Space Exploration and Religion

There has been religion and related “accoutrements” embedded in mankind’s space endeavors since the early days of space flight.  Religion has been to the Moon.  Religion was not, however, an informational component included in the Voyager 1 and 2 missions’ Golden Record.  Perhaps we should have actually:  who knows, “V-ger” may have returned to us one day with a solution to we Earthlings fragmented notion of “God” and our vastly diverse religions and spiritual orientations.  The “V-ger” of Star Trek came looking for its “Creator”….but another scenario would be that Voyager 1 or 2 is found by an “alien race”, and returned to Earth with higher information showing us what fools we are for not recognizing and honoring our Oneness, in the fullest sense.

The Voyagers speed on, now 42 years, and handlers at JPL grow older, some retiring, younger ones moving up the mission hierarchy.  Soon trips into space will become routine, and eventually no doubt there will be colonies on the Moon (I just read that the Chinese have sprouted cotton seeds on the far side of the lunar landscape).  Of course the mission to Mars will happen, in some form, probably within my lifetime (I hope).

So with all the technology that human beings must muster to carry our tender bodies to such far destinations, seeking to expand our presence further into our Sun’s system, we also transport our non-material “baggage”:  our feelings, worldviews, sense of what we may want the future to hold, wishes, all those things that make each of us individuals, and for most of us, religious beliefs.  How various “Earthly” religious rituals and practices will be taken “out there” will be worked out as we go I suspect.  Certain adjustments and accommodations have already been made on previous missions, such as for Islamic prayer ritual.

How our religious views evolve as we move further away from this blue globe we can only speculate.  Will we propagate our Earthly religions intact, or eventually come to a new religion or even new religions, “customized” for particular space locations, such as Mars?  I do not see a small group of people on Mars, probably based there until they die, not somehow unconsciously synthesizing a new belief system that is unifying, at least for the majority of new “Martians.”  And, will the evolution of religion on far flung missions affect what is being practiced back her on terra firma and high seas? Then, even more hypothetical a question, is what if we eventually do make “first contact” with an “alien race”?  Will we try to convert them to some Earthly variety of religion?  Or will we be the ones “converted”?  Of course, for some extant worshippers here on Earth, the possibility of meeting “others” is not even a consideration, given their basic religious beliefs.

Religion in space holds great intrigue really, for it is religion that for much of the world’s population continues to circumscribe what they see themselves as being.  However, “being” and sense of self will no doubt be touched in many ways over the coming decades – and beyond.

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