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The Dangerous Religion of the Corporate Space Race

A revealing look at the parallel mythologies behind the colonization of Earth and space—and a bold vision for a more equitable, responsible future both on and beyond our planet.
As environmental, political, and public health crises multiply on Earth, we are also at the dawn of a new space race in which governments team up with celebrity billionaires to exploit the cosmos for human gain. The best-known of these pioneers are selling different visions of the future: while Elon Musk and SpaceX seek to establish a human presence on Mars, Jeff Bezos and Blue Origin work toward moving millions of earthlings into rotating near-Earth habitats. Despite these distinctions, these two billionaires share a core utopian project: the salvation of humanity through the exploitation of space.
In Astrotopia, philosopher of science and religion Mary-Jane Rubenstein pulls back the curtain on the not-so-new myths these space barons are peddling, like growth without limit, energy without guilt, and salvation in a brand-new world. As Rubenstein reveals, we have already seen the destructive effects of this frontier zealotry in the centuries-long history of European colonialism. Much like the imperial project on Earth, this renewed effort to conquer space is presented as a religious calling: in the face of a coming apocalypse, some very wealthy messiahs are offering an other-worldly escape to a chosen few. But Rubenstein does more than expose the values of capitalist technoscience as the product of bad mythologies. She offers a vision of exploring space without reproducing the atrocities of earthly colonialism, encouraging us to find and even make stories that put cosmic caretaking over profiteering.

224 pages | 12 halftones | 6 x 9

History: History of Ideas

Philosophy: Philosophy of Religion

Religion: American Religions, Christianity, Religion and Society


“A timely book that makes an important and well-argued point: that the new space race, indeed much like the old one, is driven largely by a combination of an instinct for capitalist exploitation and colonization coupled to a quasi-religious impulse drawing on some of the worst of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Astrotopia ought to stimulate some much-needed debate.”

Philip Ball, author of "The Modern Myths: Adventures in the Machinery of the Popular Imagination"

Table of Contents

Introduction: We Hold This Myth to Be Potential
1 Our Infinite Future in Infinite Space
2 Creation and Conquest
3 The American Promised Land
4 The Final Frontier
5 Whose Space Is It?
6 The Rights of Rocks
7 Other Spacetimes
Conclusion: Revolt of the Pantheists


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