i dont even really see the conflict here. the study of exo-planets is furthering our knowledge greatly regardless of the life issue.
We knew next to nothing about system formation before we looked at exo planets. Now we still know next to nothing, but a lot more than we did. We have found sytems that we thought were impossible, like planet formation around biary systems.
to study their atmospheres will just as likely add to our knowledge of planetary formation. compared to manned exploration, this is cheap science