Okay, since we are in Lunar mode today, here’s another quotation:
“No event in contemporary culture was as thrilling, here on earth, as three moments of the mission’s climax: the moment when, superimposed over the image of a garishly colored imitation-model standing motionless on the television screen, there flashed the words: “Lunar module has landed” – the moment when the faint, gray shape of the actual model came shivering from the moon to the screen – and the moment when the shining white blob which was Neil Armstrong took his immortal first step. At this last, I felt one instant of unhappy fear, wondering what he would say, because he had it in his power to destroy the meaning and the glory of that moment, as the astronauts of Apollo 8 had done in their time. He did not. He made no reference to God; he did not undercut the rationality of his achievement by paying tribute to the forces of the opposite; he spoke of man”. (page 186).
Ayn Rand, The Voice of Reason.
For all that I broadly share the sentiment expressed here, I don’t think that any of the astronauts, even if they were religious, would have thought of their faith as somehow undercutting the sheer, grandeur of rational thought that got them up there in the first place. For them, I think, belief in a Supreme Being might even have been strengthened by wondering about how the universe came about in the first place, although cosmology comes in many forms. But still, Rand was right to make the point: in a culture that sometimes denigrates science and reason, the Moon landings were a potent reminder of just how far Man has travelled through the use of both.