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.
This idea of seeing space exploration as a religion has a long history, dating back to the Russians of the early twentieth century, many of whom self-identified as "Cosmists." From there it migrated to German rocket scientists like Werner von Braun, who took his ideas about space travel to America after the Second World War. Americans were slow to warm to space exploration. They saw it as a fantasy, but that changed as Americans began to regard technology with a new reverence in the postwar period. Today Americans are the most fervent Cosmists on the planet, even if manned space exploration seems to have stalled for the time being.
This is an interesting interview, and seems to strike at a nerve for this Urantia Book reader. Maybe you, too...
From The Urantia Book
The attainment of cosmologic levels of thought includes:
Hunger for harmony and thirst for beauty. Persistent attempts to
discover new levels of harmonious cosmic relationships.
Love of the beautiful and ever-advancing appreciation of the artistic
touch of all creative manifestations on all levels of reality.
Through the realization of truth the appreciation of beauty leads to
the sense of the eternal fitness of those things which impinge upon the
recognition of divine goodness in Deity relations with all beings; and
thus even cosmology
leads to the pursuit of divine reality values—to