Southwestern Indiana's Catholic Community Newspaper

'One Giant Leap For Mankind'

Tim Lilley

Reliving the Apollo 11 moon landing on its 50th anniversary was amazing. Thanks to the tremendous efforts of software engineer and NASA historian Ben Feist, the “Apollo in Real Time” website live-streamed the entire mission, to the second, from 50 years ago. At a little before 10 p.m. Central Time on July 20, I sat in my living room and listened to the late Neil Armstrong’s radio transmission from exactly 50 years earlier.

“That’s one small step for man … one giant leap for mankind.”

In the days leading up to and shortly after the 50th anniversary of Armstrong making the first footprints in the lunar dust, I found myself contemplating – for the umpteen-hundredth time – how anyone ever could doubt the existence of God. Growing up in a loving faith-filled family made it impossible for me to ever entertain such a thought. Sadly, however, it also has made it tough for me to understand those who dismiss God’s existence.

Science or not, all of this didn’t … just … happen. I recall a project my Atlanta employer worked on for Ignatius Press 8 or 9 years ago. I visited parishes in multiple dioceses around the country to host advance screenings of a documentary produced by Jesuit Father Robert Spitzer entitled “Cosmic Origins: The Scientific Evidence for Creation.”

In the film, Father Spitzer and a cadre of physicists explore modern scientific theories about the origin of the universe. This is one of my favorite comments by Father Spitzer in the film:

“If physics can provide evidence for a beginning … that was the point at which the universe actually came into existence. And prior to that point, the universe would have been nothing. Not a vacuum, not a void, not empty space; but literally nothing. And if that were the case, we’re no longer talking about physics. We’re talking about absolute nothing. And now we’re in the realm of metaphysics.

“If from nothing only nothing comes, and the universe came into existence, the universe – when it was nothing – could not have created itself because it was nothing. Something else, not the universe, would have had to have done that. And that something else would have to transcend the universe.

“These are the questions that we have to ask ourselves. Do I really believe that the universe can explain itself? Do I really believe that the universe can create itself out of nothing? And if not, do I believe, then, that there is something required outside of the universe to explain how something like the universe came out of nothing?”


Fast-forward to April 2019. Dan Falk wrote an extensive report for the NBC News website on current research into the origin of the universe. He reports on theories regarding “an earlier version of our universe” and “an infinite number of universes, endlessly branching out to create more and more universes.”

It is at this point in the article that he poses a remarkable question, “does it even make sense to ask how that whole array of universes came into being?”

Friends, when all is said and done – when we explain through the scientific method as much as we can – we will be left asking, “Well, then, how did that come into being?”

To paraphrase Father Spitzer, we are left with a transcendental God who is responsible for all of it – and for all of us. I hope and pray the day will come when humanity acknowledges and embraces God.

That day will truly be one giant leap for mankind.