Today I’d like to talk a little about religion. This is going to be kind of a personal post. Comments and discussion are always welcome, provided everyone remains respectful.
While researching last week’s Sciency Words post on exotheology, C.S. Lewis’s name came up a lot. I didn’t mention this because Sciency Words is mainly about the etymology of scientific or science-related terms, and Lewis does not get credit for coining the term exotheology. As far as I can tell, he never used the term at all in his writings.
However, one of Lewis’s essays is referenced so frequently in exotheological discussions that you might almost call it a founding document for the subject. It was published in February of 1963 in response to Russian cosmonauts who, upon returning to Earth from space, reported that they had not seen any God up there in the heavens. And, well, I guess that was supposed to settle the matter. The cosmonauts didn’t see God; therefore, God doesn’t exist. Q.E.D.
Lewis’s response was originally titled “Onward, Christian Spaceman” and was later re-titled “The Seeing Eye.” For anyone who’s interested, I found this video on YouTube that presents the essay with some nice, hand drawn illustrations:
But the crux of Lewis’s argument can be summed up well by this quote from that essay:
To some, God is discoverable everywhere; to others, nowhere. Those who do not find Him on earth are unlikely to find Him in space.
That line struck a curious chord with me. Some of you have been Internet friends with me long enough to remember that I was, at one time, a pretty devout church-going Christian. But in recent years, I’ve become disillusioned with the church and with the whole concept of organized religion.
Why? Well, there are several reasons. One of the big ones is that I love space, and I love science, and for what seems to be a growing number of religious people, it’s not okay to love those things. Apparently. It’s also not okay to love certain people, apparently, but that’s a different story. I know not all religious people are like that, but enough of them are that I became very uncomfortable going to church, and so I stopped going.
To my surprise, I don’t really miss it. I’ve found other ways to pursue my spiritual growth. One of my favorites involves dark, cloudless nights and my trusty old telescope. Because weirdly enough, and in apparent contradiction to what C.S. Lewis had to say on the subject, I have a much easier time finding God (or the divine, or the sublime, or whatever you might prefer to call it) up there in space than I do down here on Earth.