Space Shuttle Columbia: Descent Into Eternity
The irony seems almost bitter: on what has become a routine mission - routine at least to outside observers - the space shuttle Columbia circled the earth over six million miles of space performing experiments and other tasks, began its descent into the third and final layer of the atmosphere and was almost home free, only to break apart at re-entry. Texans and Lousianians were particularly touched by the horror as they viewed the too-wide contrail against a cloudless sky and, in some cases, marked debris and remains that fell near them. People everywhere pondered the greatest of the losses: seven highly qualified and intensely trained astronauts at the zenith of their elite careers.
In the long tradition of the Modern quest for answers to everything, assurances that we will find the cause immediately rang out. This is sacrosanct among the scientific community and seems the right thing to do in civilized nations. However, when it comes to the nagging questions of the heart, neither NASA nor any other agency of man can begin to offer answers or hope. That's why the lives of several of the crew shone so brightly, particularly the life of mission commander Colonel Rick Husband. Eulogized admiringly for his ability to mold a diverse team into a cohesive family of professionals, his faith and family commitments stood out even more in a series of news reports and pre-launch interviews.
Have you noticed the displays of rock-solid faith and other-worldly peace during national tragedies in the past few years? The courageous faith of Cassie Bernal and others amid murderous shootings at Columbine High School, the calmly assured victims of a church shooting in Forth Worth, the brave faith of both Todd Beamer and his widow Lisa uncovered in the wake of 911, now this. It would seem that divinely monitored events of great gravity are being thrust onto the front pages at regular intervals. Many Christians state a belief that God gains glory in such circumstances, despite (and in contrast to) the destruction caused by morally free humans and a fallen world where tragedy is left largely unchecked.
A somber memorial service four days after the loss of Columbia paid apt tribute to the brave men and women of STS-107. Jewish and Christian military chaplains offered openly biblical readings and remarks and President Bush continued his appeal to the Almighty. It's at times like this that America's tolerance of civic religion is highest. Again, the lives of committed Christian crew members spoke plainly of something more than a perfunctory "nod to God." They lived a faith that transcended the pull to idolize their privileged positions and lose perspective. They also possessed a supernatural assurance of their eternal destiny. Investigate a bit about these heroes and the faith that transcended both their superstar status and their personal demise. And think about the big questions of life and death with us.
Featured Articles and Essays
Astronauts: Eternity and the Elite
Glimpse of a Godly Astronaut
Man Knows Not His Time
Shuttle Columbia Memorial (Flash! presentation)
Why Would a Loving God Allow Pain and Suffering?
Failure to Render Aid
Evidence of God in Human Physiology: Fearfully and Wonderfully Made
Message from Professor Robert Jastrow, Board of Directors, Truth Journal
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Updated: 15 January 2003