Sending people to another star will be a monumental undertaking, and the challenges will be not just technological, but human. One thorny question, experts say, is whether to involve organized religions in the effort to mount an interstellar journey.

Religious leaders argued the issue Sept. 14 in Houston at the 100 Year Starship Symposium, a meeting to discuss the prospect of sending a space mission to another star within 100 years.

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.

When I first read this I thought it sounded like a thoroughly horrid idea. Sending our religious fanatics into the cosmos armed with bibles and catechisms to bludgeon into the Christian faith any little green/grey men/women who might be up there would be a repetition of some of the worst mistakes of humanity's past and could even spark an interstellar war that would make the tiff between the Klingons and the Romulans seem like two eight year olds squabbling in a school playground.

But then I got all selfish and came to the conclusion that it might be a good idea. Especially if we got to vote on which of our religious celebrities we would send into outer space for a very long time.

Any suggestions?


JESUS ON MARS — 10 Comments

  1. There are a number of people we could send (Rick Warren, Franklin Graham, the Global South Primates, etc.) But we must take care to insure that they cannot tell anyone where they came from and the trip would have to be one way.

  2. Raises a hard question. I the xenobes are sinners, did Jesus’ sacrifice save them (assuming that is the line you take)? If not, has God (who should be God there as well as here) provided a savior of their type? If yes, what happens to the doctrine that Jesus had to become a human in order to save humanity? And, if they are not sinners, are we to be the snake?
    (Sorry about being sorta serious.)

    • It has always been my contention that the sacrifice of Jesus saved (or, probably more accurately, renewed/redeemed) all that God had ordered.

      I am not convinced that God is the God (orderer out of chaos) of anything more than the earth.

      I think the higher life forms on earth (anything above a single cell) are alone in the universe.

      So, serious as your points are, I shall leave it up to others to take issue with them (or not).

    • To be sentient is to be a sinner, and vice-versa. If we meet sentient beings on other planets, I will be most interested in learning their soteriologies (“how they are saved”). I believe we will find rich opportunities for dialogue via the Cosmic Christ (when particularity will really have to be left behind).

      My 2c.

      [“Capital Christian Center in Sacramento, Calif”: BLECH! Homophobic turds…which, as much as I’d like to be free of ’em on Earth (much less my burg!), would be CRIMINAL to impose on the rest of the universe]

    • A tad harsh? Even if, in this world the two groups coincided (but I think some dogs and some cats are both sentient and sinless), things might be different in other worlds. But I admit I think the odds (my prejudices on no information) favor your view. And — always assuming we do’t kill ’em all (or they us) before we talk — the discussions will be very helpful indeed, free from the cultural blocks (? Well, we can hope).

      Yes, sending our missionaries of almost any stripe would likely get us banned from interstellar travel for a long time. (The sudden drop in visitors after the ’70s was probably because they were Mormons or Witnesses.)

  3. Hello: I am the one that presented the paper at the Starship symposium stating the case that religions must be left behind. My paper is posted at: if interested.