Posts Tagged: ‘religion and science’

Inspired in large part by Emory University’s “For I am the Black Jaguar” exhibit (get the book here), we explore some of the common ground between psychedelically-fueled spirituality and scientific research into the effects and nature of psychedelic experience.

Here’s what we have for you…

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Will humans leave religion behind when they become an interplanetary species? Not hardly. In this episode of Stuff to Blow Your Mind, Julie and I grab our Orange Catholic Bibles and discuss how manned space exploration affects our belief systems and how faith might change or even break on off-world colonies or in the midst of extraterrestrial contact.

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previously blogged about Jewish, Christian and Islamic ritual in orbit and how we’ve had to rethink traditionally terrestrial rituals and observances. It seems that bearded prophets out of antiquity didn’t even consider the possibility of space stations. But Mormonism is a slightly different matter as Joseph Smith founded the first Latter Day Saints church less than 200 years ago. Despite the religion’s frontier roots, Mormon cosmology takes other planets and even the possibility of intelligent extraterrestrial life into account.

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Science continues to alter the shape of religious belief, so how does devotion to a god change in orbit? Would long-distance space travel require the use of on-ship burial plots for Jewish or Muslim astronauts? And what happens if the Christian rapture or some comparable end-of-days event were to occur while you’re in space? Certainly, these are far from pressing theological or scientific concerns, but the topic of religious belief in space continues to pop up. Here are some quick examples in Judaism, Christianity and Islam:

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It only took the Catholic Church close to four centuries to apologize over the whole Galileo fiasco, but today’s Vatican seems to have some fairly progressive ideas regarding our place in the cosmos. Vatican astronomers Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Gabriel Funes continue to stir up discussion with talk of planetary exploration ethics and the possible existence of alien life.

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Is there a God? Did some unimaginable divine hand set the course of human events or does it all boil down to a genetic mandate of propagation? Do you lay your offerings before the strict, atheistic machinations of science or at the feet of a patriarchal deity? I think a lot of us would opt for a third answer, a middle path of open-mindedness between the extremes of religious fundamentalism and strict atheism — and that’s why the concept of possibilianism is so attractive.

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Yesterday I blogged about Vatican astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno’s thoughts on the relationship between science and religion — and the conflict that sometimes emerges there. I thought the planetary scientists turned Jesuit brother presented a very positive, thought-provoking view on the matter. But in the interest of providing another take less rooted in Western monotheism, I thought we’d turn to Varadaraja V. Raman.

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My friend Bill made an interesting statement on Twitter today: “Maybe we can cut a deal where all the biologists can believe in God in return for evangelicals believing in evolution.” This was particularly amusing because I attended a lecture last night by a man who was taught evolution by nuns and who studies meteorites while wearing a clerical collar.

American research astronomer Guy J. Consolmagno spoke at Agnes Scott College last night on the ethics of exploration and planetary astronomy (see my post at Discovery Space). He also happens to be a Jesuit brother and a planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory.

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So the other day, fellow blogger Marshall Brain posted a couple of YouTube videos about whether the world’s going to end in 2012. Naturally, this has led to a lot of discussion about religion and just what the likes of Yahweh and Shiva have to say about all this. So I thought I might take just a moment of everyone’s time to point out an excellent online tool for deciding just how boned we are.

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If quantum theory holds true and ceasing to believe in something can keep it from happening, then couldn’t enough belief steer us toward a future we want? Better yet, can’t we just bribe a few robots to pray us into a better, alternate reality? The answers may astound and confuse you.

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