Institute on Religion in an Age of Science 2024

June 23 - June 30

Habitability and Your Cosmic Future: AstroAnthropology Meets AstroEthics

Astrobiology, astronomy and planetary science – investigating Earth and local planets as well as planets orbiting other stars – invite us to consider life in cosmic context. This conference will weave together diverse interdisciplinary threads from the natural and social sciences and the humanities to consider the place and purpose of humanity in a context in which Earth might not be our only home and in which we may not be alone. Our plenary speakers (leading scientists, religionists and ethicists) will draw on cutting-edge thinking in astrobiology, including emerging thought on “habitability,” and astrophilosophy and theology to consider many questions, including:

• How would expanding humanity into outer space affect culture, arts and many other aspects of human civilization?
• What impact would contact with alien life, or even alien civilizations, have on human religions? Are ancient doctrines deep enough to grapple with the mind-boggling vastness of space?
• Would our biology and anthropology apply to alien life? What does it mean to be “alive”? Would aliens be “intelligent” and “spiritual” in ways we could relate to?
• Can we develop a concrete astroethics: moral principles in planetary perspective? Would our familiar moral anthropologies need to become astroanthropologies to engage new kinds of beings?
• Would earth-sourced colonists – to Mars and beyond – be so changed as to become alien? Would our ethics need to become “astroethics” to prepare people for planetary journeys? How might religion help and hinder the process?
• What are the implications of “commercial” space exploration?
We invite all to engage in creative spiritual and moral speculation on a fast approaching future and fundamental issues that we confront in the present.

Plenary Speakers

Dr. Andrew M. Davis, program director for the Center for Process Studies at Claremont School of Theology, author of Exotheology and Cosmic Religion: Extraterrestrial Life in a Process Universe (2023). Dr. Lucas Mix author and manager Equipping Leadership in an Age of Science, and in 2021 NASA/Library of Congress Blumberg Chair in Astrobiology. Dr. Ted Peters Emeritus Professor at The Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley, author of God: The World’s Future, and is the founder and co-editor of the Journal Theology and Science, at the GTU’s Center for Theology and the Natural Sciences. Dr. Jennifer Wiseman astrophysicist, author, and speaker, she studies the process of star and planet formation in our galaxy using radio, optical, and infrared telescopes. co-discovering comet Wiseman-Skiff in 1987; she is currently a senior astrophysicist at the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. Dr. Margaret Race astrobiologist serving as Senior Scientist for Planetary Protection and Risk Communication at the SETI Institute in Mountain View, CA and author of numerous papers on the ethics of space exploration. Dr. Shoaib Ahmed Malik presently serving as a Visiting Researcher at St. Mary’s University, Twickenham (UK). Holding dual expertise in Science and Religion, he has a PhD in Chemical Engineering and a PhD in Theology; He recently co-edited Islamic Theology and Extraterrestrial Life New Frontiers in Science and Religion.

Program Fee

Early bird registration (before March 15): Student $150, Limited income $200 IRAS member/$250 nonmember, Standard rate $275 IRAS member/$375 nonmember, Sustainer rate $350 IRAS member/$450 nonmember, Child (age 3-17) $150. Regular Registration (March 15 or later): Student $150, Limited income $225 IRAS member/$275 nonmember, Standard rate $300 IRAS member/$400 nonmember, Sustainer rate $375 IRAS member/$475 nonmember, Child (age 3-17): $150

Room & Board

The rates below are per person for the full length of the conference.

Adults (18+) 

Standard Shared: $1,222 | Standard Single: $1,662

Motel Shared: $1,504 | Motel Single: $2,207 


Under 6: Free | 6-11 years: $565 | 12-17 years: $809 

Boat Schedule

Departure from Portsmouth June 23rd 2:20 PM  

Departure from Star Island June 30th 8:50 AM