Science Wins a Clash With Religion Over Sacred Hawaii Volcano

Mauna Kea sunrise experience from Kona.

Following years of protests and legal battles, a massive telescope that will allow scientists to peer into the most distant reaches of our early universe will be built on Mauna Kea, a Hawaiian volcano that some consider sacred.

The state announced a “notice to proceed” for the Thirty Meter Telescope project Thursday, reports the AP. Hawaii Gov. David Ige said it was the final legal step in a long, often contentious, process, and that construction is expected to begin this summer.

“We will proceed in a way that respects the people, place, and culture that make Hawaii unique,” Ige said. “We are all stewards of Mauna Kea.”

Scientists say the summit is one of the best places on Earth for astronomy. The telescope would be three times as wide as the largest existing visible-light telescope in the world, with nine times more area. Several telescopes and observatories are already on the summit.

But opponents say the telescope will desecrate sacred land atop Mauna Kea, the state’s highest peak and a place of religious importance to Native Hawaiians. State and county officials removed Native Hawaiian structures Thursday built on land where the telescope will be constructed.

Kealoha Pisciotta, a Native Hawaiian activist who has led some protests, said officials were only allowing astronomers through.

“It’s completely discriminatory. It’s hostile to the Native Hawaiian people,” she said. “These are places of worship and the places where we lay our offering and our prayer.”

The new telescope will allow astronomers to reach back 13 billion years, to the time just after the big bang. Richard Ha, a Native Hawaiian farmer who supports the project, visits Mauna Kea and respects the connection Native Hawaiians have to the place.

“Once you get above the clouds, you’re in a different world. It makes you feel like humans are just a small part.”

Edited via Newser.

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Posted by on June 23, 2019. Filed under NEWS I FIND INTERESTING. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry
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2 Responses to Science Wins a Clash With Religion Over Sacred Hawaii Volcano

  1. Glenn Geist Reply

    June 24, 2019 at 8:32 am

    Hawaiians have my respect and sympathy, but to me, the telescope will be a place of worship. Every place is sacred to somebody and it’s not as though providing a mountain view with a much better view shouldn’t offend any gods. In fact no god has ever been observed to be offended – only people.

    • Bill Formby Reply

      June 25, 2019 at 10:17 am

      Very true Glenn.

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