I was motivated to improve the U.S. strategy of going back to the moon in 1985. That's a long time ago. Going back to the moon would be a great achievement for tourism adventure flights.
There's a historical milestone in the fact that our Apollo 11 landing on the moon took place a mere 66 years after the Wright Brothers' first flight.
Bringing an asteroid back to Earth? What's that have to do with space exploration? If we were moving outward from there, and an asteroid is a good stopping point, then fine. But now it's turned into a whole planetary defense exercise at the cost of our outward exploration.
Nobody cares about the bronze or silver medals.
You need propellants to accelerate toward Mars, then to decelerate at Mars, again to re-accelerate from Mars to Earth, and finally to decelerate back at Earth. Accordingly, the mass of these required propellants, in short, drives our need for innovative launch vehicles.
Over the years, I think I've matured in my spiritual evolution and development to understand a bit more than the narrow religious thinking - to move beyond that through a sort of perfection of the grandiose nature of the universe, and how perfect it is it in its sense and how satisfied we should all be in our place in that.