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What is Life? An Interdisciplinary Magi Conference

June 16, 2022 @ 7:00 pm - June 18, 2022 @ 4:30 pm

June 1618, 2022

Collegium Institute
University City, Philadelphia

Time: 7:00 PM (June 16) – 4:30 PM (June 18)

Join Collegium Institute for a summer conference on the meaning of life from a philosophical, scientific, and theological standpoint

Are we in the midst of a second Copernican Revolution, with the frontiers of scientific research leading us to reevaluate our place and role in the universe? The discovery of untold numbers of planets outside our solar system that seem to meet certain biological requirements make it statistically likely that there is life on other worlds. Even here on earth, humans are not the only creatures that have language and tools while trees communicate and seem to exhibit some sort of intelligence. We inch ever closer to artificial intelligence. In short, it might appear that we are no longer special, nor even live in a special place. This has profound implications for our understanding of life, ourselves and our place in the universe and raises questions across world cultures and religious traditions.

This summer, scientists, philosophers and theologians are coming together for an international, multiday collaborative conversation to discuss these new frontiers of science, reason, and faith. Celia Deane-Drummond (Oxford) will give a keynote address. Committed plenary speakers currently include Robert Berwick (MIT), Anne Foerst (St. Bonaventure), Marie George (St. John’s), Noreen Herzfeld (St. John’s University), Jonathan Lunine (Cornell), Stephen Meredith (University of Chicago), and Eric Turkheimer (University of Virginia). Michelle Francl (Bryn Mawr College) will give the closing remarks. The conference will be structured around 6 subquestions, each of which will platform two discussants from different disciplines in the sciences and humanities. The aim is to publish these initial statements along with their post-conference reflections in a special conversational issue of the PRRUCS Journal.

Thursday, June 16, Opening Lecture: Open to the public and registration link will be available soon

Friday, June 17 – Saturday, June 18, Full Conference: This conference is open to graduate and professional students, faculty, undergraduate students, and independent scholars.

Early Bird Registration (Through May 15 or until seats run out): $20

Regular Registration: $40

Student Registration: Free. If you are a student, email Emmie Brown at ebrown@collegiuminstitute.org from your university-affiliated email address to request the student discount code.

This conference was made possible through the support of ‘In Lumine: Supporting the Catholic Intellectual Tradition on Campuses Nationwide’ (Grant #62372) from the John Templeton Foundation. The opinions expressed in this conference are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the John Templeton Foundation.

We will be joined by the following scholars at this conference:

Celia Deane-Drummond
Robert Berwick
Anne Foerst
Marie I. George
Noreen Herzfeld
Jonathan Lunine
Eric Turkheimer

Register here.


June 16, 2022 @ 7:00 pm
June 18, 2022 @ 4:30 pm
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