Astrobiology and Us. Social and political implications of a “new” science

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Andrea Vicini, SJ

 Andrea Vicini, SJ / Issue 1705 / 15 June 2017

During the academic year 2015/16, an international group of twelve professors, including ten theologians, sponsored by the Center of Theological Inquiry in Princeton (New Jersey, USA), reflected on astrobiology – a rapidly developing field of interdisciplinary scientific research – and in particular on its social implications.1

Responsive interaction between theologians and astrobiologists allowed the group to achieve two objectives. Firstly, the astrobiologists enabled the theologians to acquire specific knowledge of this new area of research. Secondly, together they were able to define some of the social implications of astrobiology and make some suggestions for addressing them. With the shared intention of thoughtfully evaluating what kind of society and living conditions we want for ourselves and for future generations, they then broadened their reflection to consider what animates scientific research, both astrobiological and theological – what are its values, its concerns, the questions posed, and the answers formulated.

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