A very nice read about religious experience as associated with space travel, enhanced by quotations from an international roster of astronauts.
For many people, space represents its own religion, a spiritual experience on its own, secular terms, with no help from the divine or ancient rituals. But for those who believe and travel into space, the experience can endow their faith with greater significance. There is awe in science because, simply, there is awe in reality. We use science to discover that reality, and some use religion to understand it, to feel it deeply.
There is perhaps nothing more human than the curiosity that compels exploration. But paired with that curiosity is a search for meaning — we don’t want to know just what is out there, we want to turn it into something with a story, something with sense. We turn to the gods for that meaning, and we turn to them for our safety as we go. Same as it’s always been, same as it ever was. As President Kennedy concluded his speech on our mission to the moon at Rice University in 1962, “Space is there and we’re going to climb it, and the moon and planets are there and new hopes for knowledge and peace are there. And, therefore, as we set sail we ask God’s blessing on the most hazardous and dangerous and greatest adventure on which man has ever embarked.”
— Rebecca J. Rosen, “Communion on the Moon: The Religious Experience in Space,” The Atlantic, July 16, 2012
For best effect, consider pairing this article with The Atlantic‘s March piece about the religion of space itself: “The Holy Cosmos: The New Religion of Space Travel.”
Finish with this “Symphony of Science” video: