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Tags: Religion | nasa | aliens | princeton

NASA Taps Theologians to Assess How Humans Will React if Life Found on Other Planets

the nighttime sky
(Sipa via AP Images)

By    |   Sunday, 26 December 2021 09:05 AM

NASA is reportedly hiring two dozen theologians to take part in a program at Princeton University to assess how humans will react if alien life is found on other planets, and how that would impact ideas about creation and God.

The NASA-sponsored program at the Center for Theological Inquiry is described as building “bridges of understanding by convening theologians, scientists, scholars, and policymakers to think together - and inform public thinking - on global concerns.”

“The headline findings are that adherents of a range of religious traditions report that they can take the idea in their stride,” the Rev. Andrew Davison, one of 24 religious members who’s taken part in the project wrote in his book “Astrobiology and Christian Doctrine,” due to be published in 2022, the Sunday Times reported.

“Non-religious people also seem to overestimate the challenges that religious people... would experience if faced with evidence of alien life.”

Davison writes that “creation” is seen as a “generous gift” from God and said: “That would apply equally to . . . whatever other life there might be in the universe.”

Between September 2016 and June 2017, Davison spent an academic year at Princeton as part of the program sponsored with $1.1 million from NASA called “The Societal Implications of Astrobiology,” the Sunday Times reported.

Carl Pilcher, who was head of NASA’s Astrobiology Institute until 2016, told the news outlet NASA was investigating profound questions about the origins of life and its place in the universe and wanted theologians to “consider the implications of applying the tools of late 20th [and early 21st] century science to questions that had been considered in religious traditions for hundreds or thousands of years.”

Davison’s book notes a “large number of people would turn to their religions traditions for guidance” on what alien life means “for the standing and dignity of human life,” noting: “Detection [of alien life] might come in a decade or only in future centuries or perhaps never at all, but if or where it does, it will be useful to have thought through the implications in advance.”

In 2008, the Vatican's chief astronomer said there is no conflict between believing in God and in the possibility of 'extraterrestrial brothers' perhaps more evolved than humans, the Daily Mail reported.

“In my opinion this possibility [of life on other planets] exists,” said Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, who heads the Vatican Observatory, the Daily Mail reported.

“How can we exclude that life has developed elsewhere,' he told the Vatican newspaper L'Osservatore Romano in an interview last week, explaining the large number of galaxies with their own planets made this possible.

“Certainly, in a universe this big you can't exclude this hypothesis,” ‘he told the Daily Mail.

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NASA is reportedly hiring two dozen theologians to take part in a program at Princeton University to assess how humans will react if alien life is found on other planets, and how that would impact ideas about creation and God.
nasa, aliens, princeton
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2021-05-26
Sunday, 26 December 2021 09:05 AM
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