Science and the divine, in space

Did you know that Buzz Aldrin took communion just minutes before Neil Armstrong set foot on the moon for the first time?

When Apollo 14 astronaut Edgar Mitchell looked down on earth from space, he experienced an overwelming sense of cosmic connectedness. For a few blissful moments, he saw his atoms and all the atoms of earth and all living things on it as one synergistic whole.

Just a few weeks ago, before the launch of the Soyuz spacecraft, a Russian priest blessed the engines.

Why is it that scientific, logical and rational space exploration can’t separate itself from spiritual experiences ?

Why is it that scientific, logical and rational space exploration often inspires spiritual experiences?

This NASA video gives some insight into the moving spectacles of light and colour that inspire the spiritual sense of awe.

In an article in The Atlantic,Communion on the Moon: The Religious Experience in Space“, Rebecca J. Rosen writes: “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.”

Should we add, “Same as it always will be.”?

It’s paradoxical. It seems the deeper and deeper that scientists delve into sub-atomic particles seeking secrets of the universe, the more awed they become by cosmic curiosities. And the higher and higher into space that astronauts soar seeking secrets of the universe, the more awed they become by cosmic connections.

Perhaps someday we will unearth all the scientific secrets of the universe. Perhaps someday those facts will arm us with everything so we will no longer need a story.

But I doubt it, and what fun would that be anyway?

If the physical world were just a reflection of ourselves, then there would never be surprises in science. But we are constantly surprised.   —Alan Lightman in A Sense of the Mysterious: Science and the Human Spirit

2 thoughts on “Science and the divine, in space

  1. Pingback: Astronauts, Spacewalking, and a Universe Too Big For Our Gods « an irenicon

  2. Pingback: Astronauts, Spacewalking, and a Universe Too Big For Our Gods - an irenicon

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