For many of today’s greenies, protecting nature is a religion in itself. The high priests are the climate scientists. Reducing your carbon footprint has replaced fasting. The three Rs – reduce, reuse, recycle – is the commandment everyone must obey. But there are a lot of people who think of space exploration in a similar way. In The Saints Go Blasting Off, Ross Andersen describes the religious aspects of the space movement in The Atlantic Monthly:
Think about how you feel when you see the Earth from space or the Apollo astronauts walking on the moon. These images are achievements of science, sure, but they also have a religious feel to them; they tug at something deeper than engineering, something sublime. When viewed as a whole, space exploration has a lot in common with religion. It offers us a salvation narrative, for instance, whereby we put our faith in technology in order to be delivered to new worlds. Its priests, figures like Neil deGrasse Tyson, extoll its virtues in what sound like sermons. In its iconography, astronauts are like saints that ascend into heaven and extraterrestrials are like gods—benevolent, kind, wise, capable of manipulating space and time.