Faith On The Final Frontier

“The final frontier” — since the mid 1960’s these words have characterized Star Trek’s perception of the adventure and the discoveries to be found in the distant reaches of outer space. Yet can this vast interstellar ether really be said to be the final frontier in terms of providing an ultimate foundation or purpose? For despite all its wonder, at its core the cosmos is not that much different than ourselves in that its external composition is simply another manifestation or component of the physical universe.

Thus, no matter how far man might one day voyage beyond the confines of the earth, he will still require belief and value systems through which to process and understand the role of the mysteries he is likely to encounter both within the human mind and those external to himself with which he has had little prior experience. Often the fields of science fiction and future studies are used as tools by which to forecast scientific and technological developments. However, in Religion 2101 A.D., Hiley H. Ward shows these speculative methods can be used to gauge the form religion might take in the distant future.

According to Ward, the astounding breakthroughs of the future will force humanity to rethink the most basic of concepts as these will be stretched beyond traditional understandings in light of extraordinary circumstances and conditions. For example, Ward points out that the very concept of what it means to be human might be altered beyond current recognition. With the advent of artificial organs and the possibility of growing replacements in a laboratory, there could come a day when death might be delayed indefinitely.

Many would no doubt embrace existence as a cyborg (an organism half biological and half mechanical in its physiology) if the interchangeability of parts presented the likelihood of staving off the grim reaper as long as possible. Eventually, man might no longer have to endure the inherent limitations of an organic body as range, perception and locomotion could be enhanced by directly interfacing the brain with a computer controlling an array of exploratory robotic sensors. In essence, some could live out their lives as a stationary central processing unit while their secondary android bodies simultaneously explored both the depths of the ocean and the peaks of Mars all at the same time.

Ward predicts that these kinds of innovations will spark profound renovations in man’s religious consciousness. Faced with the overwhelming enormity of the universe, man may feel forced to cope with the daunting fruits of this exploration by downplaying his individuality by fully embracing his place as an insignificant cog in a machine. In biological and sociological sciences, this theory is known as “macro life”, the propensity to view the individual in society as analogous to a single cell in an organism.

Such a framework places worth and value instead on the overall group as a whole….

By Frederick Meekins – WebCommentary.com