Assistant Professor of Religion Adam Pryor has been selected to participate on a research team at Princeton University’s Center of Theological Inquiry for the next academic year.
Professor Pryor will be a research fellow on an interdisciplinary team of theologians and scholars in the humanities and social sciences that will work in dialogue with leading astrobiologists on the Societal Implications of Astrobiology. The research team is in its second year of inquiry and is supported by the NASA Astrobiology Program and the John Templeton Foundation.
Professor Pryor is among 15 team members selected this year who come from across the globe, including the United Kingdom, Switzerland, Sweden, Finland and the United States. As part of the team, he will be working on a book project, tentatively entitled Living-With Tiny Aliens. It examines the ethical responsibility of human beings towards alien microbial life, given the moral obligation entailed within the Christian tradition that human beings are created in the image of God.
“Such microbial life has not been discovered; nonetheless, I will be examining what the moral obligation would entail in terms of three astrobiological scenarios by which such life could be encountered,” he said. “The first two scenarios concern the near future, considering our ethical responsibility towards exoplanets that might be home to microbial life as indicated by the presence of atmospheric biosignatures; and alien microbial life we could directly discover within our own solar system. The final scenario turns to the far future, considering what our ethical responsibility would be towards alien microbial life on a planet colonized by human beings.”