I've been a part of three discussions on FB with the same basic theme: bombing the moon is not only a boondoggle, it is profoundly, epically immoral. I'd like to summarize the two points of view which oppose this mission, and then invite discussion.
Some have spoken from a practical point of view: the money could be allocated to more down-to-earth needs; the pollution caused by each launch egregiously exacerbates our existing environmental problem; we have gained little of value that helps all humanity for the massive expenditures thus far (or, more succinctly, low ROI).
Most of the responses have been visceral (I tried to call it metaphorical or mythological in nature, but got no positive response, so I assume that misses the boat). Visceral, as in:
"that rock is part of my body... and our souls."
"Let's go scout out some other place where we can rape the land, instead of taking responsibility for the land here and changing our behavior."
"I don't buy the argument that what is done in destructive, macro mode is mitigated by our learning something. I'm quite sure we could figure out whatever it is we need to know about the moon by going inside."
"I feel that the gut level, feminine, right brain response that tells me this is wrong is just as valid as the rational left half. To me this discussion is emblematic of why it's so important for people to be using both sides of the brain and not just validate the left brain approach, which is often amoral by definition. This is a lesson I think science needs to get. Metaphorically it is akin to plucking Tinkerbell's wings and I'm sick of it."
My position has been to say that this is a harmless experiment, but to agree that these launches polluted a lot. I've also said that NASA's annual budget (about $18 billion, I was told) amounts to about two weeks of military spending, which is more abhorrent. There tends to be confusion between the kind of thinking that gives birth to information, and the kind that gives birth to meaning. I think moral decisions need both kinds of thought – and both kinds of thinkers.
Now. I'm not interested in calling two armies to battle here. I certainly do not want any of my friends taking cheap shots at my other friends because they think differently. It's because of those differences that I think this discussion will be fascinating. What I AM very interested in getting at is what this response tells us about the ways we view the world and our place in it, and what we can learn from each other by having a discussion like this while keeping in mind these different kinds of thought with which humans have been gifted (if I may be permitted a metaphorical reference to a literal theism in which I do not believe).
I know I'm asking a lot, and thanks for taking the time to read this. I hope to foster a good, respectful, enlightening discussion. I've tagged some folks who have been part of these discussions and others who I think might be particularly adept at getting the ball rolling.
So what do you think? Was it okay that we bombed the moon, or not? And why do you think so?