Introducing the Pope’s Planetologists

Introducing the Pope’s Planetologists March 5, 2019


VATT image of Crab Nebula
An image of the Crab Nebula, from the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope on Mount Graham, Arizona     (Wikimedia Commons public domain image)


Yale News:  “The case of the over-tilting exoplanets”


“The first planet Kepler spotted has finally been confirmed 10 years later: Astronomers had dismissed the exoplanet candidate as a false alarm”




The Pope Scope, where Guy Consolmagno spends part of each year
The Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (aka the “Pope Scope”), near Mount Graham, in southeastern Arizona    (Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)


In my capacity as a highly-paid apologist (whose apologetic checks seem to have been lost in the mail for the past thirty-plus years or so), I regularly encounter two distinct but related atheist claims about religion and science:


1.  Religious faith is incompatible with scientific reason, both as method and in terms of the substantial results.


2.  Religion has long been an enemy and an obstacle to science.


Both claims are, at point after point, demonstrably false.


Here, though, is a piece by two Jesuit scientists — one of them Dr. Guy Consolmagno, the Vatican astronomer — arguing against Claim #2:


This is an interesting and well-done little BBC video, roughly six minutes long, about the Vatican Observatory in Arizona:


I must say that the priest/astronomers in it come across a whole lot better than does Lawrence Krauss.


And here is an interesting article about astronomical activity sponsored by the Vatican:


Vatican stargazers look for divine inspiration


On the same subject:


“The Pope’s Planetologists”


Finally, in this context, I remind you that the Interpreter Foundation hosted that official Vatican Astronomer, the Jesuit brother Dr. Guy Consolmagno, at its 2016 Science & Mormonism Symposium.  He gave an excellent keynote address.  If you haven’t yet watched it, and if such things interest you at all, you should:


“Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance”


Dr. Consolmagno recounts an experience with the press, that, I confess, strikes me as entirely plausible:


“Except they kept asking me questions like ‘What is your biggest source of conflict about the Pope?’ Or ‘Has the Pope ever tried to suppress your scientific work?’ Completely out of left field!
“They didn’t want to hear me tell them how much Pope Benedict supported the Vatican Observatory and its scientific work. So, finally, frustrated that they weren’t getting the story they wanted out of me, one of them asked, ‘Would you baptize an extraterrestrial?’
“What did you answer?”
“Only if she asks!”
“I love it! How did they react?”
“They all got a good laugh, which is what I intended. And then, the next day, they all ran my joke as if it were a straight story, as if I had made some sort of official Vatican pronouncement about aliens.”



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