Tuesday, April 05, 2005

Religion in Space

Another post at Achenblog got me thinking about one of my theories about the colonization of space.

When I think about colonizing space, I think back to the colonization of the Americas. The two primary motivations for the European colonization of the Americas were money and religion. And the two primary enablers of colonization were governments and the Catholic Church. Other than governments, religions are the most effective organizations at collecting large sums of money by taking a little bit of money from a lot of people. They are also great at utilizing a natural resource known as people. When people go on mission trips, they are almost always asked to go outside their comfort zone to do something they never would have done otherwise. When well known religious leaders say something, a lot of people listen. Imagine if the Pope said that colonizing space was a moral obligation. What would that do for manned space exploration?

One of the reasons the early space program did so well was that there was competition. Beating the Russians to the moon was extremely motivating. But when Russia gave up on the moon and, eventually, the cold war ended, the competition became cooperation. Which is great and all, but competition gets faster results. See the X-Prize. But billionaires with hobby planes can only get us so far. So what will our new motivation be? Between the money and the ability to get people to stand behind something they usually wouldn’t think about, I think religion may have to be a prime mover if man ever wants to move beyond our little blue sphere.

5 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

All good points. Consider two things in addition to them:
-religion's influence in the West has significantly diminished in the last half century, let alone half a millenia ago. True, there could be a resurgence, but it's doubtful we'll see a big enough change to accomplish what you're talking about in our lifetime. That leads me to my second point...
-The discovery, exploration, and finally permanent settlement of the Americas took place over a span of much more than a century. They were more motivated, I think, to explore the West than many people are today to do serious exploration of space. Also, we are more limited by technology than they were.

None of this takes anything away from your argument, just a note that progress will likely not move as fast as we would like it.
-Jason

4/05/2005 11:22 PM  
Blogger Jody said...

There was a third motivation for colonization. The traditional formulation as I recall was "Gold, God, Glory."

The money motivation is still there (mining asteroids, lots of resources), and the glory is still there, but you are right that "colonizing Mars for God" just doesn't have the same impetus without heathens to convert.

4/06/2005 10:37 PM  
Anonymous Walt said...

But Jody - this is the Young Miss Spakington. She does believe there are heathens on Mars! And that the government is just hiding the fact that the heathen aliens are already creating super-children in our FBI agents. Or something like that.

Jason's two points are both excellent. If you spent a day to walk (ride the wagon) just a mile further into Kansas than the last family, you could claim land and set up a homestead that was physically capable of supporting your clan long-term (if you all like corn, naturally).

I think we'll get to space colonization, slowly. Early progress will be chilled by the first few tragedies when supply logistics fail, pressurized atmosphere is accidentally lost, etc. But humanity will continue to over-populate and will eventually HAVE to make it work. I just don't expect it in my lifetime, nor that of my hypothetical children or grandchildren.

4/07/2005 9:18 PM  
Blogger SpakKadi said...

That's Young Lady Spakington, Waldon. But don't expect to see me in a dress any time soon.

The problem is, I'm not entirely certain that overpopulation will eventually push us into space. Populations are already declining in developed nations. Ours would be, too, if not for immigration. As more of the world becomes industrialized, the world population may plateau or even start to gradually decline. Which is a good thing if Thason and Jody are right about that whole immortality thing.

A search for resources will eventually push us to mine the moon and asteroids, though I think the Earth has enough remaining resources that economics will not be a primary motivator in the next hundred years.

Oh, dang it, Walt! Now you've revived a blog idea I've had for a while. Maybe I'll work on that this weekend....

4/08/2005 11:56 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Energy may drive this. There is Helium 3 on the moon and none on the Earth. It will sustain fusion at much lower temperatures than Helium 4. It will be extremely valuable and worth the cost of shipping.

Dad

1/22/2009 6:27 PM  

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