FFRF asks NASA to withdraw large religious grant

Jun 11, 2016

By FFRF Staff

The Freedom From Religion Foundation wants NASA to revoke a grant in excess of $1 million to a Christian-focused religious institute.

In May 2015, NASA’s astrobiology program awarded $1.108 million to the Center of Theological Inquiry for “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology, the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.” Center Director William Storrar stated at the time, “The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.”

The principal thrust of the grant is theological—and therefore religious. And though ostensibly ecumenical, the Center of Theological Inquiry is “rooted in Christian theology,” according to its website. NASA is giving money to a religious organization to determine how the possible future discovery of extraterrestrial life might impact Christian theology and religious beliefs.


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26 comments on “FFRF asks NASA to withdraw large religious grant

  • the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.

    How on earth, or anywhere else for that matter, can a study be made of the genesis of life in the Universe, when we don’t know if there is any (apart from here on earth)? That’s already being studied fairly comprehensively.

    “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology
    The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.

    I’m not the smartest person on this site, but I do read a great deal, and half a century ago | obtained an honours degree in philosophy. I can’t make any meaning out of these two quotes, which are further obfuscated by the personification of theology and astrobiology.

    If I were to mangle the language like that, do you suppose that NASA would slip me over $1m for my troubles?

  • @OP – NASA is giving money to a religious organization to determine how the possible future discovery of extraterrestrial life might impact Christian theology and religious beliefs.

    What next???

    NASA giving money to determine how the possible future discovery of extraterrestrial life might impact fortune telling and beliefs in astrology – perhaps????

  • I think it would be interesting to find out a) Why a faith-based group wants to expand their theological influence beyond our planet; and b) NASA’s justification/reasoning for approving the grant.

  • What the Hell? Nasa is giving tax payers money away? I don’t care what you call it.
    Everyday here in the USA I hear more lunatic crap and I think it can’t get worse.
    Then you have Trump.

  • Surely this group is incapable of doing serious work. They got the grant because someone at NASA had ties to them and had little loyalty to NASA. This is very similar to the corruption involved in any untendered contract.

  • “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology. The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.”

    These are the guys on Douglas Adams’s second spaceship.

  • It seems some already have plans to spread their woo to aliens!

    http://www.christianpost.com/news/vatican-astronomer-says-alien-life-will-be-discovered-but-will-not-prove-or-disprove-god-126813/

    Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, the new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, discusses possibility of alien life forms in video published Sept. 19, 2014.
    The new president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation has said that it is only a matter of time before alien life forms are discovered, which will pave the way to questions about God’s relationship to intelligent beings outside our planet.

    Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno speculated that the general public will not be too surprised when life on other planets is eventually discovered, and will react in much the same way it did when news broke in the ’90s that there are other planets orbiting far off stars.

    Consolmagno, a planetary scientist who has studied meteorites and asteroids as an astronomer with the Vatican Observatory since 1993, told Catholic News Service that discovery of alien life will not prove or disprove the existence of God, but will pave the way to questions on salvation and how it relates to intelligent species.

    Back in May, Roman Catholic Church leader Pope Francis mentioned alien life forms in one of his sermons, and suggested that even martians, should they visit Earth, would be welcomed to be baptized.

    “If, for example, tomorrow an expedition of martians came, and some of them came to us, here … martians, right? Green, with that long nose and big ears, just like children paint them. … And one says, ‘But I want to be baptized!’ What would happen?” Francis asked.

    The “god-question” unanswered?? – but “salvation” assumed and assured??????

  • 13
    bonnie2 says:

    Templeton Foundation, another blurred lines think tank, also provided funding.

    A mutual friendship betwixt Dr. Voytek and CTI director >

    she supplies the hard astrobiology science, he guides the morals / ethics / religion(“it can’t be ignored!”) slapped on any findings, that has their collective knickers in a twist.

  • I support research into the impact of life discovered elsewhere (on other planets etc.) on established religions. I think that would be interesting. But the funding for that should come from private sources, NOT an agency of the government. What’s next ? Government funding to study how new discoveries in real medicine affects homeopaths and naturopaths ??

  • @Phil #9

    Possibly. I’ve never been able to grasp the politics of politics.

    Of course, that means a few revisions will be in order for the Bible. It could spawn a whole new denomination, or maybe give “Unitarian Universalists” a whole new meaning.

  • @OP – the Center of Theological Inquiry for “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology, the study of the origins, evolution, distribution, and future of life in the universe.” Center Director William Storrar stated at the time, “The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.”

    Which translated into English means –

    “We want to look at the science of astrobiology, and make up some pseudo-science which will sound plausible to the uneducated – just like we did with theistic evolution and ‘god-did-it’ cosmology!”

    Center of Theological Inquiry for “an interdisciplinary inquiry on the societal implications of astrobiology,

    Of course any theological “interdisciplinary inquiry” into science subjects, is only going to have preconceived theological views in its “conclusions”, with a few science dabbling apologist stooges, hanging on its coat tails, pretending science and god-did-it are compatible!

  • Vicki

    Of course, that means a few revisions will be in order for the Bible. It could spawn a whole new denomination, or maybe give “Unitarian Universalists” a whole new meaning.

    I think Scientologists will will be next in line for a handout. They’ll point to Xenu and his dumping of surplus souls pickled in alcohol on our sorry little planet of Teegeeack.

    If Christianity sides with NASA, maybe Scientology could actually invest in SpaceX?

  • Well Stafford, This IS the USA, Trump is running for president, seventy five percent of my neighbors thinks there is a magic man watching every move they make.
    It’s right in line with this looney bin.

  • bonnie2 #4
    Jun 11, 2016 at 9:50 pm

    princetonmagazine.com/center-of-theological-inquiry

    I’ll put this later paragraph first!
    A $million of NASA money for a proselytising outfit with a staff of FOUR!??

    @link – “Punching above our weight” is a phrase Storrar has been known to use and when you consider the sheer size of the place—a full time staff of just four—you realize he has a point. The four include Storrar, the Center’s Director of Research Robin Lovin, a center administrator and a receptionist. The phrase could equally be applied to Storrar himself, a man of quiet determination and seemingly endless stamina.

    Fancy job-titles, and hype, with self-delusion thrown in!

    @link – If one were to draw a lines-of-influence map between CTI and the expertise of all of the research scholars and visitors who have crossed its threshold, the result would be a web of surprising connections and juxtapositions. Surprising to the man in the street that is, but not to Storrar, who is well aware of the Center’s reach.

    They collect people from far and wide who agree with religious preconceptions and attend proselytising meetings, so they MUST be leading experts!!!!! (Cough)

    “CTI is a catalyst for change starting with the residential scholars who visit each year and then go back to their own institutions where they teach differently, conduct their research differently, after being in a place that actively promotes thinking aloud together in a non-judgmental environment,” he says.

    I think the “non-judgmental environment”, is his way of saying, “considering mixing science and theology, with critical faculties switched off”!
    (Remind me! How many theologists discovered exo-planets using theology?)

    Indian theologian Jayakiran Sebastian calls it “a place where currents from all over the world, across the spectrum of theological, sociological, cultural inquiry flow together, ferment and flow out into areas which may not have been anticipated by its founders.”

    Yep! That sounds just like a mixture of theology and new-age woo!

    “We do one thing and one thing only at CTI,” says Storrar. “We gather the best scholars from any discipline and any part of the world to think together on a common big question of our time.

    I think “best scholars” is “religious promotional new-speak”, for “apologist stooges”! – Mind-fumbling around major scientific discoveries to try to cobble in religious thinking, does sound very much like a single minded focus on “doing one thing”!

    And we do that not through big conferences and large research projects but by small-scale conversations around our table; salon-style rather than lecture-hall style.”

    Ah! The Center of Theological Inquiry – A small committee of 4 of the apologist god-deluded, who have self-deluding hyped grand perceptions of themselves and their levels academic competence and importance, despite the fact they do no research, and who use “theological inquiry” thinking processes, which probably render them incapable of doing or evaluating scientific research!

    Sooooo typical of those who agree among themselves, to pretend science and religions are compatible, and that religious faith-thinking has any contribution to make to science or critical reasoning!

  • 21
    Pinball1970 says:

    @stafford-gordon

    “Spoof”

    Yes it is beyond crazy
    “The aim of this inquiry is to foster theology’s dialogue with astrobiology on its societal implications, enriched by the contribution of scholars in the humanities and social sciences.”

    I also struggled with this.

    I think Alan suggested the church are going to make up some crap why if there are aliens out there the bible is still valid? possibly a reference here of there of alien existence in the text?

    “theology’s dialogue with astrobiology.”

    How does that work? What could a theologian have to say that would interest an astrobiologist ?

  • 22
    bonnie2 says:

    @#21 – what could a theologian have to say […]

    see paragraph 12 @ #4 link – further, I think this ties in with Phil’s intimation of a funding tactic (#12).

  • bonnie2 @ # 22.

    That has a ring to it: bonnie2 @ # 22.

    “…I think this ties in with Phil’s intimation of a funding tactic (#12).”.

    Oh yes, God always needs more money!

  • If intelligent aliens were found, their social structures, psychology, and technologies, should be studied, but theologians, are probably the least suitable people to send as academics, negotiators, or ambassadors!

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