Ray Bradbury on Space Travel

In the course of my tech research I found the following video of Mike Wallace interviewing Ray Bradbury in the wake of the Apollo 11 moon landing.

Here’s the video:

Here’s the transcript:

Wallace:
This is Ray Bradbury. For me, the most evocative, the most persuasive of the science fiction writers. He has gone to space — he’s lived in space — in his fertile imagination off and on since he was a boy of nine. Is this the way that you wrote the script? I think it is. Ray Bradbury.

Bradbury:
Yes, and a lot of other people before me. Jules Verne and H. G. Wells, the great uncles and grandfathers of all of us. When I was down in Houston a few years ago, I discovered in meeting the astronauts that they had read Jules Verne. They had read H. G. Wells. And in a few cases they had read some of my work, which made me feel very good at the time.

Wallace:
But it is astonishing, really, because they are following a script that seems to have been written by various writers over a period of the last half century.

Bradbury:
Yes. Well, I look upon the function of the science fiction writer as being the romantic who starts things in motion, and the astronauts are the actors who come along and flesh it out and put bones inside the dream.

Wallace:
You have said that a single invention, the rocket, is redesigning mankind. Would you elaborate on that?

Bradbury:
Well, it’s redesigning in us in the following ways. I’m willing to predict tonight that by the end of the century, our churches will be full again. That’s redesigning mankind back in the direction of God again.

Wallace:
Because of space travel?

Bradbury:
Because of space travel. Because when we move out into the mystery, when we move out into the loneliness of space, when we begin to discover we really are three billion lonely people on a small world, I think it’s going to draw us much closer together.

Wallace:
Some people suggest that the very fact that we have now gone into space and have been on the other side of the moon has proved that there is no . . . well, the Russians themselves have said that proves that there is no God up there.

Bradbury:
Well, they’re welcome to use any clichés they want to use. And in turn, I hope to be allowed to use my newer clichés. I believe firmly, excitingly, that we are God himself coming awake in the universe. In other words, we exist on a very strange world that we know nothing about. Our theologians have tried to help us understand this. Our scientists have tried to help us understand this. We know nothing. We start in ignorance.

Wallace:
Can man ever feel at home elsewhere than on earth?

Bradbury:
Yes, and he’s going to make himself at home first on the moon. Then we’re going off to Mars. And then we’re going to build ourselves large enough ships to head for the stars, and when we do reach the nearest stars and settle there, we will be at home in the universe. That’s what the whole thing is about. This is an effort on the part of mankind to relate himself to the total universe and to live forever. This is an endeavor to . . .

Wallace:
Wait a minute. Live forever. You mean . . .

Bradbury:
. . . to live forever. This is an effort to become immortal. At the center of all of our religions, all of our sciences, all of our thinking over a good period of years has been the question of death. And if we stay here on earth, we are all of us doomed because someday the sun will either explode or go out. So in order to ensure the entire race existing a million years from today, a billion years from today, we’re going to take our seed out into space and we’re going to plant it on other worlds. And then we won’t have to ask ourselves the question of death ever again. We won’t have to say why existence, why life, why anything. We will stop questioning in those fields.

Wallace:
Well, of course, but as individuals we will die.

Bradbury:
Oh yes.

Wallace:
The race will be immortal, you’re suggesting.

Bradbury:
The same process that goes on in families today will exist for the whole race in a few . . .

Wallace:
You’re a man of peace, obviously.

Bradbury:
Very much so.

Wallace:
What, though, are the military implications of what we’ve seen tonight?

Bradbury:
The military implications are as following. We have finally, after thousands of years of search, found a substitute for war, which I think is beautiful. The rocket and the exploration of space can be as exciting as war, can be as masculine as war.

Wallace:
A moral substitute for war.

Bradbury:
It can be the wonderful moral substitute we’ve been searching for. We’ve always wanted something to yell and jump up and down about. And war is a great toy to play with. Men and boys loved war. They pretended at times that they don’t love it, but they do. Now we’ve found a greater love, one that can bind us all together, one that can fuse the entire race into one solid mass of people following a single ideal. Now let’s use this thing. Let’s name this ideal and let us eliminate war because the proper enemy is before us. All of the universe doesn’t care whether we exist or not, but we care whether we exist. Now we’ve named the universe as the enemy and go out to do battle with it. That’s the big enemy. And this is the proper war to fight.

Wallace:
Conquer the universe.

Bradbury:
Absolutely.

Mike Wallace:
And conquer it peacefully.

Bradbury:
Peacefully, with these fabulous tools that we’ve been watching tonight on TV.

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