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Apollo 16 Pilot in Marble Falls to Talk Faith, Science

Charlie Duke salutes the flag during his April 1972 trip to the moon. He was the 10th of 12 men to walk on the moon. A man of science and faith, Duke is giving a presentation on those topics at noon Sunday, July 15, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 1803 RR 1431 in Marble Falls. Photo by NASA

MARBLE FALLS — Charlie Duke brings a unique perspective to both Christian faith and science. After all, Duke is one of only 12 people to walk on the moon.

“Charlie, he’s had some great adventures,” said Jerry Bostick, a friend of the Apollo 16 astronaut. “But he’s always looked for adventure, even after he walked on the moon.”

His search for the grandest adventure did not take him back to space but to God.

“He fully realized his next adventure was to turn his life over to God,” Bostick said. “He is someone who sees how faith and science aren’t two separate things but go together.”

Duke will share how science and faith are intertwined Sunday, July 15, at St. Peter’s Lutheran Church, 1803 RR 1431. The public is invited to attend worship at 9:30 a.m. that day with a free lunch at 11 a.m. for the first people who sign up. Go to stpetersmarblefalls.org or call (830) 693-2253. Then, Duke will give a presentation at noon. You don’t have to go to the service or the lunch to attend the program.

Duke’s visit is part of the congregation’s exploration of the relationship between science and faith. The church’s associate pastor, the Rev. Harold Vanicek, is on a sabbatical to explore the two. He is visiting several observatories as well as Brother Guy Consolmagno, the director of the Vatican Observatory in Rome.

During his sabbatical, the church is hosting several speakers, including Duke.

The Rev. Danielle Moore Casey, St. Peter’s senior pastor, said Duke’s visit can help people realize that being a person of faith doesn’t mean you can’t be a person of science, or vice versa.

“There are some people who think science and faith are incompatible,” she said. “I think part of that is because, so often, we want everything figured out. We want an answer to every question, and we’ll often turn to science to try and answer that, which, for some people, puts them in a spot where they might question faith. How can you have both?”

Casey has no problem being a Christian and accepting science and scientific inquiry. She celebrates both knowing she’ll never get all the answers while on earth. Science might answer some of her questions, but faith always has a place.

“I think we’ve lost some of that awe and wonder,” she said.

Bostick, a retired NASA engineer who helped get Apollo 8 to the moon, sees no conflict between science and faith.

“With my engineering background, I want to know how things work, I really do,” he said. “But when it comes to faith and grace, I just accept it.”

A great example of faith and science coming together for Bostick happened while he was in flight control during the Apollo 8 moon shot. He worked trajectory and guidance, which is actually responsible for getting the flight to the moon.

“Going to the moon is like duck hunting,” Bostick explained. “You don’t shoot at where the duck is; you shoot out in front of it.”

It was up to trajectory and guidance to put the spacecraft on a path to where the moon should be when they crossed, but Bostick had no control over the moon.

He knew who did though.

“I knew, ‘God, you’re going to get the moon to the right spot.’ And he did,” Bostick said. “Apollo 8, I felt like it was a religious experience.”

In today’s world, where so many answers are in the palm of our hands with smartphones, it’s easy to lose sight of the wonders God puts before us. Without that, people sometimes lose faith and believe humans can figure it all out. Bostick and Casey hope people will recapture that sense of wonder and become comfortable with the unknown through Duke’s experiences and testimony — and also come to the realization that science and faith are really two sides of the same coin.

“I hope that what we all experience, after hearing Charlie, is more questions and more wonder in all our lives,” Bostick said. “Know that there is a relationship between faith and science. In the end, I hope we all become better explorers.”

Casey agreed.

“Science is great at telling us how something happened or how it works, but faith is about the who,” she said. “At the end of the day, when I see a sunset, I know God created it.”

daniel@thepicayune.com

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