WASHINGTON, May 26, 2015 — “In space, no one can hear you scream.” Or laugh, for that matter.
The House of Representatives has just approved a bill that’s part hubris, part wishful thinking. H.R. 1508, the Space Resource Exploration and Utilization Act, proposes “to increase the exploration and utilization of resources in outer space.”
That’s legalese for asteroid mining.
In keeping with the House GOP leadership’s proclivity for ceding power to the executive branch and its gargantuan bureaucracy, the act stipulates that the “president, acting through appropriate federal agencies, shall … facilitate the commercial exploration and utilization of space resources to meet national needs.”
In other words, House Speaker John Boehner extended the arbitrary power of the imperial presidency beyond “the Moons of Nibia and around the Antares Maelstrom.”
While we are in the realm of science fiction, why not grant President Obama and future presidents sway over, say, time machines? They are nonexistent, like America’s manned space program, which ended when Space Shuttle Atlantis touched down at Cape Canaveral on July 21, 2011.
That’s when NASA Administrator Charles Bolden told the press his agency’s “foremost” mission, as Obama explained it to him, is “to find a way to reach out to the Muslim world and engage much more with dominantly Muslim nations to help them feel good about their historic contribution to science.”
The preeminent member of the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars, Saleh Al-Fawzan, would agree. He said, if you believe “that the Sun stands in place and that the Earth moves … This contradicts the Koran. Ignoring the Quran and adopting modern theories is not something a Muslim can do. A Muslim must follow the Koran.”
Italian astronomer Galileo Galilei ran afoul of the Roman Catholic Inquisition in 1633 for “holding as true the false doctrine taught by some that the sun is the center of the world.” Archbishop Paul Poupard, head of the Pontifical Council for Culture under the papacy of John Paul II, admitted 350 years later, “The judges who condemned Galileo committed an error.”
We may have to get back to the Saudi Council of Senior Scholars 350 years hence. Who knows, by then they might accept the Copernican idea of a heliocentric solar system.
Big government fanatics are equally intransigent. They believe that once a notion, no matter how absurd or unrealistic it is, is written down in legislation, reality magically bends to the fantasies of the fanatic.
Science fiction writer Philip K. Dick said mass media and the government create “spurious realities … I distrust their power. They have a lot of it. And it is an astonishing power: that of creating whole universes, universes of the mind. I ought to know. I do the same thing.”
But Saudi imams and Washington lawmakers see nothing “spurious” in their manufactured realities.