June 29, 2016 at 4:21 am by Frank White
As I noted in my most recent post, one of the tasks for the Human Space Program is to consider the interface between space exploration and spiritual/religious thought. Before even considering the questions surrounding spiritual and religious thinking, we should stipulate that the exploration of outer space must in fact have an impact on our inner spaces, i.e., our minds.
This is so because our brains hold an image of who we are and where we are in the universe as part of our fundamental identity. If we believe that the Earth is flat and the sky rotates above us, that is going to affect our identity, just as it will be influenced by the metaphor of "Spaceship Earth."
We cannot have a sense of "self" without having a sense of "other," and the most expansive "other" is going to be that which we conceive to be the greatest whole of which we are a part, whether it be universe, or God. In the case of the first "whole," the shift in perspective will be seen as scientific. In the case of the second, it will be seen as religious, or spiritual. The common theme, however, is the realization of our own identity as being part of something much greater than ourselves.
This means that when our understanding of the other changes, so must our understanding of self, since they are symbiotically related. And this is why the exploration of outer space inevitably affects the understanding of inner space.
(c) Copyright, Frank White, 2016, All Rights Reserved
The Overview Effect: Space Exploration and Human Evolution is available at aiaa.org and amazon.com