Interstellar Religions

"We have never ceased to believe."

Religion in the interstellar age is a vast and complex topic that requires to consider the matter of religion during the Low Age.

In the post-industrial context of the Low Age, religious or para-religious orders played a very important role in conserving knowledge and cultural achievements from times past, though this does not mean the Low Age was necessarily more religious than the industrial age. In fact, many of the religious or spiritual orders born in the Low Age evolved into powerful communes and cooperatives which slowly lost their religious nature to turn into more secular organisations. The best example of this phenomenon is the various Muslim and Christian orders that coalesced into the Moon Communes. Aside from this prevalence of religious orders, the Low Age saw sweeping changes in the worldwide religious landscape, both through the evolution of historical religions and the creations of new ones, often forged in the intellectual renaissance of the solarpunk movement. Most of these changes have carried over to the interstellar era, where spirituality plays an important role, especially in isolated settlements that try to develop their own identity.

Yoruba Syncretism is the only major modern religion that was truly born in the Low Age, albeit it predated it (and most monotheist religions) by several thousand years. Though it originated in the homeland of the Yoruba people in Nigeria, this Polytheist-Animist religion also birthed numerous lineages in the Caribbean and Latin America during the pre-industrial and industrial era. Intense syncretism with various African traditions, Islam and Christianity during the Low Age gave birth to what is commonly described as Yoruba Syncretism -- a complex, multipolar religion with a multitude of Orishas, or deities, and a supreme God that is sometimes merged with Allah or the Christian God. As Nigeria and Kenya became superpowers during the late Low Age, Yoruba Syncretism became the face of the Africa-led "second space age" and thus spread to many extrasolar worlds, becoming one of the largest human religions. In present day, 650 million people follow Yoruba syncretism. The African city of Ile-Ife and the African Space Elevator are the main sacred Yoruba sites. 

Christianity is still present under various shapes, albeit it remains mostly confined to the Earth, with the planet acting as a religious beacon, especially for Catholics. The various schisms of Christianity, by far the most chaotic modern religion, are described in greater detail here. The Outer Church is often lumped under Christianity due to its Marxist-evangelist origin in the Low Age. However, whether or not a religion that describes God as a woman, celebrates the stars as saints and FTL translations as sacraments has anything to do with Christianity anymore is an exercise best left to theologians. Christianity is what Christians want it to be, and while it is mostly established outside of the Earth, the Outer Church remains a fascinating example of how the FTL era shaped the old religions. In total, a little more than 600 million people identify as Christians, mostly on Earth in the Socialist Republics of Europe and Latin America.

Islam was significantly reshaped by the Low Age. Though the Sunni/Shia divide is still alive and well, the real line of fracture within Islam is now between Terran, or Traditional Islam, and Interstellar Islam. Though Interstellar Islam shares a very similar theology, it has a completely different reading of FTL travel. Traditional Islam sees the geometry drive as a tool. Interstellar Islam sees it as an instrument of Allah, a paracausal device intended to reveal the beauty of creation. Interstellar Islam mosques will often have a geometry drive in their mirhab, and its imams generally double as pilots or navigators. While both Muslim movements go on pilgrimage to Mecca, Interstellar Islam allows its followers to replace the Hajj by a pilgrimage to Darb ut-Tabānah Station. There are 900 million Muslims in human space, making Islam one of the driving cultural and religious forces of present-day humankind.

Hinduism is often considered as the de facto religion of the USRE due to its Indian origins, albeit Islam could readily dispute that claim. Modern Hinduism didn't significantly change during the Low Age, save for the loss of several holy sites due to climate change and their replacement by new ones. Its sister variant, often called Eloran Hinduism due to its birthplace on the solarpunk world, is very similar on a surface level. Yet, Eloran Hinduism is better understood as a form of polytheist syncretism, where Hindu deities coexist alongside Shinto and animist influences, and where Saraswati is considered as the main deity -- which is reflected in the fact that the Saraswati Arcology, towering at 5,000 metres above the Eloran sea, is the holiest site of extrasolar Hinduism. Both Hindu currents total more than a billion followers, making Hinduism the most prominent human religion.

Buddhism remains relatively confined to the Earth, albeit many Buddhist enclaves can be found in extrasolar space. As a religion, it went through the Low Age remarkably unchanged, albeit its expansion to outer space led to a flourish of new aesthetics, where historical Buddhist temples are the exception rather than the rule. In total, Buddhism claims 400 million followers across human space. Aside from its historical sacred sites, modern Buddhism also considers the South Asian Space Elevator as a pilgrimage site, taking the elevation of the soul to the letter.

Animism is probably the most "artificial" category in religious census, as it covers not a single one but a myriad of religions revived by the Low Age, from the various currents of African animism to modern ancestor worship as practised in the Irenian Enclaves for instance. 400 million sophonts self-identify as animists, among which a surprising number of artificial intelligences. Animism also covers spacer shamanism and the various "star cults."

About 200 million sophonts identify as religious, but without belonging to one of the major religions; the main minor organized religions in human space would be JudaismSikhism modern Neo-Paganism and the Yazidi faith. 

All content in the Starmoth Blog is © Isilanka
Written content on Starmoth is distributed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial Share-Alike 4.0 license