Space exploration and astronomy are the keys to world peace. Why? Because they can unite us for a cause that transcends nationality, political ideology, or religion. Because they compel us to see our shared connectedness with earth and all humans. Because they are necessary for the survival of humanity (we must work to extend our species beyond the tiny planet that can destroy itself). From down here on earth it seems like we have a lot to fight over. But from space, it’s clear that we shouldn’t be at war- we should be preserving and nourishing the delicate pale blue dot on which all humans exist. Looking back on earth from space, our national affiliations and ideologies are deeply challenged because one can then only see oneself as a citizen of earth. It is only when we are all able to leave the earth and see the view like the one above for ourselves that we can truly understand that the earth is our shared island paradise in a vast sea of darkness. It is only then that we can truly see how fragile and precious we are. It is only then that we can truly see that we are all together in this experience of life. It is only then that we can truly see that all humanity is one.
When all humans are able to look back on our beautiful blue marble floating in space, perhaps the Cosmic Religion that Einstein once spoke of can become a reality. Einstein said, “The religion of the future will be a cosmic religion. It will have to transcend a personal god and avoid dogma and theology. Encompassing both the natural and the spiritual, it will have to be based on a religious sense arising from the experience of all things, natural and spiritual, considered as a meaningful unity.” Space exploration and astronomy will move us into this “meaningful unity” because the view of earth from space will allow us to imagine ourselves and all people as a part of the “experience of all things” that is the phenomenon of the one tiny earth that we all share. Thus the Cosmic Religion that Einstein envisioned (and my Cosmic Meaning of this site) will ignite. Einstein’s Cosmic Religion will allow us to loosen our grip on our human differences and instead focus on our cosmic similarities. Once the Cosmic Religion ignites, all of humanity will orient itself towards space. Human endeavors already seem to be converging towards space- the majority of music, art, film, and media today mention space, supernovae, “starships,” “moonwalkin,” etc just because it’s trendy. But the seriousness of it is that human culture is emergently pointing towards the cosmos. Humanity will converge toward the cosmic religion and it must for world peace. While directly traveling into space may be necessary for the cosmic religion to stir in most people, astronomy can do the same for those who can imagine and study our smallness and interconnectedness with the universe.
The colonization of other planets, commercial space flights, the building of apartments in space, space elevators, worldships, etc., will deflect humans from international conflicts and direct us toward the great common mission of space. This is in part because space programs allow nations to collaborate, generating international work that yields greater understanding, respect, and peace between governments and peoples. Furthermore, the colonization of space will make war unnecessary. When we are no longer stranded on a weapon-ridden planet and are free to travel and extend into the depths of space, the human species will become unkillable and immortal. With endless planets or worldships to populate, the extinction of humans via nuclear warfare would become impossible. Simply having wider distances between human colonies in space would make terrorist attacks and war more difficult and thus less likely to occur. With endless territories and resources in space, there will be little left for us to fight over and peace will be triumphant on earth and our colonies. However, if the cosmic religion does not take hold, perhaps colonies would first cohere based on traditional religion or ideologies and thus create hatred towards each other, but when we eventually encounter another intelligent species and encounter their religions, may we finally see our beliefs and theologies as mere human constructs and not universal laws. If war and overpopulation suffocate earth prior to a worldwide interest in space, space colonization may become our shared struggle for human survival, and while that is the unfortunate scenario, the struggle for survival via space colonization will most definitely unite us, spark the cosmic religion, and bring peace to all worlds. In our ladder towards peace, we will move from citizens of nations, to citizens of earth, to citizens of the cosmos- the cosmopolites.
Ronald Reagan said, “Mankind’s journey into space, like every great voyage of discovery, will become part of our unending journey of liberation. In the limitless reaches of space, we will find liberation from tyranny, from scarcity, from ignorance and from war. We will find the means to protect this Earth and to nurture every human life, and to explore the universe. . . This is our mission, this is our destiny.” Space is our intellectual and physical liberation. The weightlessness of space will lead us to the weightlessness of enlightenment. The vast peace of outer space will lead us to vast peace for humanity.