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Dutch origins of life centre will not make NASA’s mistake, will avoid theology


Suzan Mazur, author of Public Evolution Summit, writes at HuffPost that the principals of the Dutch Origins Center have pledged that with respect to involvement in theology,

“We will not make the mistake NASA made.” …

Several days later in Amsterdam, Origins Center coordinator Jan-Willem Mantel confirmed that theology is not part of the Dutch initiative.

Over a million US dollars were squandered by the NASA Astrobiology Institute (NAI) for a two-year program (2015-2017) to find out, among other things, how the religious community would respond to the discovery of extraterrestrial life—-a story I reported here, which Jerry Coyne picked up a few days later followed by the Freedom From Religion Foundation (FFRF) filing a Freedom of Information Act request. The NAI grant went to theologians roughly two years before the weakening of the wall between Church and State favored by the Trump administration. More.

internal structure of possibly life-harboring Europa/NASA

It’ll be interesting to see if the Trump administration renews the NASA grant. NASA’s apparent obsession with what world religions would think of ET life is hard to fathom. There is no story here because the only possible answer is, find some ET life and tell us about it. Otherwise, it’s like asking what would “world religions” think if the existence of ghosts could be scientifically proved? Everything would depend on the context…

One wonders if the grant wasn’t just successful private lobbying for a special favour for friends…

See also: Dutch universities involved in co-ordinated origin of life studies. More collaboration might result in fewer eurekas! and more meticulously worked out proposals. That could lend some needed seriousness to the discussion.

Origin of life paper with Nobelist author is retracted. But now the good news… The paper could actually be retracted! Wow. Origin of life attracts a lot of fanciful thinking and ideologically driven funding. So how do we know it isn’t all just the origin of hype? Because an OOL paper can be retracted. So there really is a definite fact base in there somewhere. Ironically, a retraction bolsters the field’s credibility.

Suzan Mazur: NASA, tax dollars, space aliens, and religion… Of course, it’s yet to be determined that most religious people have much invested in the matter one way or the other, relative to their irreligious neighbours.

Study: We would be cool with finding aliens It’s probably a waste of time to point this out but most people don’t actually think we ARE a lonely accident. And most don’t believe anything that would be directly contradicted by the existence of intelligent aliens. It’s good Varnum is doing the study though, just for the record.


Would the discovery of ET change ethics? Much of this is pretty specialized but to the extent that basic morality is linked with reason, ETs smart enough to get here or get found were smart enough not to have all killed each other off first. 😉

doing OOL research seems like a mistake they didn't avoid making. more resources are needed in serious biology research to figure out how exactly the gazillion biological systems function, not how we got them to begin with. What % of the deep pocket resources are assigned to OOL research compared to other biology-related investigation? http://www.calicolabs.com/ Dionisio

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