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 see...no 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?