Voyager 1 and looking out from the stars

A Christian Science perspective.

The recent announcement by NASA that its Voyager 1 spacecraft has flown beyond the edge of our solar system into interstellar space marks a major milestone in understanding our physical universe. This event is one of many “firsts” that were achieved by the scientists and engineers working with the spacecraft.

The discovery of active volcanoes on Jupiter’s moon Io, of nebulous rings around Jupiter, of the intricate nature of Saturn’s beautiful rings, and of many more moons than were previously known around each of the four outer planets are examples of the project’s many additions to knowledge about our solar system. As a recent physics graduate in the ’70s, I was thrilled to work with Voyager’s Imaging Science Team for several years before its launch in 1977 to determine the best photographic sequences for investigating each planet’s characteristics.

Mary Baker Eddy, who discovered Christian Science and founded The Christian Science Monitor, saw the significance of scientific discovery and advancement. In an interview given to the New York Herald in 1901, she said that we cannot oppose modern inventions, that they “tend to newer, finer, more etherealized ways of living.... They are preparing the way for us” (“The First Church of Christ, Scientist, and Miscellany,” p. 345). Her written works and her life clearly illustrate that she endorsed new advancements as indicators of advancing spiritual understanding.

Mrs. Eddy was a follower of Christ Jesus, who preached, “[S]eek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you” (Matthew 6:33). He was telling his followers, including those of us today, that by seeking God and living rightly – by putting God first in our lives – we will live happy, fulfilling, abundant lives, but that our satisfaction will come from the understanding of God, not the accumulation of material things.

Eddy taught that as one gains a better understanding of God, the burdens and limitations of the physical world will be relieved, demonstrating the supremacy of God in every human situation. She felt that an increase in spiritual understanding is directly related to one’s human progress. She wrote that progressive human thought is a harbinger of spiritual understanding. Humankind will actually experience the results of this improved thought.

At the end of several pages of her book “Science and Health with Key to the Scriptures” where she explains these ideas, she gives examples of how we will see these improvements, one of which is, “The astronomer will no longer look up to the stars, – he will look out from them upon the universe...” (p. 125).

As I think about the Voyager 1 spacecraft leaving our solar system, but still returning valuable scientific data to Earth, perhaps humankind is beginning to lose its geocentricity and look out from the stars. What freedom!

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Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

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