For thousands of years, astronomers, philosophers, and religious and non-religious persons alike have looked up at the night sky and fantasized about the meaning of the cosmos. When a person begins to wonder about deep space, it ignites a desire to grasp how the Universe was created and, perhaps most commonly, who created it. This is why, so often, science fiction novels contain religious symbols and ideas. From Cicero's Dream of Scipio in 146 BC to Olaf Stapledon's Star Maker in 1937, writers have questioned and imagined what lies beyond our Earth, human significance in relation, and who or what the divine Star Maker is.
I interviewed a group of people from different ages, genders, and religions to ask them what space makes them think about. Their answers were surprisingly similar.
1. "I feel small and insignificant when I think about space. It feels...forbidden. Like there are secrets and mysteries up there that man will chase for eternity. When I think about space, I can’t help but believe that there is a higher power. I think about eternity...it makes you ask, ‘why are we here?’” - 50 year old woman
2. “I think about the unknown. There is a little bit of fear there too, but in a healthy “fear of God” way. It brings out curiosity and fear at the same time. It makes me feel a part of a greater purpose. It doesn’t make me feel meaningless. It makes me feel like I am here for a reason.” - 24 year old female
3. “I’m not scared of space. It makes me feel lucky as f***. Like...how did I get a ride on this space rock? It reminds me how crazy low the chances are that I would be born in a time and place where I could even have this conversation right now.” -24 year old male.
4. “I think about God-- a God who is the master and creator of this big infinite universe is still small and personal enough to live in my heart” -54 year old male
5. “It’s so vast. It doesn’t scare me as much as the ocean scares me. I don’t think about it a lot, but honestly I feel like people use space to stop focusing on what's happening here. It’s an escape-- an excuse to not think about our problems on Earth. I’ve never been that curious about it to concern myself. However, it does make me think about the possibility of God. If space can be so vast and big, then we don’t know anything. Whoever made us knows everything.” -21 year old female
6. “I think about God’s creation. I think about the intentional design and vastness and how infinitely small we are. That had to have been intentional. There has to be a creator.” -- 30 year old female
7. “How big space is makes my life feel meaningless, but in a comforting way. Like...my problems aren’t as big as I make them out to be. There is something bigger to think about.” -20 year old female
8. “It sort of makes me feel surreal. You think of how big outer space is and ask ‘how could it be just us here?’” - 10 year old female
9. "Space makes me fall small, but not in a bad way. It reminds me that I’m not the only person on this planet. I have a faith, so I find the fact that God created both the stars and me super cool” -23 year old female.
10. “I have both positive and negative feelings towards space. Space makes me feel insignificant because I’m like ‘i’m literally so tiny. How can I make any impact when I know I'm in this huge expanse?’ But in a positive way, it reminds me that I am here for a reason. That’s pretty cool.” -20 year old male
All humans desire to understand their place amongst the cosmos and their contribution to such a vast universe. Only Outer Space could make a ten year old use the word "surreal!" Regardless of if you feel positively or negatively towards the idea of space travel, every now and then, it is important to look up at the stars and stimulate your innate human sense of wonder!