Thinking about religion and science while in Arizona

Thinking about religion and science while in Arizona October 16, 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)


In my capacity as a highly-paid apologist for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (whose apologetic checks seem to have been lost in the mail for the past nearly forty 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 is Dr. Guy Consolmagno, the “Vatican astronomer” (which is to say, the director of the Vatican Observatory and the president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation) — arguing against Claim #2:


And here, while we’re at it, is an interesting and well-done little BBC video, about six minutes long, about the Vatican Observatory in Arizona:


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


Dr. Consolmagno (who, by the way, is an exceedingly pleasant person), obtained his S.B. (1974) and his S.M. (1975) degrees at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and his Ph.D. (1978) at the University of Arizona’s Lunar and Planetary Laboratory, all in planetary science. After postdoctoral research and teaching at the Harvard College Observatory and MIT, he joined the US Peace Corps in 1983 to serve in Kenya for two years, where he taught astronomy and physics.  Thereafter, he returned to the United States for what at first seemed a reasonably conventional career in academic science teaching at the university level.  However, in 1989 he joined the Society of Jesus (aka the Jesuits), taking vows as a lay brother.


Dr. Consolmagno, who is also known as Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., delivered an excellent keynote address at the Interpreter Foundation’s second conference on science and religion, which was held in 2016.  It is available at no charge in video form:


“Astronomy, God, and the Search for Elegance”


Dr. Consolmagno’s remarks were introduced by his friend (since University of Arizona days) and fellow planetary scientist Dr. Jani Radebaugh, who teaches at Brigham Young University.  She herself has a fascinating and relevant talk up on the Interpreter Foundation website:


“The Outer Solar System: A Window to the Creative Breadth of Divinity”


Continuing with this always lively topic of faith and reason and religion and science, you might enjoy another piece, which appeared in the Deseret News earlier this year:


“Guest opinion: Does science destroy religion and scripture?”


Posted from Tempe, Arizona



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