2020 SCS Conference

Jun 57, 2020


The 4th annual conference of the Society of Catholic Scientists will be held on June 5-7, 2020 at Providence College, in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. 

Themes of the Conference

The title of the conference is “Extraterrestrials, AI, and Minds Beyond the Human."   The conference talks will focus primarily on various kinds of real or hypothetical intelligences that are not human or biologically related to humans, especially extraterrestrial intelligence and artificial intelligence.   What does science say about the prospects of extraterrestrial intelligence existing?  Would such beings be likely to be similar to us and have similar minds? What would be the implications for Catholic theology?  Is artificial intelligence possible?  Would it truly have "intellect"?  What would be its implications?  These and other questions will be discussed by members of the SCS and other eminent scholars from a variety of disciplines.

Four of the invited speakers  will be discussing the possibiliity of extraterrestrial life from the standpoint of astrophysics (Jonathan Lunine, Cornell), astrochemistry (Karin Öberg, Harvard), evolutionary biology (Simon Conway Morris, Cambridge), and Catholic theology (Christopher Baglow, Notre Dame).  The St. Albert Award Lecture will be given by Lawrence Principe (Johns Hopkins). The Banquet speaker will be Jennifer Wiseman (NASA).  In addition, there will be six contributed talks on the theme of the conference and other topics, which will be selected from submitted abstracts.  There will also be two Poster Sessions, one for presentations related to the theme of the conference, and one for presentations on other topics, which may be connected in some way to the relation of science and faith, or about the presenter's own research. 

Conference Program and Schedule

Here is the Program and Schedule (subject to minor revision) 

Biographies of the Invited Speakers 

Here are the Biographies of Speakers (At the moment, the invited speakers only.)

Submitting Abstracts for Contributed Talks and Poster Presentations

To submit an abstract, send it as a Word document of less than 300 words to smpbarr@gmail.com before April 1.   Selections will be made in early April.  Please indicate whether you wish it to be considered as a contributed talk, or as a poster presentation, or as either.   

There will be six contributed talks, selected from submitted abstracts with preference in selection given to those related to the conference themes.  There will also be two Poster Sessions. One for presentations more closely related to the themes of the conference, and one for presentations on other topics,  which may be connected in some way to the relation of science and faith, or about the presenter's own research. 

Travel and Lodging

Providence, RI, has an airport (PVD) that has direct flights from several cities, including Chicago. It is also only one hour by car from Boston, Massachusetts and Boston’s Logan International Airport.  There are many Amtrak trains daily that stop at Providence and at cities along the Northeast Corridor, including Washington, DC, Baltimore, Philadelphia, Newark, New York, New Haven, and Boston.  

Dorms will be available to conference attendees at the rate of $40 per night.  Blocks of rooms at a special conference rate will be available at several local hotels.  When the Registration Page opens on March 15, an e-mail will be sent to all SCS members and SCS Scholar Associates with links to the Registration Page (where one can also reserve dorm rooms) and contact information for the conference hotels.

Registration and Registration Fee

The Registration Fee will be $145 (US), discounted to $75 for students (grad or undergrad) , and zero for clergy and religious.  The Regstration Page will be open on March 15, at which time all SCS members and SCS Scholar Associates will receive an e-mail with a link to it.

More information will be posted here as it becomes available.