10:42 am |
  17. DiamondSky

    Praises for the Creator God and prayers burst out of human souls naturally like explosives in encountering the incredible. Another irrefutable evidence that God is.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:19 am |
    • TheKen

      Its ok to say I dont know...

      July 7, 2011 at 10:52 am |
    • Jeff

      DiamondSky human beings don't have souls so there is no proof your god exists, unless you can prove we actually have souls scientifically.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Rhonda

      Jeff, do you act only on things that "you can prove scientifically"? I'm betting that you can't get through a whole day without believing something that you haven't tested with science, let alone found to be scientifically provable.
      Re the article: It should be no surprise that astronauts take their beliefs with them into space. Contrary to what is posted by some on this blog not all people of faith are anti-science or intellectually challenged. Praying people can be no less mature, thinking professionals than atheists.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:24 am |
    • W247

      Jeff –
      I think your statement just nullifies the fact that science is the end-all and be all of understanding. Can you scientifically prove that we have a soul? Or is there such a thing as a soul?

      July 7, 2011 at 11:45 am |
    • Jeff

      "Can you scientifically prove that we have a soul? Or is there such a thing as a soul?"

      Souls don't exist so there is nothing to prove but if you believe they do then prove it.. What people think of as a soul is just the neurons in our brains letting us know we exist and are alive, when we die that's it, nothing more.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:03 pm |
    • W247

      Jeff : "What people think of as a soul is just the neurons in our brains letting us know we exist and are alive, when we die that's it, nothing more."

      That is a pretty sad statement. If that's all we are, just some random neurons making connections, then why do we have such variety in the world? You would think that there would be no need for colors, textures, tastes – all we would be doing is living to survive until we die. That is very very sad in deed and I hope that is not how your life is.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:38 pm |
    • Jeff

      "That is a pretty sad statement. If that's all we are, just some random neurons making connections, then why do we have such variety in the world? You would think that there would be no need for colors, textures, tastes – all we would be doing is living to survive until we die. That is very very sad in deed and I hope that is not how your life is."

      Now you know why men invented gods so people like you don't have to face the reality of this life. The colors you speak of is simply light passing your iris to make you believe it's color the reality is we labeled them colors it's doesn't mean the tree is actually green. If you saw it through the eyes of a dog – it would be red. It's all in your head but since you can't explain it you think it's a god – now that pitiful.

      July 7, 2011 at 1:42 pm |
    • Frogist

      @W247: You don't need to believe in a soul or a God to acknowledge and enjoy the variety of the world around us. As a matter of fact I don't know why you would even make a connection between the many differences in existence and the need for a soul. That is a really confusing thing to say. And assuming that a person's life is sad because they don't believe the same way you do is a little on the condescending side.

      July 11, 2011 at 10:44 am |
  18. DiamondSky

    We will worship our Creator on Planet Earth or out in the orbit. I may not be entirely correct, but the distance among stars seems it's not designed for us to space travel but just to stare. I think mankind must con-cen-trate on preservation of our planet for now. The Bible mentions bending or folding of space but I think it's dangerous to experiment on that, since present mankind does not have a very good nature, to say the least.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:15 am |
    • TheKen

      Where exactly in the Bible does it mention the bending or folding of space?

      July 7, 2011 at 10:51 am |
  19. DiamondSky

    CNN, I'd really appreciate you if you could feature more creation, like sunrises, mountains, meadows, tropical oceans, waterfalls, northern lights, in this religion blog. The micro world would be great as well.

    July 7, 2011 at 10:10 am |
    • JT

      And it's religious nuts like you who are deminishing science. I bet you're on a school board somewhere trying to push creationism into our public schools.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:02 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      I suspect she's in a group home.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:09 am |
    • Love_Conquers_All

      @JT: Where does your hate come from? You might try a little love and respect...it's good for the soul my friend.

      July 7, 2011 at 12:01 pm |
  20. DiamondSky

    Of course, when we encouter anything awesome, we humans praise God. This is our Father's world. Praises be to our God forever.

    July 7, 2011 at 9:28 am |
    • jefe

      Amen, Amen

      July 7, 2011 at 9:31 am |
    • TheKen

      Speak for yourself... some humans dont believe in any god.

      July 7, 2011 at 10:55 am |
    • vryste

      I find it foolish that there are many that do as you say, DiamondSky. It's similar to the remote south american tribes that believe that the planes flying over them are gods. We see something that we don't yet comprehend and, rather than analyze it and try to improve our own intelligence, we lazily give credit to an unknowable higher power. It's a pity since human intelligence has improved so much over the last few thousand years. We have made many things once considered unknowable, common knowledge. What are the sun and moon? Is the Earth flat? Can human fly? What is lightning? Is there a way to measure energy? We've made discoveries and answered so many questions. Us. Humans. Not a God.

      In my opinion, one's belief in a God shows a depressing lack of faith in the future of human intelligence.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:13 am |
    • Tom, Tom, the Piper's Son

      That's not a shock, vry. DS can only comprehend so much. She doesn't have faith in the future of human intelligence because she's not very bright.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:34 am |
    • W247

      this was posted in the wrong place...

      vryste

      I believe that most Christians understand that there is a world out there that is being discovered by using scientific methods that is very exciting to learn about. However, we do understand that there is a creator that gives us the intelligence and talents that it takes to make these discoveries. He gives us a brain to use, not to set aside but the point is that it comes from HIS power not from our own power.

      July 7, 2011 at 11:51 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.