RELIGION
11/07/2013 04:27 pm ET Updated Nov 07, 2013

Astronaut Chris Hadfield Learned A Lot About Spirituality In Space

AP

During an emotional interview with NPR's Terry Gross, Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield opened up about his views on space, faith and our place in the universe.

When asked if being in space has changed his perspective on spirituality, Hadfield, who has spent a total of six months in space and has orbited Earth thousands of times, said that his faith has "absolutely" been reinforced by his time in the cosmos.

"The world, when you look at it, it just can't be random," he said. "I mean, it's so different than the vast emptiness that is everything else and even all the other planets we've seen, at least in our solar system, none of them even remotely resemble the precious life-giving nature of our own planet."

Ultimately, Hadfield says, being in space and staring down at the twinkling "jewel" that is the Earth, one quickly comes to realize how complex and compassionate our planet really is:

I think what everyone would find if they could be [up in space] -- if they could see the whole world every 90 minutes and look down on the places where we do things right, and look down where we're doing stupid, brutal things to each other and the inevitable patience of the world that houses us -- I think everybody would be reinforced in their faith, and maybe readdress the real true tenets of what's good and what gives them strength.

And when Hadfield says "everybody," he means it.

Refusing to elaborate on the details of his own belief system, the astronaut said that faith is all about what resonates most powerfully with any given person and that "if you start talking in depth about your own [faith], you are excluding other people who have different faiths that give them strength. There's no point in that."

(Visit NPR to listen to Terry Gross' wonderful interview with Chris Hadfield.)

A former commander of the International Space Station, Hadfield, who announced his retirement from the Canadian Space Agency in June, has long been open about his experiences in space.

The 54-year-old, who has flown three space missions and conducted two space walks, has captured the imaginations of legions of fans with his inspiring and often surreal videos of his time in the cosmos.

Just last month, Hadfield published An Astronaut's Guide To Life On Earth, a book about his experiences above Earth.

In this profoundly beautiful YouTube video, which has been watched more than 18 million times, watch as Hadfield sings David Bowie's "Space Oddity" from aboard the International Space Station:

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