A fascinating article surfaced on Nautilus last week. Mary-Jane Rubenstein, a professor of religion and science in society at Wesleyan University, shares her concerns about the technical strides and aspirations of Elon Musk’s SpaceX, the company’s mission to enable thousands of people to live on Mars, and the ethics of terraforming the planet to be more like Earth. What’s intriguing, though, is Rubenstein’s thoughts about the religious underpinnings of the United States space program and how even modern science is still hostage to imperialistic Christian ideas.
“I started realizing that religion shows up in the natural sciences and the contemporary world in a funny and alarming way,” Rubenstein said. “Because sciences tend to think of themselves as something as far away as possible from religion, as having freed themselves from God. To an extent that’s true. But in the process, they tend to generate these big stories, big mythologies, about the origins and the ends of the world. And conjure characters who are heroes, gods, and monsters. I started tracking the way that the natural sciences themselves generate new ways of understanding the world that, a couple centuries ago, we would have called religion.”