What is your viewpoint on scientists' attempt to land on Mars in order to search for signs of life? Is the exploration of Mars a progressive endeavour, or is it a waste of resources that would be better spent meeting more pressing global needs? - P.O.

The Race to Mars will be expensive, but it is not the culprit some make it out to be — stealing funds better spent on alleviating world hunger. Poverty stems from bad government, not high expenditure in science. I feel compelled to make this qualification, as those disinclined to favor space exploration often say the money is better spent elsewhere. I disagree.

It is simply not true that we are morally obligated to spend all our money helping others, noble as such causes are. Helping the poor, yes! We are expected, as Christians, to help the needy, starting with the needy in one's local fellowship and moving out from there (Gal 6:10). Nor is it true that governments have a Christian obligation to do the right thing. (They simply do what they do; they are not in a covenant relationship with God.)

Consider Jesus' anointing at Bethany. How did he respond when the woman was criticized for "wasting" the alabaster jar of perfume?

... “Let her alone; why do you trouble her? She has performed a good service for me. For you always have the poor with you [see Deut 15:11], and you can show kindness to them whenever you wish; but you will not always have me. She has done what she could; she has anointed my body beforehand for its burial. Truly I tell you, wherever the good news is proclaimed in the whole world, what she has done will be told in remembrance of her” (Mark 14:6-9). So there are times when no expense should be spared.

Nature is God’s world, and by studying this world we learn the truth about God’s ways, wisdom, and majesty (Psalm 19; 104; Rom 1). Referencing the old two-books analogy, Scripture is God’s book of words. Nature is his book of works. We should study both, devoting lavish time and resources to learn all we can. “Wisdom is supreme; therefore get wisdom. Though it cost you all you have, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).