The topic of Astronism being called a space religion has already seen considerable debate offline amongst the growing worldwide Astronist community. Currently, the designation “astronomical religion” is preferred and is more frequently invoked by the Astronist Institution, but is the designation “space religion” also a viable descriptor for the Astronist religion?
First things first, let’s clarify definitions and distinctions. The phrases “space religion” and “astronomical religion” are fairly synonymous, but not entirely. An astronomical religion denotes a religion in which, and you guessed it, astronomical observation is a central component as a means of engaging with the religion. As a general rule, the phrase “astronomical religion” is most accurately applied to older Astronic religions, such as astrolatry and astrology. In these religions, space travel is not necessarily a component of belief which brings us to our next phrase.
The phrase “space religion” denotes religions whose beliefs are centred on or involve to an important degree the concept of space travel. This phrase is used must more variously beyond the Astronic tradition than “astronomical religion” which is generally seen as reserved for Astronic religions only. As such, the phrase “space religion” is far more contemporary by the nature of its core topic and is thus applied to a wide variety of faiths, even those as far apart from one another as Scientology, Mormonism, and Astronism itself. Therefore, to clarify:
Definition of astronomical religion — those religions and philosophical traditions whose beliefs are dependent upon or somehow necessitate astronomical observation; a term reserved for Astronic religions only, especially astrolatry, Astrology, and Astronism.
Definition of space religion –– those religions whose beliefs are centred on the notion of future mass space travel; a term widely used for both Astronic and non-Astronic religions.
Now that the definitions have been laid out, I can focus on the notion that Astronism is a space religion. To begin with, this isn’t a particularly difficult to hypothesis to prove. Astronism’s designation as a space religion is solidified through three main characteristics of the religion:
Identity –– Astronism’s entire identity is built upon a theme of space and astronomy; it’s even in Astronism’s name. Etymology: astro- denotes the stars and -ism a religion, or other system of belief.
Transcensionism –– One of Astronism’s central beliefs is called transcensionism. Transcension denotes the Astronist belief that humanity’s mass exploration of outer space will lead to a spiritual, religious, and philosophical fulfilment to supersede all prior revelations. It is the Astronist belief in transcension that links space exploration and space travel to religious, spiritual, philosophical, and ideological spheres. Belief in transcension places the prospect of mass spacefaring at the heart of Astronist religion and philosophy. Beyond this, the school of transcensionism even links space travel to eschatological subjects like the end times, ultimate fulfilment, prophecy, the final destination of the soul, and the existential purpose of humankind.
Cosmocentrism –– The worldview of Astronism is called cosmocentrism; beyond the obvious etymological links to space, this worldview is centred on the notion that outer space (not humanity, the Earth or even God for that matter) is the most important aspect of existence; that it is outer space, its exploration and discovery of its mysteries, that will lead to humanity’s realisation of truth, existential meaning, and fulfilment. What more proof does one need than the fact that Astronism, as a religion, a philosophy, a spirituality, and an ideology, is entirely based upon a worldview that places outer space at the centre of all consideration?
So is it accurate to refer to Astronism as a space religion? Yes, indeed it is.
Written by Cometan, Founder of Astronism and First Padron of the Astronist Institution