Living with Tiny Aliens
My project examines the ethical responsibility of human beings towards alien microbial life, given a non-exclusionary understanding of the moral obligation entailed in being the image of God. Such microbial life has not been discovered; nonetheless, I will examine what the moral obligation would entail in terms of three astrobiological scenarios by which such life could be encountered. The first two scenarios concern the near future: considering our ethical responsibility towards (1) exoplanets that might be home to microbial life as indicated by the presence of atmospheric biosignatures and (2) 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.
Adam Pryor is Assistant Professor of Religion and Director of the Varenhorst Center for Discovery, Reflection, and Vocation at Bethany College in Lindsborg, KS. His research draws on methods in phenomenology and applies them to interdisciplinary problems addressed in religion and science—particularly issues related to philosophy of biology, embodiment, and the environment. He earned his doctoral degree from the Graduate Theological Union in Systematic and Philosophical Theology, including a certificate in Women’s Studies in Religion. His dissertation was “The God Who Lives: An Examination of the Emergence of Life and the Doctrine of God.”