HOME

 

 

    NEWS

INTERVIEWS

RESOURCES

ABOUT

View by:

 SUBJECT

 THEME

QUESTION

  TERM

 PERSON

   EVENT

Conclusion

In this exploratory and speculative essay, I have tried to spell out ethical scenarios based upon existing prevalent assumptions. Included in these assumptions are such things as progress in evolution, intelligence or rationality as the criterion for measuring human advance, attaching human dignity to human rational capacity, and giving top priority to protecting ourselves and our planet. In principle, however, one could pursue astroethics with a different set of assumptions. Regarding our most valued criterion for human achievement, one could imagine replacing advanced intelligence with transformatory love. Then, peace and mutual benevolence would become the moral goal rather than merely just institutions. To follow this path has not been my task here.

As we have seen, astroethics today is necessarily a speculative endeavor. The astrobiology upon which astroethics deliberates is itself speculative. When it comes to extraterrestrial intelligent life forms, terrestrial scientists are comfortable imaginatively exporting to alleged habitats in space the idea of a separate genesis of life and a story of evolution parallel to earth’s story. Evolution in this case is assumed to be progressive, following an entelechy toward increased rational intelligence. In the case where the length of evolutionary development is less than or comparable to our own, we can expect inferior or equal levels of rational capacity. In the possible case where an extraterrestrial race has had more time to evolve, we can expect a level of rational intelligence superior to our own. Speculation on the part of the astroethicist should be ready to construct a framework for moral responsibility that corresponds to these three relevant moral communities.


Teed Peters is Professor of Systematic Theology at Pacific Lutheran Theological Seminary and the Graduate Theological Union. Along with Robert John Russell, he co-edits the journal, Theology and Science, at the Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. He is the author of The Evolution of Terrestrial and Extraterrestrial Life (Pandora Press, 2008) and co-author with Karen Lebacqz and Gaymon Bennett of Sacred Cells? Why Christians Should Support Stem Cell Research (Roman and Littlefield, 2008)

Along with Martinz Hewlett, he is co-author of Can You Believe in God and Evolution? (Abingdon, 2006).

 

Excerpted and Revised from a paper delivered in May 2008 at Biosphere 2 for the University of Arizona, College of Science Center for Astrobiology

In honor of Neville (Nick) J. Woolf

© Ted Peters

 Printer-friendly | Contributed by: Ted Peters

Topic Sets Available

AAAS Report on Stem-Cells

AstroTheology: Religious Reflections on Extraterrestrial Life Forms

Agency: Human, Robotic and Divine
Becoming Human: Brain, Mind, Emergence
Big Bang Cosmology and Theology (GHC)
Cosmic Questions CD-ROM Preview...
Cosmic Questions Interviews

Cosmos and Creator
Creativity, Spirituality and Computing Technologies
CTNS Content Home
Darwin: A Friend to Religion?
Demystifying Information Technology
Divine Action (GHC)
Dreams and Dreaming: Neuroscientific and Religious Visions'
E. Coli at the No Free Lunchroom
Engaging Extra-Terrestrial Intelligence: An Adventure in Astro-Ethics
Evangelical Atheism: a response to Richard Dawkins
Ecology and Christian Theology
Evolution: What Should We Teach Our Children in Our Schools?
Evolution and Providence
Evolution and Creation Survey
Evolution and Theology (GHC)
Evolution, Creation, and Semiotics

The Expelled Controversy
Faith and Reason: An Introduction
Faith in the Future: Religion, Aging, and Healthcare in the 21st Century

Francisco Ayala on Evolution

From Christian Passions to Scientific Emotions
Genetic Engineering and Food

Genetics and Ethics
Genetic Technologies - the Radical Revision of Human Existence and the Natural World

Genomics, Nanotechnology and Robotics
Getting Mind out of Meat
God and Creation: Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Perspectives on Big Bang Cosmology
God, Humanity and the Cosmos: A Textbook in Science and Religion
God the Spirit - and Natural Science
Historical Examples of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)
History of Creationism
Intelligent Design Coming Clean

Issues for the Millennium: Cloning and Genetic Technologies
Jean Vanier of L'Arche
Nano-Technology and Nano-ethics
Natural Science and Christian Theology - A Select Bibliography
Neuroscience and the Soul
Outlines of the Science and Religion Debate (GHC)

Perspectives on Evolution

Physics and Theology
Quantum Mechanics and Theology (GHC)
Questions that Shape Our Future
Reductionism (GHC)
Reintroducing Teleology Into Science
Science and Suffering

Scientific Perspectives on Divine Action (CTNS/Vatican Series)

Space Exploration and Positive Stewardship

Stem-Cell Debate: Ethical Questions
Stem-Cell Ethics: A Theological Brief

Stem-Cell Questions
Theistic Evolution: A Christian Alternative to Atheism, Creationism, and Intelligent Design...
Theology and Science: Current Issues and Future Directions
Unscientific America: How science illiteracy threatens our future
Will ET End Religion?

Current Stats: topics: >2600, links: >300,000, video: 200 hours.