Astrobiology (general)

Vatican Hosts Study Week onAstrobiology

By Keith Cowing
November 22, 2009

This past week in Rome as part of the International Year of Astronomy, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences hosted a Study Week on Astrobiology, an interdisciplinary event during which “cloistered astrobiologists confronted each other’s fields of research” and dialogued about the connections. The participants included many from the extended astrobiology community, including John Baross, David Charbonneau, Roger Summons, Andy Knoll, Chris Impey, Jonathan Lunine, Jill Tarter, Sara Seager, and Giovanna Tinetti.

“The questions of life’s origins and of whether life exists elsewhere in the universe are very suitable and deserve serious consideration,” said the Rev. Jose Gabriel Funes, an astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, in an Associated Press Interview. Funes, a Jesuit priest, also said that the possibility of alien life raises “many philosophical and theological implications” but added that the gathering was mainly focused on the scientific perspective and how different disciplines can be used to explore the issue. RadioVaticana reports.

Today, NAI Director Carl Pilcher and Vatican Observatory astronomer and Jesuit brother Guy Consolmagno continue the conversation with Anna Maria Tremonti, host of the Canadian Broadcasting Company’s radio program The Current. Their discussion ranges from what it would mean to the Church if alien life were found, to whether or not science needs religion. [Source NASA Astrobiology]

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