12th October 2018. Workshop: Extra-terrestrial life and purpose in the universe

Extra-terrestrial life and purpose in the Universe

This interdisciplinary workshop brings together theologians, philosophers of religion, and moral philosophers to explore the potential impact of the discovery of extra-terrestrial life on our contemporary views about the existence or nature of God, the badness of human extinction, and the scale of our cosmic importance. Speakers have been invited to address the following thought experiment: ‘Suppose you woke up tomorrow to learn that conclusive evidence of extra-terrestrial life had been discovered. How would this affect your thinking on the topics in philosophy or theology that you are most interested in? Would it matter whether the discovery concerned extra-terrestrial life in general as opposed to intelligent life?’

Free to attend

Location: Senate Room, St. Mary’s College, University of St. Andrews

Draft Timetable and Papers:

Welcome: 9:00

Session 1: 9:05 to 10:05: Tim Mulgan, Professor of Moral and Political Philosophy, University of St Andrews, ‘Cosmic Purpose, Future Ethics, and Extra-terrestrial Life’

Short Break: 10:05 to 10:10

Session 2: 10:10 to 11: 10: David Wilkinson, Professor and Principal of St John’s College, Durham University, ‘Why Christian Theology should take SETI seriously’

Coffee: 11:10 to 11:40

Session 3: 11:40 to 12:40: James Lenman, Professor of Philosophy, University of Sheffield, ‘Very Distant Others’

Lunch: 12:40 to 14:10

Session 4: 14:10 to 15:10: Jonathan Rutledge, Research Fellow, Logos Institute for Analytic and Exegetical Theology, University of St Andrews, ‘Tempering the Cosmic Scope Problem in Christian Soteriology: Gregory of Nazianzus and Hylomorphic Animalism’

Short Break: 15:10 to 15:20

Session 5: 15:20 to 16:20: Sophie-Grace Chappell, Professor of Philosophy, The Open University, ‘Calling Home’

Coffee: 16:20 to 16:40

Session 6: 16:40 to 17:40: Roundtable

To register, email the organiser, Tim Mulgan (tpm6@st-andrews.ac.uk).

We gratefully acknowledge support from the Royal Society of Edinburgh.