Pope’s Astronomer on Great Barrier Is – science and religion

The Pope’s Astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno,  believes there is no conflict between science and religion.

Consolmagno is in New Zealand to take part in a panel discussion on extraterrestrial life at a festival on Great Barrier Island.

In an interview with Jamie Moreton in the New Zealand Herald Consolmagno said “And the reason that people think they are at odds is because most people stop learning about science when they’re 12, and most people stop learning about religion when they’re 12.”

What does a 12-year-old know about science? he asked.

“It’s a big book of facts, and they feel the same about religion; they learned it at Sunday school, so it must be true.”

“But when you get beyond all that stuff, you learn that science itself is not about collecting answers; it’s about asking the right questions, and getting used to concepts.

“It’s the same way I feel about anything that you love.”

“Spending time with the universe is a great way of getting to used to creation and the creator.”

Consolmagno said that if you love someone, you love the things they make – just ask a mother who puts pictures that their children create on the refrigerator – so if you love God, you’re going to love the things God made.

“This is going to make you want to know more and more about how the universe actually functions.”

“Deeper than that, there’s a sense that understanding science, and especially astronomy, is a great way to pull yourself out of ordinary, day-to-day life – you recognise that the universe is much bigger than your concerns about traffic, your dinner that night, or your job.”

Consolmagno does not think the topic of aliens is trivial or a distraction.

“I certainly would think that in 20 years from now, we will have strong evidence of certain planets around other stars that make us think, maybe there’s life out there.”

“But do I think we are going to get a message from space?”

“Probably not.”


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News category: New Zealand, Top Story.

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