GOD IN SPAAAAAACE! Does Religion Have a Place Among the Stars?

Picture: Ezekiel's Wheel, Artist Unknown (PD)

Via LiveScience:

If and when mankind develops the capacity for interstellar voyage, should religion com along for the ride? A group of religious leaders recently tackled the topic at a symposium in Texas, and opinions were more varied than you might think.

Some argued against it, including a California-based Southern Baptist minister (who has apparently never met his Deep South brethren):

“The only way humanity can survive is if they leave behind the Earth-based religions,” charged Rev. Alvin Carpenter, pastor at First Southern Baptist Church West Sacramento. “If there’s any way to make this fail, bring Earth-bound religions.”

Religions, he argued, breed aggression and conflict, citing the violent history of his own faith, Christianity, in episodes such as the Inquisition and the Crusades. Many religions’ negative stance on homosexuality has driven young gay people to commit suicide, he said.

“When you bring a religion on a starship, you bring the toxicity that we have seen on Earth,” Carpenter argued. “This is something that we do not wish to export to the stars.”

“All it takes is one charismatic fundamentalist, with a Bible or a Koran in his or her hand,” to spark conflict aboard a starship, he added.

Others, predictably, saw interstellar travel as an opportunity for expansion:

The church has the resources, funding and reach to garner support for an interstellar mission, said Jason Batt, group life director at Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif. Batt said there is “spiritual potential” in space travel and that the church should begin preparing an organization for an off-planet ministry.

To me, the question is how you would leave religion behind? It seems to be part of the human condition, at least here on Earth. Would religious impulses spring anew or flounder in the inky blackness of space? How would one even begin to screen potential travelers for such a thing? Should you?

Read more at LiveScience.

58 Comments on "GOD IN SPAAAAAACE! Does Religion Have a Place Among the Stars?"

  1. Alvin Carpenter | Sep 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm |

    Hello Matt; Enjoyed your comments. Made me smile which I have had not much chance to do that of late. Maybe religion is not a part of the human condition, maybe it is time we left it behind and learn to believe in God, or not, without religion. It is not our believes that are so destructive, it is that they always have to be imposed on others. My paper is posted on my website at alvincarpenter.com.
    Thanks again for making me smile with “who has apparently never met his Deep South brethren.”

  2. Alvin Carpenter | Sep 20, 2012 at 7:55 pm |

    Hello Matt; Enjoyed your comments. Made me smile which I have had not much chance to do that of late. Maybe religion is not a part of the human condition, maybe it is time we left it behind and learn to believe in God, or not, without religion. It is not our believes that are so destructive, it is that they always have to be imposed on others. My paper is posted on my website at alvincarpenter.com.
    Thanks again for making me smile with “who has apparently never met his Deep South brethren.”

    • Matt Staggs | Sep 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

      Pastor Carpenter! Such a pleasure to read your comment, and I can’t wait to dive into your paper. I’m so glad that you took the comment about your counterparts down south in the way it was intended. Intelligent and compassionate people of faith (or no faith) are always welcome around my proverbial campfire. I’m a resident of Mississippi, and it’s sad to say that my experiences with some of the Southern Baptist churches here have not been as pleasant. I do hope that we’ll have an opportunity to correspond further.

    • Matt Staggs | Sep 20, 2012 at 8:14 pm |

      Pastor Carpenter! Such a pleasure to read your comment, and I can’t wait to dive into your paper. I’m so glad that you took the comment about your counterparts down south in the way it was intended. Intelligent and compassionate people of faith (or no faith) are always welcome around my proverbial campfire. I’m a resident of Mississippi, and it’s sad to say that my experiences with some of the Southern Baptist churches here have not been as pleasant. I do hope that we’ll have an opportunity to correspond further.

    • lifobryan | Sep 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

      ‘ “The only way humanity can survive is if they leave behind the Earth-based religions,” charged Rev. Alvin Carpenter, pastor’

      I was so glad to read this enlightened quote from a Pastor – and I certainly look forward to reading your paper. Having spent time in The South, I know there actually are many voices of compassion and reason, but they are usually drowned out by the loud & frightened. 

      A tangental comment on “earth-based religion” … As a neo-pagan I am very intrigued by this notion. Traditional pagan deities and spirits were usually location-based … and were often left behind when a population migrated, in favor of the gods of whatever land they came to. YHWH was unique in that (H)e migrated with (H)is chosen people – and was clearly annoyed (to the point of murderous tantrum) whenever the migrating Hebrews instinctively embraced the land & weather gods of Canaan. 

      I often wonder about the land & local gods that will be encountered & imagined on distant planets … and whether or not YHWH will come along for this ride too.

    • lifobryan | Sep 20, 2012 at 9:05 pm |

      ‘ “The only way humanity can survive is if they leave behind the Earth-based religions,” charged Rev. Alvin Carpenter, pastor’

      I was so glad to read this enlightened quote from a Pastor – and I certainly look forward to reading your paper. Having spent time in The South, I know there actually are many voices of compassion and reason, but they are usually drowned out by the loud & frightened. 

      A tangental comment on “earth-based religion” … As a neo-pagan I am very intrigued by this notion. Traditional pagan deities and spirits were usually location-based … and were often left behind when a population migrated, in favor of the gods of whatever land they came to. YHWH was unique in that (H)e migrated with (H)is chosen people – and was clearly annoyed (to the point of murderous tantrum) whenever the migrating Hebrews instinctively embraced the land & weather gods of Canaan. 

      I often wonder about the land & local gods that will be encountered & imagined on distant planets … and whether or not YHWH will come along for this ride too.

    • cakey pig | Sep 20, 2012 at 11:17 pm |

      Your paper makes for an interesting, and thought provoking read, but it’s a shame that it’s based entirely on the Abrahamic religions. Most of what you say just doesn’t apply to Buddhism or Hinduism, for example, yet you seem to be quite happy to tar everyone with your broad Abrahamic brush.
      I don’t think Zen ‘…seeks to expand by coercion’…. 😉

      • lifobryan | Sep 20, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

        Is Zen a religion or a philosophy? Would it be valid to assume “religion” is something that has a specifically theistic component? Hence the predisposition toward coercion & evangelism? I think “Abrahamic” monotheism is just the most culturally obvious & pertinent repeat offender. 

        • cakey pig | Sep 21, 2012 at 8:24 am |

          I only use Zen as a single example to show how the author has confused the particular with the general, and forgotten to take off his Christian-Western glasses before he sits down to write.

          You think Abrahamic monotheism is the most ‘culturally obvious’… to us Americans and Europeans maybe, but the Abrahamic religions only account for about 55% of the worlds’ beliefs.

           If I wrote an article about cars, and what I said only actually applies to 55% of them, then you could rightly say that I should have mentioned the other 45%.

          It’s not just the author that is guilty of this specific type of cultural myopia… Atheists always pick their battles on solid Abrahamic ground, because it’s always such an easy fight, and then they say they have defeated all religion with their hyperbole and rhetoric.

          I read below that you are a neo-pagan, and I’m puzzled… so you think it’s okay to be tarred with all this Christian/Islam/Jew crap?

          • lifobryan | Sep 21, 2012 at 11:48 am |

            I guess I just don’t see it as tarring me. He kind of ignores anything non-Abrahamic-monotheistic, and focuses his critique on the abuses of monotheistic imperialist assumption. And if that’s what he wants to leave behind here on earth, I’m all for it. 

            That said, it comes down to how you define “religion.” And I take your point – he does not acknowledge anything non-theistic as “religion.” And I guess I’m okay with that, because “religion” to this western culture generally refers to a tribally biased narrative mythology that liturgizes prejudice and hegemony.

            Neo-paganism is pretty wide umbrella (full of lots of wonderfully shaped holes) – and I think it looks at religion more etymologically …. as a way to “re-link” with cosmic & spiritual forces. Many of them tied to earth.

            My response to Rev Carpenter noted an irony. Classic pagan practice celebrated localized deities that were discarded when a populace migrated or situations changed. YHWH was a uniquely migratory deity that carried his (occasionally genocidal) cultural practices wherever his chosen ones migrated. 

            As humans leave earth and settle elsewhere, I wonder what other spiritual forces will be encountered, and will they relate at all to those here on earth?

            And I’m sure there are many who hope that monotheism stays here on earth … or at least gets ejected as excess baggage. 

        • cakey pig | Sep 21, 2012 at 8:24 am |

          I only use Zen as a single example to show how the author has confused the particular with the general, and forgotten to take off his Christian-Western glasses before he sits down to write.

          You think Abrahamic monotheism is the most ‘culturally obvious’… to us Americans and Europeans maybe, but the Abrahamic religions only account for about 55% of the worlds’ beliefs.

           If I wrote an article about cars, and what I said only actually applies to 55% of them, then you could rightly say that I should have mentioned the other 45%.

          It’s not just the author that is guilty of this specific type of cultural myopia… Atheists always pick their battles on solid Abrahamic ground, because it’s always such an easy fight, and then they say they have defeated all religion with their hyperbole and rhetoric.

          I read below that you are a neo-pagan, and I’m puzzled… so you think it’s okay to be tarred with all this Christian/Islam/Jew crap?

  3. if there is a God
    He/She/It would not allow humans to leave earth
    which is why God created the Van Allen Belt

    • Calypso_1 | Sep 21, 2012 at 11:04 am |

      Space-time be within you My genetically modified monkey child.

      • gimme that ol’ space-time religion

        • Calypso_1 | Sep 21, 2012 at 11:33 pm |

          If thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

            id est in the land of the blind the man with one eye is king?  

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 22, 2012 at 3:35 pm |

            id est in the land of the blind the man with one eye is king?  

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

            L’Id est souvent manifesté par le Roi aux y eux de l’un.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 22, 2012 at 10:08 pm |

            L’Id est souvent manifesté par le Roi aux y eux de l’un.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 23, 2012 at 1:24 am |

            id est = i.e. = that is in hifalutinspeak

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 23, 2012 at 9:37 am |

            L’Id est l’impulsion primitive de la Jouissance en éruption.

            À quelle hauteur faut-il erupte ?

            Cela dépend de la charge de cathexis.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

            Dont worry, Im getting a job soon.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 24, 2012 at 1:33 pm |

            Dont worry, Im getting a job soon.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

            You feel an employer is the best way to harness your primal urges? 
            Perhaps I underestimate your ability to sublimate or you in fact have skills that make your vocation rather interesting to say the least.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 24, 2012 at 2:21 pm |

            You feel an employer is the best way to harness your primal urges? 
            Perhaps I underestimate your ability to sublimate or you in fact have skills that make your vocation rather interesting to say the least.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

            Sir, you could hardly underestimate my current auspices.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 24, 2012 at 5:03 pm |

            Sir, you could hardly underestimate my current auspices.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

            Are you implying that the auspices under which you operate are what empowers your sublimation of cathexis? 

            In which case my estimation of yourself would hold no sway in regards to any estimation, that as of yet hardly having been made of said auspex; unless you yourself make claim to some degree of henosis or apotheosis with this emanation you may proclaim as your current.

          • Calypso_1 | Sep 24, 2012 at 5:25 pm |

            Are you implying that the auspices under which you operate are what empowers your sublimation of cathexis? 

            In which case my estimation of yourself would hold no sway in regards to any estimation, that as of yet hardly having been made of said auspex; unless you yourself make claim to some degree of henosis or apotheosis with this emanation you may proclaim as your current.

          • kowalityjesus | Sep 24, 2012 at 5:48 pm |

            The extent of my apotheosis and henosisis most evident in slumber:) I applaudyour perceptivity with respectto my apparent sublimation. The auspices I’ve come to know have knowledge and sway over my cathexis and its sublimation to the degree that I can hardly complain for wont.

  4. Drukindeitsaf | Sep 21, 2012 at 12:34 am |

    Why god? Why only one god? Why not many different nice gods? What is the problem with many gods? When people prayed to many gods, they did not kill each other because of religion. All religions nightmare started from from imposing bible’s&koran’s god. Imposing by force and with blood. Why do we need worship god of “god’s chosen people”? Why do we need brainwash our kids teaching their history. 
    Lets worship Earth, Universe, Love, Wisdom, etc… We have our own forgotten history, so lets remember it.  

    • Um…. I heard that during the glorious age of polytheism and of the matriarchal hierarchy of our ancestors (a really long time before yahweh), we used to sacrifice and then eat our husbands and children for good harvests and everyone was cool with it. That will always be one of the defining and believable features of of human history for me anyway.

      • Drukindeitsaf | Sep 21, 2012 at 7:26 am |

        You heard? From whom? Who told you that?
        How about those burnt alive in Dark Ages? How about whole cultures around the world who refused to worship abrahamic god and his kid?  They were all brutally killed. 
        If you want to believe in one god believe in its original version Zoroastrianism, not its abrahamic blood-thirsty  fake copies. 

      • Calypso_1 | Sep 21, 2012 at 10:57 am |

        kinky

    • kowalityjesus | Sep 21, 2012 at 12:24 pm |

      “all religions nightmare started from from [sic] imposing bible’s&koran’s god”

      nonsense!  If you’re going to make contumacious sweeping generalizations, try to make them with a semblance of truth.  Just because the period before the inception of these religions is not widely discussed in Western history doesn’t mean that you can assume that they were harmonious and fraternal.  We can all be pretty safe in saying that murder and war was pretty well the order of the day.  

      Thank the Pax Romana for setting stage for the birth of Jesus, who preached against these things duh, and was persecuted and crucified for it.  

      Christians may be somewhat hypocritical in that they have obviously taken part in wars and done terrible sins, but the difference between Christians and everybody else is that they actually treat these things as ‘terrible though necessary,’ a last resort.  Whereas others like many pagan religions and poorly-interpreted Islam live by the ignorant and ruthless sword, with no holy water with which to wash the blood from their hands.

      • I’d probably contend with the last line of what you said about the pagan and islamic religions living by ignorant and ruthless swords. I personally haven’t ever really sacrificed anything more hardcore than easily replaceable bits of myself but I think any religion that incorporates high reverence for warriors and ritual sacrifice requires a much more informed and mature attitude about death than you might give them credit for at first glance.

  5. edit :(just realised I totally restated another post)

  6. edit :(just realised I totally restated another post)

  7. Simiantongue | Sep 21, 2012 at 5:29 am |

    The purpose of separation of church and space is to keep forever from those expanses the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Earth in blood for centuries.

    We need to find all new reasons to kill one another. That’s not going to happen by holding on to those old reasons. I’m talking progress people!

  8. Simiantongue | Sep 21, 2012 at 5:29 am |

    The purpose of separation of church and space is to keep forever from those expanses the ceaseless strife that has soaked the soil of Earth in blood for centuries.

    We need to find all new reasons to kill one another. That’s not going to happen by holding on to those old reasons. I’m talking progress people!

  9. Rev. Good Hair | Sep 21, 2012 at 5:38 am |

    Any alien life encountered is inferior by definition, and worthy only of death. Any human who disagrees is a traitor and worthy only of death.

    Religion enough for our exploitation of the Universe. It all belongs to us, and I fear for anyone small minded enough or ignorant enough to disagree.

  10. GregForest | Sep 21, 2012 at 10:25 am |

    Religion is probably out there among the stars. Unfortunately is is probably not Earth-centric.

  11. Ted Heistman | Sep 21, 2012 at 11:17 am |

    Space exploration will probably be dominated by military in which case there will be chaplains. 

  12. Ted Heistman | Sep 21, 2012 at 11:17 am |

    Space exploration will probably be dominated by military in which case there will be chaplains. 

  13. warhammer 40.000 anyone?

  14. warhammer 40.000 anyone?

  15. Vickii_dodge | Sep 22, 2012 at 5:18 pm |

    religion should be left alone. what has religion done for anyone? billions of people across the world going to war and fighting against those who differ in opinion. if there IS a god he’d recognize you for your deeds and intentions regardless of your beliefs. beings above religion would see the world how it is and not through rose tinted glasses as many people here see. beliefs ARE destructive because one tends to believe their view is superior to others, or “correct” while others are wrong. leave religion behind, morality is independent of religion and the latter is redundant in modern society.

    • Polaris_E | Sep 23, 2012 at 11:00 am |

      Religion itself seems to be bearing the blame for HUMANITIES choice in actions and reactions and cause and effects.  

      It is individual men and women, who choose to create ” these wars” and some base it on religion, or money ”  yet in the end, war is just a loss of life. 

      I think in some part your expression of peoples ” superior ” views etc are destructive, can be for a portion of humanity.  But it is foolish to think all beliefs are destructive.  What is destructive, is the very nature of human being. 

      Most of the subject matter in your post, is based only on ” behaviors and ideals” and not the actual irritant. Which is the Human aspect, the one who decides on:

      Morals.
      Religious & Spiritual Beliefs.
      Actions & Reactions.
      Cause and Being
      Acceptance, Denial.. 

      so forth.

    • Polaris_E | Sep 23, 2012 at 11:00 am |

      Religion itself seems to be bearing the blame for HUMANITIES choice in actions and reactions and cause and effects.  

      It is individual men and women, who choose to create ” these wars” and some base it on religion, or money ”  yet in the end, war is just a loss of life. 

      I think in some part your expression of peoples ” superior ” views etc are destructive, can be for a portion of humanity.  But it is foolish to think all beliefs are destructive.  What is destructive, is the very nature of human being. 

      Most of the subject matter in your post, is based only on ” behaviors and ideals” and not the actual irritant. Which is the Human aspect, the one who decides on:

      Morals.
      Religious & Spiritual Beliefs.
      Actions & Reactions.
      Cause and Being
      Acceptance, Denial.. 

      so forth.

    • Polaris_E | Sep 23, 2012 at 11:00 am |

      Religion itself seems to be bearing the blame for HUMANITIES choice in actions and reactions and cause and effects.  

      It is individual men and women, who choose to create ” these wars” and some base it on religion, or money ”  yet in the end, war is just a loss of life. 

      I think in some part your expression of peoples ” superior ” views etc are destructive, can be for a portion of humanity.  But it is foolish to think all beliefs are destructive.  What is destructive, is the very nature of human being. 

      Most of the subject matter in your post, is based only on ” behaviors and ideals” and not the actual irritant. Which is the Human aspect, the one who decides on:

      Morals.
      Religious & Spiritual Beliefs.
      Actions & Reactions.
      Cause and Being
      Acceptance, Denial.. 

      so forth.

  16. Polaris_E | Sep 23, 2012 at 10:54 am |

    Earth is amongst the stars, so wouldn’t that make your question seem redundant as the ” we are in space” 

    Yet I am amused at the ” earth bound ” phrase you have chosen. Perhaps it would have been best to ask, is God an Alien, then I would have replied. 

    No I am not. 
    🙂

Comments are closed.