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Author Topic: Life, death, science and religion
Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 04:39      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
An atheist reflects on a brush with death.

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"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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Mel
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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 13:14      Profile for Mel     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
"In the long run, I think religious people can be asked to live up to the same moral standards as secular people in science and medicine."

Amen to that! lol

I find that some people who claim they are Christian or any other religion don't live up to the rules of the religion or practice it at all. They're simply born into it. There are also lots of people who simply just believe in God and Heaven & Hell, but sin all the time. I've also had religious friends/acquaintances/people come to my door and try to bribe me to become Chrisian, Mormon, whatever. "Be religious and you get to go to Heaven!" Seems immoral to me to sell a religion that way. I've also had a Mormon come to my door and say that his religion is more spiritual than other religions.

But anyways, I'm a moral athiest. I believe there is no afterlife and no pre-life. I believe when we die is like how we felt before we were born - no memories - a nothingness. Because I feel this is the only life we have, we should treat it with respect and treat others with respect too to make this life pleasurable to live.

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nerdwithnofriends
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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 13:34      Profile for nerdwithnofriends     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Unfortunately, it seems he is missing the point. I don't consider myself a very religious person (I never pray), but his thesis seems ludicrous.

First of all, he implies that the ability to do something 'useful' is predicated upon not praying- as if the two were mutually exclusive. This is ridiculous; prayer costs nothing for those who indulge in it, save a small amount of time.

Secondly, he makes the mistake- Well, wait, it's not a mistake; he knows what he's saying, so it's deliberate- he makes the analogy of a pharmaceutical company using prayer as an excuse to release a faulty drug.

But that's just the problem; prayer isn't used as justification for anything, because the whole point of prayer is that you don't know whether you're going to get what you want (or expected) or not- there are no guarantees. His comparison of prayer to the processes of the scientific and medical communities is simply invalid.

However, I agree with that last point. If one truly wants to pay back one's god, then prayer is not a good way of doing so. You don't pay someone back by asking for more- though, of course, prayer need not necessarily be a request for aid. Theoretically, yes, the Christian God has all he could posssibly need/want (according to Christian teaching, is he not omnipotent?). Helping other people would be the best way to 'pay him back' or thank him- it makes sense that a God who loves his people would accept any benefits for them as 'payment' enough.


Honestly, I didn't like this article. It smacks of moral elitism- "Oh, well being enlightened, I can justify Atheism. And I'm not going to condemn those silly christians, after all, they're too stupid to know better." You could literally paraphrase one of his arguments as, "Religion lets losers feel good about themselves."

This is an interesting argument, but one I don't feel like gettin ginto right now. It's hard to take this position with my religious beliefs, but if anyone's curoius, they can PM me.

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"The Buddha, the Godhead, resides quite as comfortably in the circuits of a digital computer or the gears of a cycle transmission as he does at the top of a mountain or in the petals of a flower." - Robert M. Pirsig

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GrumpySteen

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 13:59      Profile for GrumpySteen     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Being an atheist myself, I agree with most of the argument points in the article, but I have to say that I dislike the tone of parts of it. Tolerance of the beliefs (not to be confused with the actions) of others is an important part of being civilized.

Sadly, it seems much of the world does not agree with me in that respect.

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 15:08      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Steen:
Being an atheist myself

I thought you were a fundamentalist christian. [Wink]

</troll>

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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Sxeptomaniac

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 16:02      Profile for Sxeptomaniac   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I find it a little odd that he says science isn't his religion, but then spends the article telling us how scientific method is the "Answer" and other religions aren't. It's not that I believe that science (or atheism, for that matter) is a religion, but people do sometimes make it into one, and it seems to me that the author probably has. His proclamation that the scientific method is the highest standard of morality is a strong indication of that. It just made the rest of the article ring a little hollow.

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Let's pray that the human race never escapes from Earth to spread its iniquity elsewhere. - C. S. Lewis

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 17:11      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Sxeptomaniac:
His proclamation that the scientific method is the highest standard of morality is a strong indication of that.

I think you've misunderstood him there Sxepto, he's not claiming that the scientific method is the highest standard of morality, he's simply noting that the 'rules' of science are far more rigorously enforced.

quote:
From TFA:
no religion holds its members to the high standards of moral responsibility that the secular world of science and medicine does...

...Try to imagine your outrage if a pharmaceutical company responded to your suit by blithely replying "But we prayed good and hard for the success of the drug!"

The point he's making here is that science is far less forgiving of 'lapses' than religion. We accept that a priest can give a sermon on the evils of drink in the morning, and get rat-arsed on the communion wine in the afternoon. Such 'moral lapses' are accepted and (depending on ones denomination) forgiven. A scientist who's caught taking liberties with the truth in his published research will find no such forgiveness from his peers.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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Stereo

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 20:52      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, the guy has one major flaw in his faith choice (for lack of a better word). As far as I know, there is no scientific proof of the existence of God, but I never heard of any proof of His non-existence. So a real scientist must be consequent with one's beliefs, and be agnostic. Well, that's how I justify being one myself! [Big Grin]

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Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

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TMBWITW,PB

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 22:03      Profile for TMBWITW,PB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stereo:
Well, the guy has one major flaw in his faith choice (for lack of a better word). As far as I know, there is no scientific proof of the existence of God, but I never heard of any proof of His non-existence. So a real scientist must be consequent with one's beliefs, and be agnostic. Well, that's how I justify being one myself! [Big Grin]

You can't really prove the non-existence of anything. You can get all kinds of evidence that something is incredibly unlikely or that the probability is so low as to approach zero, but actual negative proof isn't the same thing.

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Xanthine

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 22:20      Profile for Xanthine     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
But, at the same time, you can prove that something is impossible.

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And it's one, two, three / On the wrong side of the lee / What were you meant for? / What were you meant for?
- The Decemberists

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 22:52      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stereo:
As far as I know, there is no scientific proof of the existence of God, but I never heard of any proof of His non-existence. So a real scientist must be consequent with one's beliefs, and be agnostic.

Agnosticism is for wooses. "Those who sit on the fence, get splinters".

When a theory is totally unsupported by facts, contradicts much of what we do know about the universe, and appears designed to be unfalsifiable (God is omnipotent, omniscient, and hiding) then that's close enough to 'disproven' for me.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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TMBWITW,PB

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Icon 1 posted November 06, 2006 23:15      Profile for TMBWITW,PB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Xanthine:
But, at the same time, you can prove that something is impossible.

Yeah, except there have been a few notable cases where we thought something was impossible only to find out when it happened that we did the math wrong.

For example until fairly recently it was impossible for a bumble bee to fly looking at the mathematics and physics of it. We've only just figured out exactly how that works.

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"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder and it may be necessary from time to time to give a stupid or misinformed beholder a black eye."
ŚMiss Piggy

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 01:08      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
There is a specific flaw in his argument, which is a variation on the impossibility of proving the non-existence of God. He makes much of some recent academic study that he says proves that prayer does not work. Well of course, if God does exist, it is likely that He would skew the results of any test that might tend to prove His existence.

Nonetheless as an agnostic like Stereo, perversely I admire the faith he shows as an atheist, but more importantly his argument that religious revealed truth is no basis for the conduct of our affairs is unanswerable, (whoops! sliding into politics there). I also like his praise of human rational goodness, as one of the main intellectual objections I have to Christianity is the emphasis it places on sin, guilt, and our unworthy state without divine redemption.

By the way there is much else on that web site that is pretty interesting, if fairly heavyweight stuff.

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"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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Jessycat

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Icon 3 posted November 07, 2006 01:29      Profile for Jessycat     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by TMBWITW,PB:
For example until fairly recently it was impossible for a bumble bee to fly looking at the mathematics and physics of it. We've only just figured out exactly how that works.

Life is so weird! Just yesterday I happened to come across this quote by David Mamet and had absolutely NO idea why he was talking about bumble bees:

"The poker player learns that sometimes both science and common sense are wrong; that the bumblebee can fly; that, perhaps, one should never trust an expert; that there are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of by those with an academic bent."

Thanks for clearing that up for me Peebs! [Smile]

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 03:41      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Callipygous:
He makes much of some recent academic study that he says proves that prayer does not work. Well of course, if God does exist, it is likely that He would skew the results of any test that might tend to prove His existence.

Omniscient, omnipotent, hiding.

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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Callipygous
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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 03:57      Profile for Callipygous     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
By definition a monotheistic God must be ultimately beyond rational understanding, and thus omnipotent, omniscient, and invisible to us, are necessary corollaries. Anything less, by definition, falls within the realm of science rather than faith.

I think the word "hiding" has some associations with slyness and dishonesty that are not appropriate in this context, and indeed believers often speak of how God reveals himself, so if he is hiding he's not very good at it! [Wink]

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"Knowledge is Power. France is Bacon" - Milton

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Mel
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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 07:31      Profile for Mel     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
I think his main point in the article was to state that he'd rather thank all the people who worked hard to save his life and his friends that stood by him than to thank an invisible force for doing all the work.
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Stereo

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 08:10      Profile for Stereo     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:
quote:
Originally posted by Callipygous:
He makes much of some recent academic study that he says proves that prayer does not work. Well of course, if God does exist, it is likely that He would skew the results of any test that might tend to prove His existence.

Omniscient, omnipotent, hiding.
And what about "he doesn't care?" I'm not talking about the Christian/Muslim/Jew's God, but the more general "super-sentient being." Maybe he/she/it just started it all, and have fun observing how it develops, with no intent to act on us. The Ga´a/Super-Ga´a theory could also fit in the "god" definition. (Although I seem to remember this theory has suffered a few blows.)

Actualy, my idea is that CMJ's God (as many other) is just an invention created by men to justify their worst actions* (kill my ennemies - God asked me to; destroy other nations - we are God's chosen few; punish those who think and act differently - they disobey God's rules). And if things don't turn out our way, it's because we didn't pray hard enough. (Yeah, whatever.) Which makes Jesus a great man, for trying to turn this around and use God for peace rather than for perpetuating hatred. But still now, men (and women, of course) thinking that God is on their side too often makes them impervious to common sense and logic. (Before I get flamed, I'm very aware I could be wrong - that's just how I see things, I don't pretend to hold the Truth.)

But back to the topic, atheism is a kind of faith: believing that there is no [gG]od(s). But he states himself that science is about doubth. I believe Ithere is only one way one can have the answer: when one dies. And I'm in no hurry! [Wink] (As for me, I prefer to put my faith in Mankind; that there is more good than bad out there, and that we are making progress toward a better life for all. But you already know that I'm an optimist.)


*And also to answer kid's questions when one doesn't actually know the answers, but that's another matter.

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Eppur, si muove!

Galileo Galilei

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 13:48      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by Stereo:
atheism is a kind of faith: believing that there is no [gG]od(s). But he states himself that science is about doubt.

I would say that science is about drawing conclusions based on evidence.
Having examined the evidence, (and lack thereof) I have concluded that there is no god.
If new evidence comes in, I will review my conclusions.
That's the difference between science and faith, science is based on evidence, and subject to change when new evidence becomes available.

For example: if Jaweh appears before me in a pillar of light, parts the oceans, or changes a bucket of water into wine, I'll change my conclusions about god.
What evidence of the non-existence of god would a christian accept?

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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garlicguy

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 14:07      Profile for garlicguy   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Originally posted by The Famous Druid:


For example: if Jaweh appears before me in a pillar of light, parts the oceans, or changes a bucket of water into wine, I'll change my conclusions about god.


If God is as busy as one could imagine Him to be, wouldn't that be asking a bit much? I mean, TFD, you accept scientific evidence based on the recorded work of others, without requiring a re-enactment of the experiments, etc. , do you not?

What evidence of the non-existence of god would a christian accept?


Excellent question! I don't have a good answer for you, but if you could completely explain the phenomenon known as "time" without God, I'd like to see it. Likewise, how does any teenager survive to adulthood?
[Big Grin]

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I don't know what I was thinking... it seemed like a good idea at the time.

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 14:51      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Well, I tend to think it's hard for anyone to not consider that "some higher power" exists, but its what you choose to call that, and whether you choose to follow an organized religion surrounding that belief that varies.

*Something* had to set off the Big Bang, or put the matter there in the first place...or something of the sort. Following St. Thomas Aquinas, the idea of the 'uncreated creator' or the 'unmoved mover' quite logically points to the concept of "some higher power." OTOH, choosing to kill people because 'they don't believe in the same ${DEITY} that I do' is just plain retarded, and those people should be shot. [Wink]

If the loving and wonderful, all seeing, all knowing ${DEITY} exists that various groups tout, why is there all the hatred, killing and disease present in the world? If the only way for the world to become perfect is to blindly 'believe,' that seems rather implausible. Must we all live in utter misery to lose all hope such that we throw away our cares and embrace these ideas? Why can't we just all agree to treat each other well, and go our merry ways?

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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TMBWITW,PB

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 15:01      Profile for TMBWITW,PB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by dragonman97:
Well, I tend to think it's hard for anyone to not consider that "some higher power" exists, but its what you choose to call that, and whether you choose to follow an organized religion surrounding that belief that varies.

Some higher power like the universe itself maybe?

 -

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dragonman97

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 15:07      Profile for dragonman97   Author's Homepage     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
Peebs: And what created the universe?

Rinse and repeat.

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There are three things you can be sure of in life: Death, taxes, and reading about fake illnesses online...

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TMBWITW,PB

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 15:14      Profile for TMBWITW,PB     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
dman:

That was really just an excuse for me to post the comic. [Wink]

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ŚMiss Piggy

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The Famous Druid

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Icon 1 posted November 07, 2006 15:54      Profile for The Famous Druid     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post   Reply With Quote 
quote:
Originally posted by garlicguy:
If God is as busy as one could imagine Him to be, wouldn't that be asking a bit much?

I'm not suggesting s/he pop round to my home once a week and supply a few buckets of free grog.
But it would seem reasonable, in the context of religious warfare that's costing tens of thousands of people their lives, that perhaps s/he might find time in his/her busy schedule to drop in to a Baghdad mosque on Friday afternoon and say "Hey guys, I was misquoted".

I mean, TFD, you accept scientific evidence based on the recorded work of others, without requiring a re-enactment of the experiments, etc. , do you not?

I might not re-create the experiment myself, but if it's research that's going to re-write the science books, you can bet that someone will. The history of science is littered with the dried-up husks of scientists who published 'revolutionary' research that their peers couldn't replicate. (remember cold-fusion?)

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If you watch 'The History Of NASA' backwards, it's about a space agency that has no manned spaceflight capability, then does low-orbit flights, then lands on the Moon.

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