The Moon Landing at 45: Humankind’s Potential and Hope
This year marks the 45th anniversary of the Apollo 11 landing on the moon. What can this amazing achievement teach us about humankind and our future?
On a wall in my home, I have a framed copy of the Aug. 8, 1969, issue of LIFE magazine. This historic issue carried the cover story “On the Moon,” with a powerful picture of the lunar surface covered by human footprints surrounding the American flag. In a century marked by two world wars, a 40-year cold war and life-changing technological advancements, this one event stands out.
In fact, that accomplishment may arguably be the greatest physical achievement humankind has reached in nearly 6,000 years of recorded history.
July 20 marks the 45th anniversary of human beings walking on the moon for the first time. Though this feat was accomplished through American investment and technology, it truly was a human accomplishment. As Neil Armstrong poignantly stated as he stepped onto the moon’s surface for the first time: “That’s one small step for a man, one giant leap for mankind.”
A national goal amid a horrible decade
Though the idea of traveling to the moon probably entered the human psyche the moment leaving the earth’s atmosphere became a technological possibility, it was President John F. Kennedy who turned the dream into a national goal for America.
On May 25, 1961, in an address to Congress, President Kennedy said: “I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth. No single space project in this period will be more impressive to mankind, or more important for the long-range exploration of space.”
The 1960s turned out to be one of the most tumultuous decades in history. The tumult began in November 1963 with President Kennedy’s assassination. As the decade progressed, America and the world saw the Vietnam War, youth protests, the rise of the counterculture movement, the drug culture, riots and the civil rights movement.
Though we have technologically escaped the confines of the earth, we human beings have been unable to escape the confines of our own human nature.This all culminated in the year 1968—arguably the worst year in American history. It began with the bloody Tet Offensive in Vietnam that led many to believe the American effort in that country was an unwinnable war. America’s national confidence was shaken. As the year went on, the political assassinations of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy and the riots at the Chicago Democratic National Convention rocked the nation and made many wonder if America—and the world—was unraveling before their eyes.
But that decade of division and blood ended with hope. On July 20, 1969, America accomplished the goal set by President Kennedy eight years earlier. Two NASA astronauts—Neil Armstrong and Edwin “Buzz” Aldrin Jr.—successfully landed on the moon’s surface, while Michael Collins circled the moon in the command module.
Around the world, millions were glued to their televisions and radios and witnessed the images and sounds of this transformative event. The images of this achievement remain embedded in the consciousness of the world—the words of Neil Armstrong, the images of astronauts climbing down the ladder of the spacecraft and bouncing on the moon’s surface, the planting of the American flag and the images of footprints on a surface that human feet had never touched.
Including that Apollo 11 landing, there have been a total of 12 men who have walked on the moon in six separate NASA lunar landings.
Technology has not solved human problems
The moon landing represented much more than the achievement of a national goal. It showed that mankind could achieve amazingly positive accomplishments—even in dangerous and tumultuous times!
Despite mankind’s many issues, there was still hope and potential.
But, regardless of how amazing this event was and what a “giant leap” it was for mankind, that advancement did not lead to human beings solving the core spiritual issues of character that have caused basic human problems—suffering, war, poverty, violence, etc.
It comes down to this: Though we have technologically escaped the confines of the earth, we human beings have been unable to escape the confines of our own human nature.
The core selfishness of human nature is the primary cause of nearly all societal problems (James 3:16; 4:1-2). Combined with the deceiving influence of Satan the devil, humankind remains captive to self-destructive behavior and suffering (2 Timothy 2:26; Revelation 12:9).
But potential and hope remain!
A greater potential and hope
There is another giant leap that mankind is destined to take. It will not be through technology or human efforts.
But before that, a violent and dangerous period is coming that will be much worse than the 1960s. The Bible refers to this time as the Great Tribulation, which will be the absolute worst period of man’s history “since the beginning of the world until this time” (Matthew 24:21). This will be a time of world war that will also be characterized by the absolute degradation of human character (2 Timothy 3:1-5). It will be so bad that humankind will come extremely close to destroying itself (Matthew 24:22).
But Jesus Christ will return to earth and save humankind from this self-destruction (verse 30). Christ will then begin the process of helping humankind to finally achieve our ultimate potential—the giant leap of being born into the family of God as spirit beings (1 Corinthians 15:44, 53-54).
The future of space
And this all has a connection to outer space!
Notice Romans 8:19-22: “For the earnest expectation of the creation eagerly waits for the revealing of the sons of God. For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it in hope; because the creation itself also will be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and labors with birth pangs together until now” (emphasis added).
The largest portion of the physical creation referred to in this scripture is outer space! The moon and the planets will be delivered from their present state of lifeless decay and will be restored to beauty and order. The implication is that life will spread across the universe!
This will be accomplished by the unending “increase of His government and peace” that will spread throughout the galaxies and universe (Isaiah 9:7).
At that time, space travel will no longer awe us—but will be a part of life!
As you remember 45 years since the first man landed on the moon in 1969, take some time to consider the much greater potential and hope of humankind and space!
But don’t just consider it—embrace your part in it!
To learn more about your part in God’s great plan, download our inspiring booklet The Mystery of the Kingdom.
Photo by Nasa