Wednesday, July 7, 2010

NASA: Who Should Reach Out to Whom?

By guest blogger Johnnie Ainsley, Former Space Reporter

On the surface, President Barack Obama’s order to NASA Administrator Charles Bolden to reach out to the Muslim world seems to be a commendable approach to reversing thousands of years of backward thought. Islamists have for too long ignored the liberating spinoffs of science and technology in favor of suppressive thought and the incorporation of mental and physical bondage in their life perspectives. However, shouldn’t the Muslim world reach out to NASA instead?

NASA’s space exploration effort has been an open book to the entire world since its inception in 1958. Since then, its many discoveries have been made available to practically everyone, largely at U.S. taxpayer expense. Consequently, most societies and religions have updated the ancient notion that the Earth is the center of the universe with the more contemporary realization that our planet is a collection of cooled and compacted interstellar fragments orbiting an ordinary star on the fringe of one of billions of galaxies. While debate continues unabated as to whether or not there is a deity controlling our vast cosmos, most societies and religions have embraced NASA’s discoveries and incorporated them in their new world view.

Please note that I said “most” societies and religions, for certainly not all have replaced the ignorance and oppression of their theocratic convictions with the progressive enlightenment of scientific thought. With the exception of some engineering, mathematical and astronomical accomplishments by some Muslim scientists more than a thousand years ago, today’s Muslim world seems to be caught up in a worldwide quest to convert everyone to their point of view, with little regard to the sensitivities and opposing beliefs of others, let alone scientific and biological discoveries that refute their long-held mythological beliefs. Any means they can successfully employ seems to justify their end objective, as demonstrated by the rash of intentional bombings around the world of combatants and non-combatants alike. Anything connected to science, the arts, or philosophical thought outside their comfort zone is suppressed and crushed, perhaps with the lone exception of their love for more knowledge about new ways to build and plant explosive devices undetected, so they can maim, kill and create agony among non-believers.

How does one change thousands of years of backward thinking? More germane, how does NASA intend to encourage the Muslim world to reach out and embrace scientific thought? With the cancerous Islamic climate of death and destruction, the answer evades me. After all, radical Islamic converts vehemently oppose scientific thought and the many improvements NASA’s research and development spinoffs have brought to humanity throughout the civilized world. Were it not for those few accomplishments made by Muslim scientists in the ancient Middle East, their contributions to science and humanity would be relatively insignificant.

Contrasted with the scientific accomplishments of other religions, such as Judaism, the Muslim world has barely made an impact. From Jewish physicist Albert Einstein to Christopher Columbus, from Jonas Salk to Galileo, from Sigmund Freud to Levi Strauss and Joseph Pulitzer, Jewish contributions to humanity go on and on. Jews have won 13 percent of the total Nobel Prizes in literature, 19 percent in chemistry, 26 percent in physics, 41 percent in economics, 28 percent in medicine, and, very importantly, 9 percent in peace. How many such prizes have Muslims won? What is the Muslim world doing to advance science, the humanities, education, and progressive thought? The list is practically empty.

If the Muslim world really wants to feel good about its accomplishments, then its radical members should be more tolerant of the opinions of others and start trying to contribute to a better world instead of working to destroy it. Too, mainstream Islamists should stand up against their radical brothers and sisters and demand they cease the subversion of their Muslim religion. To ignore the violence, in essence, is to encourage it and to allow the radicals to implant a negative image on it in the eyes of peace-loving peoples.

In a recent interview with al-Jazeera, Administrator Bolden told a mostly Muslim audience that the United States is no longer capable of reaching beyond low Earth orbit without help from other nations. Just as the “religion of peace” radicals have at their heart a self-imposed philosophy of returning to the Dark Ages, the notion that this country is incapable of returning to the moon is none other than a self-imposed ploy by our Muslim-leaning president to suppress our leadership in space and technology.

If President Obama is looking to bolster self-esteem by making someone feed good about their contributions to science, math and engineering, he needs to start right here at home by recognizing and supporting all those Americans who have worked so hard to develop the NASA program to return humankind to the moon and beyond. I’m sure the self-esteem of tens of thousands of freedom-loving, religiously tolerant, NASA workers and contractors will be in favor of that.