The Catholic News Agency (CNA) reported the announcement of a first-of-its-kind conference that the Society of Catholic Scientists (SCS) will be holding on the topic of non-human intelligence from 4th – 6th June 2021.

The conference titled “Extraterrestrials, AI, and Minds beyond the Human” will be held at the Hilton Hotel in Washington D.C., and will be streamed live for a larger online audience.

The speakers will provide theological and scientific information on the subject of hypothetical and real intelligence, particularly artificial intelligence and extraterrestrial notions.

The Society of Catholic Scientists was founded in 2016 as a group representing the union of science and faith.  Initially, the society consisted of just six members but now has expanded over fifty countries and has over 1400 members including scientists, students, and other intellectuals. The organization has become a platform that facilitates young Catholics studying various scientific disciplines and offers resources for educators, journalists, and the public.

Dr. Stephen Barr, the President of the SCS, while talking to CNA mentions the goal of the conference as opening discussions and reflecting upon the intersecting ideas of science, theology, and philosophy. He also placed emphasis on the idea of encouraging a positive collaboration between science and faith. 

Barr also talked about the agenda and structure of the conference.  He told the CNA that the conference would be a series of thirteen talks, half of which will be by notable experts about extraterrestrial life. Specifically, four speakers will talk about the matter of possible otherworldly life from their relevant fields of study including astrochemistry, astrophysics, Catholic theology, and evolutionary biology. Besides this, there will be dedicated sessions on the conference’s main theme and the correlation between faith and science.

CNA reports that the attendees will be able to attend the session by speakers including Jonathan Lunine, the director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science; Simon Conway Morris, the chair of Evolutionary Paleobiology at the University of Cambridge; Christopher Baglow, the director for Science and Religion Initiative at McGrath Institute for Church Life of the University of Notre Dame; Karen Oberg, professor of Astronomy and the director of undergraduate studies at Harvard University. Moreover, the agenda of the conference also has the St. Albert Award Lecture, presented by Lawrence Principe, Professor of Humanities at John Hopkins University.

Barr expressed great excitement about the conference in the light of recent groundbreaking discoveries, including the revelation of several new planets circling the nearby stars. He says that there is so much to learn about these discoveries. 


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