A Remembrance: Sputnik I launched 50 years ago today

The NASA web page says,

History changed on October 4, 1957, when the Soviet Union successfully launched Sputnik I. The world’s first artificial satellite was about the size of a basketball, weighed only 183 pounds, and took about 98 minutes to orbit the Earth on its elliptical path. That launch ushered in new political, military, technological, and scientific developments. While the Sputnik launch was a single event, it marked the start of the space age and the U.S.-U.S.S.R space race.

Read more details on the NASA web site.

If you have forgotten the sound transmitted by Sputnik as it passed overhead, listen to a short WAV file on the NASA site.

Sputnik I - 1957

Having completed four years of college at Florida Christian College (now Florida College) in Temple Terrace, FL, a few months earlier I had moved to preach in Auburn, Kentucky. A college friend was spending the summer preaching in nearby Morgantown. Elizabeth and I drove up to visit him. My recollection of the town at that time is that there were businesses on only one side of the square (meaning across from the county court house). Lawson informed us that many of the people there believed that the whole thing about Sputnik was some kind of a trick. Nothing was up there, according to them. Later, when astronauts walked on the moon, there were some in numerous places who said it was all filmed in the Arizona desert.After Russia began manned, tethered space walks, one of the atheistic astronauts is reported to have said that he walked in space, but did not see God. Someone suggested that if he had cut his tether he might have seen God. In the intervening years we have learned so much about the expanding universe that it difficult to countenance the ignorance and arrogance of men claiming to know there is no God.

Space exploration has probably benefited each of us in many ways through the developments and products we now use. There currently seems to be a common view that the program is going to eventually prove once and for all that all this universe is a product of naturalistic, chance evolution. Not so fast.

Dr. Robert Jastrow, an astronomer, who admitted that he was an agnostic in religious matters, wrote:

“It is really very surprising that the labors of the astronomers, studying the Universe through their telescopes, should have brought them to the conclusion that the world had a beginning. Scientists feel more comfortable with the idea of a Universe that has existed forever, because their thinking is permeated with the idea of cause and effect. They believe that every event that takes place in the world can be explained in a rational way as the consequence of some previous event. If there is a religion in science, this statement can be regarded as its main article of faith. But the latest astronomical results indicate that at some point in the past the chain of cause and effect terminated abruptly. An important event occurred–the origin of the world–for which there is no know cause or explanation” (Until the Sun Dies. 1977. 27).

“A sound explanation may exist for the explosive birth of our Universe, but if it does, science cannot find out what the explanation is. The scientist’s pursuit of the past ends in the moment of creation; the origin of the world is a fact that he can never hope to explain” (Until the Sun Dies. 1977. 28).

In another book, Dr. Jastrow said,

“Now we see how the astronomical evidence leads to a biblical view of the origin of the world. All the details differ, but the essential element in the astronomical and biblical accounts of Genesis is the same, the chain of events leading to man commenced suddenly and sharply, at a definite moment in time, in a flash of light and energy” (God and the Astronomers. 2nd ed. 1992. p. 14).

Here are a few helpful comments regarding the origin of the universe.

The Psalmist David said,

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork” (Psalm 19:1 ESV).

The writer of the Epistle to the Hebrews says,

“For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God” (Hebrews 3:4 NET).

Paul expressed the value of the natural creation even to men who do not have the light of propositional revelation (the gospel, Romans 1:16).

“For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse” (Romans 1:20 NASBu).

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