Is space travel a religious matter?

In the video Overview 5 astronauts talk about having powerful spiritual experiences in space, and their descriptions match enlightenment experiences. This strikes me as rather more important than you’d think based on how often it is discussed.

Gene Cernan speaking in the documentary In the Shadow of the Moon:

I felt that the world was just too beautiful to have happened by accident. There has to be something bigger than you and bigger than me… And I mean this in a spiritual sense, not a religious sense… There has to be a creator of the universe who stands above the religions that we ourselves create to govern our lives.

Anousheh Ansari

The actual experience exceeds all expectations and is something that’s hard to put to words… It sort of reduces things to a size that you think everything is manageable…. All these things that may seem big and impossible … We can do this. Peace on Earth – No problem. It gives people that type of energy … that type of power, and I have experienced that.

The above quote is one of 7 such accounts listed on Starport cafe of the Starport Cafe. One of them is by Edgar Mitchell, who described the experience in some detail in Overview:

The other 4 astronauts in Overview were Ron Garan, Nicole Stott, Jeff Hoffman, and Shane Kimbrough. Nicole Stott goes so far near the end of the film as to say everybody who goes to space is changed by it, and puts in terms that, again, to a Buddhist, Taoist, or Hindu would constitute some form of enlightenment experience – an experience of being overwhelmed with awe, of feeling blessed, and connected.

Quote from David Beaver in the video:

As you go into your mind in a contemplative way, the sense of the living reality of the planet becomes obvious. You become more in tune with the natural world. This is very akin to the direct perception that the astronauts have, so it is no wonder that many people have likened the overview effect to a spiritual or meditative experience although it’s not exactly that, it’s a cognitive shift that very often can produce a kind of meditative experience.

So far the count is 12 astronauts. Or 9 astronauts, one cosmonaut, and two space tourists, if you prefer. Anyone who has been in space counts here. That is already a substantial percentage of all people who have been there so far. Can more of them be added to this tally?

So whether or not you believe space travel has a religious experience or not, there is one thing we cannot deny. When you look at our universe, standing firmly on the earth or floating above our atmosphere in space, it is an amazing tribute to a “greater being”. We believe this is God, Yahweh. The one creator of the universe. To believe this all formed from a single explosion over millions of years, just seems to take so much more faith then believing in a creator.

My trust in God flows out of the experience of his loving me, day in and day out, whether the day is stormy or fair, whether I’m sick or in good health, whether I’m in a state of grace or disgrace. He comes to me where I live and loves me as I am.