Thursday, March 30, 2017

Galactic Worship

Hello Lovelies,

I was recently reading an article with regards to the UAE considering building a city on Mars. While the consideration is definitely interesting and there were more than a few comments leaning to either side of the argument, one question that was asked grabbed my attention.

"How would Muslims in space face Mecca to pray?"

While I don't know if the question was asked out of venom and spite or if it was a genuine intellectual curiosity (as many, many individuals were taking their time to bash the UAE for nothing more than being non-American/non-Christian), it did raise a very real question for me. How would they? My understanding of the religion is that individuals must face Mecca while doing their prayers, so how would that work within the context of galactic travel and/or colonization of other planets within or outside of our given solar system.

Just dwelling on it, I imagine space travelers that are actively in a ship wouldn't really have an issue so long they're pointed in the right direction (provided they know what direction Earth is); but what about those colonists on another planet. Let's make the equation easy and say we're on Mars and Earth is directly 'above' us. What then? Does the individual find some inclined method to face our home planet or do they do something else?

This really got my brain buzzing about the possibility of different religions in space. Really thinking about it, the recurring religion portrayed in most Science Fiction movies, books, and games always seems to be Christianity. I'm not sure if this is out of ease or simply out of the commonality of the Christian faith.

Depending on what concept you follow, the concept of religion in space can go one of two ways. Some feel that religion will be done away with as man explores the stores; the need for belief in a high power stripped away by the intricacies of the universe. Otherwise argue the exact opposite: that being lost among the stars and seeing the wonders of space travel will only give birth to a belief that some larger force is at work.

While I won't raise the argument in either direction, it really does make me wonder how space travel and exploration would influence a given religion. Christians definitely seem the easiest to visualize overall, as they would basically just expand their faith to include that their God created all they matter how vast or large. I imagine Muslims to be the same, but they obviously face the aforementioned prayer issue. The Jewish faith seems equally similar, only touted by the issue of 'don't light your minora on a spaceship'. All together, I think the Buddhist faith presents the most readily spaceworthy since they already acknowledge the existence of other worlds and yet they consider the existence of all worlds inconsequential in the great scheme of things.

All in all, this is little more than an open forum...a way to get your brain boiling for interesting concepts that might influence your own writing or creation.

What can you think of with any given religion that might present an interesting challenge or development based on space travel?


  1. Definitely intriguing. I believe that there have been Muslim astronauts so perhaps the problem has already been satisfactorily addressed. As a side issue, what direction do Muslims face to pray IN Mecca.

  2. Christianity wouldn't be a problem. We still know where God is and who He is.
    Interesting idea and question for real space travelers.
    This is why I left religion out of my books. I could only see it from my own viewpoint, so better to just avoid the subject and not alienate anyone. (No pun intended.)

  3. I think the reason Christianity is portrayed more is because of the religion of the writers and/or their familiarity with Christianity. But that's in English. What about other languages? I'm sure there are authors who have written sci fi for whom Christianity isn't the norm.

    The Expanse. Have you read the book or seen the SyFy series? They are going in a different direction, although I haven't seen religion portrayed.

    This is definitely an interesting question.

    1. I actually haven't heard of it. I'll have to check it out. And you're not wrong, I suppose. Need to study more languages and test that theory.

  4. Hi Robert - I've been meaning to study all the religions, but have never got round to it - and the study would be a superficial overview ... as I know so little - but yes Mecca I did know about it's an interesting thought ... but I shall move quickly on - and wait and see ... cheers Hilary

  5. This is really interesting. In thousands of years, if we expand through space or even leave Earth altogether, it's easy to see how religions would be altered or even entirely new ones could be created. Who knows?

  6. Want to get rich? Create a religion. If you live long enough, "find" an ancient book on Mars, saying it is some Martian God's word and presto, instant riches lol

    The thing about any good religion is it can adapt or explain away such stuff that contradicts it. That's why ones that we have now are still around and stuff like Greek mythology is myth and not some religion. That and many religions killed the non-believers to take power.

  7. All very interesting theories. I enjoy reading SF stories where religion (or lack thereof) is part of the world-building. I think religion will still be with us in thousands of years due to persistent tradition and the vagaries of humanity.

  8. Hey, it's an interesting question. I've heard so many times...there are no stupid questions and I agree with that. While I don't know the answer it's still food for thought.

  9. It is a really interesting question. I hope humanity makes it into space at some point so we can get an answer.