Thursday, 14 April 2011

50 Years Ago: Comrade Gagarin Did Not See God in Outer Space

Yuri Gagarin in 1964. Image courtesy of

Joel Kontinen

For Soviet Union, its space programme was an ideological competition against the United States. When Yuri Gagarin orbited the earth 50 years ago, the Soviets interpreted it as evidence for the superiority of the communist system.

Having returned from his 108- minute long space flight, comrade Gagarin said that he had not seen God in outer space.

C. S. Lewis, who was a former atheist, commented on the incident in his essay Seeing Eye that was later published in Christian Reflections. He suggested that many had claimed that they had not seen Shakespeare in Shakespeare’s dramas. According to Lewis, it would be foolish to try to discover God as something He Himself had made.

On the other side of the Atlantic, space travellers took an approach that differed diametrically from that of the first cosmonaut. The Apollo 8 astronauts, for instance, read the first ten verses of Genesis in a direct broadcast to all the people “on the good earth”. For them, space proclaimed the glory of God.


Lewis, C. S. 1968. Entisen ateistin kristillisiä esseitä. (Christian Reflections).Translated by Olavi Aula. Porvoo: WSOY.

Virkkula, Simopekka. 2011. Toveri G. nuuhkaisi tähtiä. Aamulehti 12 April, B15.