The fiftieth anniversary of the NASA Apollo 11 mission that rocketed Neil Armstrong to fame as the first human to land on the moon and inspired him to utter the unforgettable phrases “one small step for (a) man; one giant leap for mankind” seems a most appropriate occasion on which to consider the strange selectivity of human credulity.
To most of us who are old enough to have watched and heard the fuzzy but fabulous live telecast of this epochal event, as I was fortunate to do with my colleagues in the boardroom of Best & Swift Advertising, Sydney, it was a triumph of combined skill and technology.
But of course, despite the majority of us lunar techies, there was, and has apparently been ever since, a minority of what we like to think of as lunatics who’ve consistently claimed that the whole thing was nothing but a bunch of Earth-bound special-effects, or, in other words, lunar tricks.
And I have to admit that, as an avowed sceptic and thus apt to doubt or at least question everything that anyone tells or tries to sell me, I somewhat sympathise with these trickery-conspiracy theorists.
Because, let’s face it, we’re all of us, very much including myself, highly illogical if not outright loony-tunes when it comes to choosing what to believe/disbelieve, credit or discredit, or have faith/refuse to have faith in.
For example, I fail to see why I should believe in some God or other allegedly Almighty being when there have been and still are so many competing claimants for this position, and countless associated religions all clamouring for recognition as the sole one capable of guaranteeing the ‘salvation’ of my ‘immortal’ so-called ‘soul’.
Especially in light of the fact that most if not all religions, as heavenly as they claim to be, are used and abused by their earthly representatives and most unholy, indeed wholly-hypocritical adherents, to amass massive wealth, or profane power over the masses, or more usually both.
And none of these ‘religious’ so-called ‘faiths’ can produce the slightest shred of evidence for their ‘truths’ aside from such dubious sources as ‘sacred’ texts replete with accounts of ‘miracles’ and other such mumbo-jumbo.
Whereas just a few of my motives for believing in the moon-landing is that neither NASA nor anybody else has ever claimed that this astonishing technological achievement was outright ‘miraculous’, nor demanded that we dedicated lunar-techies do anything so loony as to pay homage to the Moon goddess, that dead-and-gone Nordic ‘divinity’ whose ‘holy’ day is memoralised in the English Mo(o)nday, just as her fellow imaginary inhabitants of Valhalla are fossilised in Tiewsday, Wodensday, Thorsday and Freyasday, Saturnsday and Sunday.
And in any event, I’m capable of at least dimly comprehending the scientific challenges that had to be overcome in the achievement of the first manned lunar landing, largely thanks to the best book I’ve ever read on the subject, Norman Mailer’s magisterial Of a Fire on the Moon.
Admittedly I have no detailed idea of how this feat was achieved, any more than I have of how stationary-orbit satellites are so astonishingly capable of relaying terrestrial communications; or how electronics work to transmit radio and television; or indeed what the internet is or how it manages to put me in touch with everything from massive stores of movies and computer games to Facebook friends not only by text, but also audio and video.
But at least I have hard evidence that that the internet actually works, or, if you prefer, wwworks, as I’ll once again demonstrate, at least to my own Lunar-techie satisfaction, when I finish this post and see it appear wwwherever the hell I happen to send it.
Unlike prayer, which, though many perfectly sane, sincere and dear , which people I know swear by its importance and effectiveness, has never in my personal experience proven to either reach its intended recipient or inspire any recognisable response.
Though Australia’s current Prime Minister, Scott Morrison, a Pentecostal Christian, attributed his coalition’s winning of the recent federal election to the power of prayer, declaring at his moment of victory that he had “always believed in miracles.”
But surely, at least as it seems to me, no God worthy of the title would be bothered wasting his/her/its miracle-working talents on a matter this trivial when there are wars, natural disasters and terrible diseases still urgently awaiting divine intervention.
And in any event, as far as I’m personally concerned, you’d have to be a religious loony to attribute Scott Morrison’s political success to the power of prayer rather than what all-too-clearly actually works wonders for him, which is his God-forsaken or in other words sinful talent for spinning, dissembling and lying.
Just as you’d have to be something of a lunatic to keep claiming that the 1969 moon landing was a loony confidence trick rather than what the vast sane majority of us are so appropriately celebrating this week: an almost incredible but totally believable combination of human curiosity, ingenuity, courage and both lunar and tech know-how.