The United Benefice of Withington, Sevenhampton with Charlton Abbots, Hawling, Whittington, Dowdeswell and Andoversford, Shipton and Cold Salperton
This month's letter from the clergy
“I flew into space, but didn’t see God”
One of the nice things I can sometimes do on holiday is going to back to Churches where you used to minister and meeting old friends. The other Sunday I was able to go to Holme Eden in Cumbria for a very interesting ‘service’ although it was technically not a service but a meeting called ‘Inquisitive’ with input, questions and discussion.
It was all about whether God exists, what the evidence was and considering science. I had long ago heard that Yuri Gagarin the first man in space, was supposed to have said “I flew into space, but didn’t see God”, But it came out that he didn’t say that. It was actually the Russian leader at the time, Khrushchev, who actually said, “Gagarin flew into space and didn’t see God”. It turns out that Gagarin was a baptised member of the Orthodox Church, and was a quiet believer throughout his life. A friend of his who once took him to Church in Lavra says, “I got in trouble because of this trip: I was accused of “dragging Gagarin into religion.” But Gagarin saved me. He said: “How can a Captain drag a Colonel into religion?! He didn’t drive me: we went in my car.” As a result, I was reprimanded according to the party line for “leading Yuri Gagarin into Orthodoxy” – and now I take great pride in this.”
It was interesting to find out that the first man in space was a Christian believer. We were also reminded of how the astronauts in Apollo 8 read from Genesis 1 on Christmas Day as they looked back at the earth.
Christians believe that God is the creator of the Universe which is continues to amaze us. Of course God couldn’t be ‘seen’ in space but we see his workmanship and it is awe-inspiring. I certainly think it makes more sense to say that there is a great mind behind all that is than to say it is just down to chance.