My opinion of astronauts has declined precipitously

A new, partially reusable spacecraft, the Boeing Starliner, was launched earlier this week. That’s great. I’m not enthusiastic about manned space exploration, but I see it as a tool to help science learn new things, so go for it.

It’s Boeing, which isn’t such a great brand anymore, and it’s unsurprising that the capsule had leakage problems, but I expect those will be corrected. I have a bigger problem with the mission, though.

The commander, Barry Wilmore, is a fucking pig-ignorant creationist.

And it’s off! After several delays, Boeing’s Starliner capsule officially launched its first-ever manned flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida, and is on its way to the International Space Station. Among the crew on board is a friend of ours—Captain Barry “Butch” Wilmore, a Christian and a biblical creationist! And Captain Wilmore isn’t just on board—he is commanding this historic flight!

Wilmore used the time just before launch to promote Ken Ham’s creation crap.

And as they prepared to leave, Captain Wilmore was telling everyone about Answers in Genesis, the Ark Encounter, and the Creation Museum and how everyone needs to come and visit!

He’s going to use the ISS as a backdrop to plug Answers in Genesis merch.

Many months ago at his request, we sent him a variety of AiG, Ark Encounter, and Creation Museum apparel, which were then sent to the ISS and are waiting for him. He plans to put on the apparel and take some photos. Wow, AiG, the Ark, and the museum will be represented in outer space (I never would have dreamed of that 49 years ago when I gave my first creation talk)! Hopefully, we will have photos to share in the coming days.

This is inappropriate. A NASA astronaut is using a scientific platform to preach anti-science nonsense.

I will make a mental note, reminding myself that astronauts are nothing but glorified space truck drivers, and that clearly any idiot can fly one with enough training. That this dope has this prestigious job demeans the work and sacrifices of all the other astronauts.


  1. seversky says

    They’re not even truck-drivers, they’re just passengers. The computers do all the flying with manual override as a sop to their human egos.

  2. seversky says

    This is inappropriate. A NASA astronaut is using a scientific platform to preach anti-science nonsense.

    I hope the FFRF will take this up

  3. consciousness razor says

    Boing! I think my opinion of (most) astronauts has improved slightly over the years, but I’ve always had a pretty high opinion of (most) of them. I guess that’s the bigger difficulty for me, personally. They are able to live and work together without blowing everything up at least. Your problem (if it’s a “problem”) is that you didn’t know that you were already living in space, apparently. We should think about living in space more often, but I don’t think I can give a coherent answer to the question of where we go when we’re not living in space.

  4. Matt G says

    They sent AiG apparel to the ISS and it’s there waiting for him?? When I tried mailing something to the ISS, the Post Office said it wasn’t a deliverable address.

  5. robro says

    The Boeing Starliner leaked? At least a hidden door didn’t to blow off.

    Anti-science Christian goes to space to do science? So he can be closer to god?

    The irony just keeps on coming.

  6. Walter Solomon says

    If it weren’t for the Challenger disaster, there would likely be actual truck drivers, and variety of other professions, in space by now.

    I wonder what do you we learn by sending people into space as opposed to satellites? Do you we not know enough about how microgravity effects the human body at this point? I fail to see how sending people into space greatly benefits science.

  7. mamba says

    Is he a flat Earther too? Please tell me he’s a flat earthers too if we’re throwing out reality in his head!
    I wanna watch his head explode if he starts promoting THAT while floating in space looking at a round planet.

  8. raven says

    Who hired this guy anyway?
    There are 330 million people in the USA. There had to be someone more qualified.

    Oh right. It’s Boeing.
    If it isn’t parts of a vehicle falling off, it is something else going wrong.

  9. Matt G says

    When JWST’s launch was delayed to December 25th, NASA head Bill Nelson used that platform to push Christianity (though he was very cagey about it (like not using a certain savior’s name)). He should have mentioned that it was, appropriately, Newtonmas. He could have shared the saying that all you need to get to the moon and back is Newton’s laws.

  10. mathman85 says

    mamba @8

    AiG is vehemently opposed to FLERFism, which is kinda ironic, given the degree to which they claim to be biblically literalist. FLERFs that are also YECs have a more internally-consistent hermeneutic than do YECs that aren’t FLERFs.

  11. consciousness razor says

    A flat earther, a flat timer, a flat spacetimer, a round earther, a round timer, and a round spacetimer walk into a bar (somewhere in the block universe, apparently) in order to order a big bowl of fruit punch for each other…. What happens after that, and who pays for the punch?

  12. StevoR says

    The commander, Barry Wilmore, is a fucking pig-ignorant creationist.

    Um, you do know about Harrison Schmitt of Apollo 17 only scientist towalk onthe Moon fame right, PZ? :

    Plus Charles Duke :

    As well as Jim Irwin & his quest for Noah’s ark :

    I mean, yeah, its disappointing and you’d expect better but, its niot a first and, well, individuals are individual.

    Astronauts (& cosmonauts and taikonauts) included.

  13. StevoR says

    Plenty of counter-examples too..

    Again, individuals and percentages and people being people. IOW often wrong and flawed and believing messed up things.

  14. Ridana says

    @3 Iasius wrote:

    A German news site just reported that Barry Wilmore fucked up the mission./s

    Could you elaborate for those of us who don’t know German? I’m afraid I’m missing what’s sarcastic about your statement that needs the /s tag.

  15. StevoR says

    AS Carl Sagan indirectly (?) pointed out in Contact culture and politics and expectations plays a role in who gets selected and anti-athiest discrimination is a thing esp in the US of A.

    They’re astronauts not critical thinkers or philosophers and they take their cultural backgrounds and foci and cultural shaping with them esp when it has no mission critica;implications. If its not going tocrash their ship , well,.. yeah, its sad and wrong but not surprised. Percentages, Americans..

    @14 : Buzz Aldrin’s lunar communion too,

    ABC news :

    I also wonder how that alternative reality where John Glenn became POTUS would’ve worked out.. If only? Maybe?

  16. nomaduk says

    Ridana@16: It’s basically satire, á la The Onion. The story is about how Wilmore neglected to hit the Stop button (as on a bus) as Starliner approached the ISS, so they missed their stop and are heading back down to Earth again.

  17. lasius says


    It’s a satirical news site, similar to the Onion. You can translate the text with any translator without losing the joke. It’s a reference on how buses and trams in Germany often require you to push a “stop” button in advance for it to actually stop at a station where noone is waiting.

  18. drew says

    It’s manned space flight, so it’s fake science to begin with. Wilmore is just mixing non-science that you enjoy with non-science that you don’t.

    The ISS is less a scientific platform than it is an entertainment platform. Or a funding singularity.

  19. StevoR says

    @1. seversky : “They’re not even truck-drivers, they’re just passengers. The computers do all the flying with manual override as a sop to their human egos.””

    Spam in a can, a monkey’s gunna *(did) go first. Ever seen / read The Right Stuff?


    They did it, We remember their names and what they did was still pretty astounding and awesome and I’d love to have a chance to do it.. Humanity still learnt a lot from it,

    Science was gained through it. Knowledge aquired, people inspired. Awe & wonder invoked. Progress made. Worlds – literally another world – explored. As far as we know the furthest any living thing has deliberately boldly gone since Tiktalik* crawled outta the ocean

    .* Or a similar species that went unfossilised. Anyhow..

  20. StevoR says

    @20. drew : Yeesh, I didn’t think I could think less of you here but here we are. I do.

    “Fake science.” WTF?

    Willful ignorance is as Drew types..

  21. springa73 says

    People who are very capable in one area can be very foolish in another area. Being a creationist doesn’t necessarily make someone bad at the specific job they have to do as an astronaut. If he was a biologist, yes, he would be bad at his job.

  22. weylguy says

    American taxpayers are being suckered into thinking that “space exploration” means flying 200 miles above the ground.

  23. Akira MacKenzie says

    Cue the usual suspects to lecture us in superior, nagging, tones that his filthy primitive superstitions deeply-held and sincere spiritual beliefs have no bearing oh his job, we have to respect his shit-smeared barbaric stupidity faith, and atheists “are no better than the fundamentalists… blah…blah…blah” for bringing the fact up at all.

    Fuck that shit.

  24. says

    One brain dead creationist astronaut, who is now dead, stupidly claims without evidence that the famous Archaeopteryx fossil specimen is a fake specimen that was secretly carved by scientists in the lab. Did he have proof of this? Nope. He just simply pulled it out of his arse and make that smelly excrement known.

  25. tedw says

    I have no problem with launching creationists into space. As long as we don’t bring them back.

  26. flange says

    Putting a billion dollars of technology and labor into sending a can of people into space does not make astronauts “heroes.”

  27. John Morales says

    Astronauts still have a tinge of the mystique they had when it took “the right stuff” to become one.
    But that’s fading, I think.

    Akira, I personally can’t see how his creationist belief in any way compromises his job, other than potentially breaching his terms of employment, but that doesn’t mean I respect his beliefs.

    (In short, you are conflating two different claims into one)

  28. skeptuckian says

    My opinion would go up if NASA chose Space Truckin’ as the program’s theme song!

  29. John Morales says

    [Not that I have a problem with Machine Head, skeptuckian, but come on!]

  30. indianajones says

    @29 Pierce. The crack about a monkey going first is a quote from The Right Stuff (and from actual reality) not a fact claim by StevoR

  31. birgerjohansson says

    As I watched the space coverage, I heard him talk about “God, family and nation” from his place in the cabin, the trinity I associate with both fascism and Xian fundamentalists.
    It made me instantly suspicious – was these talking points mirroring the position if NASA?

  32. John Morales says

    It made me instantly suspicious – was [were] these talking points mirroring the position if [of] NASA?


  33. gijoel says

    Didn’t Ham decry the amount of money spent on the Homophobe space telescope. Didn ‘t he call for funding to NASA be ceased and have it redirected to his stupid Noah theme park. Oh wait, he didn’t say the last part aloud.

  34. says

    According to the German news site this is the reason the Astronauts forgot to press the stop button. “According to NASA astronauts Barry Wilmore and Suni Williams, who were on board the space capsule and with whom radio contact is maintained, the two were too engrossed in their smartphones, which they used to pass the boring time of the journey.”
    Here’s me thinking that when the Creationist Captain realised his space capsule was made by Boeing he was too busy praying.

  35. StevoR says

    @35. indianajones : Yes. Love the Right Stuff book and the movie is good too.

    @38. gijoel : Yes. Pretty much. See among other places :

    The Panda’s Thumb blog also has a recent post on Phidippus audax (Jumping spider) for the arachnophiles and PZ here if they haven’t already seen.. ( ) WARNING for the arachnophobes – immediate big spider pic on that link.)

    @ 29. Pierce R. Butler : “Nope: Laika, the Soviet space dog, went first.”

    Poor Laika.

    Actually if we’re going to be technically accurate here the very first living creatures intentionally sent into space were wine flies :

    While many flights into space may have accidentally carried bacteria and other forms of life on board, the first living creatures intentionally sent into space were fruit flies. These were transported aboard a V2 rocket on 20 February 1947.
    The fruit flies were launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico as part of a research mission. The unnamed rocket travelled 67 miles into the air before parachuting back to Earth. NASA currently recognises the altitude of 66 miles (100km) as the point where space officially begins. Therefore, the fruit flies are considered the first animals ever to reach the final frontier.

    Source :

  36. Silentbob says

    @ StevoR

    Laika went into orbit. As a fellow space nut you know that’s completely different.

    (Shepard vs. Glenn)

  37. StevoR says

    @41. Silentbob : Yes but the context here was the first sub-orbital flights for the craft and for animals and people alike. Orbital trajectories came later for both. Luanr landings so far only Humans – imagine the first dog walking on the moon.. (Wonder if that thought inspired the eponymous cartoonist!)

    As for Laika well, musical tribute to her (Trentemøller – Moan) makes me tear up every time.

  38. StevoR says

    @ ^ John Morales : Cheers. Much appreciated.

    Oh and remembered the other astronaist Iwas gunna mention in my first comment here Edgar Mitchell :

    With his woo-y beliefs.

    But still as noted earlier people are people and individual people hold strange illogical views (most illogical even – sadly sometimes downright awful) yet Mitchell was competent and capable at doing what he did so.. Not a creationist or Christianist or Climate Science-Denier anyhow.

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