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Dreaming About Tomorrow

During the 2008 primary, I strongly opposed Barack Obama as the candidate. I didn’t buy into his message of Change and Hope. While I voted for him in the general election, I still think that he was full of shit. As a point of fact, he hasn’t changed the healthcare system or any other policy he said he would. But today I want to talk about the Hope part and how that affects the community of reason.

Recently, Obama cut the NASA budget and scrapped the Constellation project including the Orion space craft. Obama has pretty much stranded America to the Earth.

Yesterday, Neil Armstrong (the first man on the moon), Jim Lovell (Commander of Apollo 13 – played by Tom Hanks in the film Apollo 13) and Gene Carnan (Commander of Apollo 17) wrote a letter to the President calling his new plan for NASA, “devastating.” They are not alone in that view. Astrophysicist, educator, and director of the Hayden Planetarium Neil deGrasse Tyson echoes their view:

Neil deGrasse Tyson is correct, people are not dreaming about tomorrow any more. This move by Obama kills Hope. But not all of the blame is on Obama here. The fact is that even our television and movies have stopped dreaming about tomorrow or at least have put a more negative spin on the future.

Not long ago science fiction was about space exploration, solving problems, the strength of diversity, and the hope for a better world. I think of shows like Star Trek, Babylon 5, Stargate, and others. Today there is very little sci-fi on television and the shows that were recent hits like Battlestar Galactica were depressing shows about how people and technology sucks.

The community of reason depends of hope for the future. We need to teach people to dream and to reach for those dreams. Technology and science aren’t the cause of our problems, but are our partners in finding solutions. The universe is wondrous with treasures to satiate desires both subtle and gross, but it’s not for the timid. Today’s dreamers are tomorrow’s explorers.

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  • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

    Obama thus far has proven to be kind of a crappy president. The only good thing I can think of is that he increased the number of acres of federally protect land.

    I am not happy about the changes to the space program. We need a moon base. We need to go to Mars. As some have commented, Obama doesn’t have issues spending elsewhere but NASA is too much even though it is .5% of the federal budget.

    If we don’t get idiot candidates on the republican side like Palin or that Indian dude from New Orleans, I might vote right wing in 2012. I can also take a long hard look at congressmen.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Yeah, because the Republicans love science so much, lol. The best bet is to either get Obama to support NASA more or to find a Democratic candidate to run against him in a primary. I’m hoping Dean will go that route.

      • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

        They might not like science per se because religion fuels the party but the the right wing does obsess over our nation being the “best” in terms of military and technological superiority.

        Come 2012 I will take very careful look at the candidates before making any decisions though.

  • 1225truth

    It goes beyond NASA, but we look to NASA for broad inquiry and inspiration.

    Dr. James Hansen of NASA was arrested in West Virginia, in part because the Obama administration seems to be embracing pseudo-sciences- like “clean coal”. It seems public policy is to move backward by reducing support for objective scientific inquiry and embracing subjective ($$$ profit potential) pseudo-sciences from which, if any valid technologies emerge, will “break our bank” and bilk rate payers mercilessly. We choose those technologies which will both endanger and impoverish us, like nuclear fission in Georgia, but be miserly with much lower cost real scientific inquiry.

    What could be the outcome? Not much! Just the future of our species and most other species on our fragile planet.

  • PRG

    It’s very difficult to have hope in this world of global warming, mass extinction, overpopulation, and religious fundamentalism.

  • Greg

    I think what he set out actually expands future plans. He did not rule out the possibility of a “Moonbase” which will most likely be necessary to actually have a jumping off point to get to Mars and beyond. He only stated that getting back to the Moon should not be set as a goal. It shouldn’t be the goal, just a step. He mentioned going to an asteroid and Mars, imagine the technology developments which will be required. Part of being a dreamer is having big dreams.

    • http://www.dangeroustalk.net Staks

      Since publishing of this article, Obama has altered his plans. I have not read his revised plan yet and am currently seeking advise from professionals who’s opinions I value. I am also looking into his plan more carefully on my own.

      I am glad that the strong criticism Obama received from aerospace professionals have caused him to reconsider his plans. That is at least a step in the right direction. The real question is whether Obama has put into place the means to actually do what he claims or whether they are just nice words.

      I am skeptical, but open to retracting my harsh opinion on this matter.

      • http://myspace.com/scott888 Scott

        After rereading his plans, they didn’t sound as bad the second time. If the private industry produces their own rockets, then space will probably become more accessible.

        And if the US does fail to make a moon base, there are plenty of Asian nations like China, India, Japan, among others that have a minor space race thing going on and they all want to get to the moon. And you know that if another nation is making a moon base, the US will do it as well.

  • Drew

    Can you please correct your spelling in the article? It’s deGrasse, not deGresse.

    Other than that, I agree wholeheartedly.

  • Pingback: Dangerous Talk » The Verge of an Enlightenment or a Dark Age

  • Peter

    Given all the acrimony and divisiveness in the so-called atheist movement lately I certainly wouldn’t want to live in a world solely of atheists. Just like the old religious wars of
    Europe and Sunni/Shiite divide in modern Islam you’d see different factions battling for supremacy, each claiming they and only they are right. Never happen? Human nature doesn’t change, my friend. I’ll pass on world atheism.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      Don’t be ridiculous. Of course there is divisiveness and infighting within the atheist community, but that doesn’t mean that a world with religion (which is far, far, more divisive) would be preferable. That’s like saying that because England and France have disagreements, that it would be better to live in a world with Nazi Germany.

      A world with only atheists is still going to magically make the world a paradise, but it would be a huge start!!! Religion makes the world much more violent and hateful. It is an obstacle to human happiness, human progress, and human survival. A world without it would be so much more preferred that it isn’t even a valid question. Of course it would be better to get rid of ridiculous and dangerous beliefs on insufficient evidence.

  • http://www.atheistrev.com/ vjack

    I will happily jettison the atheist part of my identity the moment it is no longer necessary or meaningful. A world without religious belief sounds good and I wouldn’t turn it down. At the same time, I don’t see myself as working to eradicate religion as much as trying to advance education, critical thinking, and secularism.

  • http://www.skepticink.com/incredulous Edward Clint

    I agree, the usefulness in the atheist identity is the hope of one day jettisoning it. It’s not important to my identity because it is essentially negative. Science, skepticism, reason, empathy, rationality.. those are important to my identity.

    Living in Germany gave me a tiny preview of what post-religious society is like. Not perfectly of course.. but almost none of the Germans I met, dated, befriended etc.., gave a damn about religion. They also weren’t interested in identifying loudly as “atheists”… it simply wasn’t an issue for them. It was wonderful. Nothing was lost in the translation.

  • Sydney

    A world without religon? Are you insane?!?!
    Where do you think the founding principles of morality came from?

    Now that I have my rant over with I just wanna make the point I was trying to say but I didn’t since I’m a terrible writer or whatever. People say a athiest world would be more peaceful, that everyone would just be very moral and optimistic. Where was that morality when my atheistic father beat me to unconsciousness as a child? Where was that optimism when my brother decided to commit suicide because of harassment? WHERE WAS POSITIVE ATHIEST MORALS WHEN I WAS RAPED IN A BACK ALLEY?!!!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!

    Where did I find solace from my horrible atheistic lifestyle? Religon. Christianity has opened doors for me too meet wonderful people and have something I can find peace in. Granted that not all Christians are as morally right as they should be, I still find that my life after I became Christian has become much better.

    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk
    • http://skepticink.com/dangeroustalk Dangerous Talk

      I also want to add that atheism isn’t a belief system. It is a lack of belief system. I’m sorry that there have been people in your life who did horrible things to you, but that had nothing to do with them being atheists. Plenty of people have horrible things done to them by religious believers. The difference is that the religious believers get away with it because they justify their horrible actions with their religious text or beliefs. The Bible has no problem with rape for example. According to the Bible, if you rape a woman, you have damaged a man’s property and have to pay the price. If the woman was unmarried, then you either have to pay her father a sub a money or marry her (yes, the Bible says that a rapist should marry the woman he raped). If the woman is married, then the rapist has to pay the husband for damaging his property. Is this where you get your morals from? I sure don’t and I hope you don’t either.

      Today, many atheists are forming communities in which we value humanistic ideals. But as you have pointed out, not everyone who lacks a belief in deities share those same humanistic ideals. although most vocal atheists do.

      I hope you will consider looking into secular humanism. If you are looking for a community, the Society of Ethical Culture would be a great place to start. They are like church but without the make-believe.Google them.