Reprint: “Man on a Spaceship”

Reprinted from the February 1971 Vineyard
Posted March 11, 2013

The following article, taken from a book with the same title published in 1967 by the Rev. William G. Pollard, was included in the February 1971 Vineyard under the general theme of “Ash Wednesday.” Fr. Pollard was a nuclear physicist and also an Episcopal priest, and served as executive director of the Oak Ridge Institute of Nuclear Studies until 1974. The rector of Christ Church in February 1971 was the Rev. Henry I. Louttit, Jr. Fr. Louttit was elected Bishop of the Diocese of Georgia in 1995, and served as our Bishop until 2010.

Man on a Spaceship

The remaining third of this century will be a radically revolutionary period beyond anything that man has known before in his history. We must successfully live through great and terrible times involving tremendous readjustments in human society and the meeting of great challenges to human technological ingenuity and persistence. It is a period which represents not only great dangers to man, but also at the same time opportunities to contribute to the welfare of man and his world which will dwarf any he has ever encountered before. To live successfully in a revolutionary period of such magnitude and scope will require great inner resources of faith and courage and a confident hope for man and his future on earth. Some have offered purely secular grounds for such a hope but I find them unconvincing at best and often quite naive. In a purely secular context man is really alone in his spaceship as it wends its way on a meaningless journey through the trackless reaches of an impersonal and uncaring universe. In that context it is not possible in the long run to discover any dependable basis for faith in the meaning of the phenomenon of man or for hope in his ultimate destiny. But if in an increasingly secular world man can nevertheless find a basis for hope which is rooted in a transcendent purpose beyond space and time, then, without having to know in advance just how it will be acomplished, men can feel a stong sense of confidence in the untimate outcome. Such a hope confidently anticipates the same kind of unpredictable and miraculous turns of events in the future which have marked the chances and accidents of man’s past history on the planet and brought him to his present remarkable situation. This is as much as can be said about the future of man, but it is enough.