Astronomer explains science-religion connection

“My religion tells me who created the universe,” the Pope’s astronomer and director of the Vatican Observatory says.

“My science tells me how he did it.”

Theologian and scientist Jesuit Br Guy Consolmagno is a graduate of Harvard University and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).

He also studied philosophy as part of his Jesuit formation.

Speaking to University of Detroit Mercy students and staff in a lecture entitled “Where Faith and Science Meet,” he said the more he discovers in science, the more he feels himself connecting with God.

“Most students going to college in engineering or science enter those fields looking for the truth.

“They’re frustrated because religion is very full of fallible people, so they’ve given up on religion but they’re still looking for God.

“The thing about philosophy, mathematics and science, is that it’s logical,” Cosolmagno explained.

He pointed to three logical axioms he believes underpin science: Reality exists; The universe operates by repeatable laws; Science is worth doing because looking at and understanding the universe is good within itself.

Given that we all assume that reality exists, Cosolmagno explained that, as humans, scientists cannot prove reality to be otherwise.

This ties philosophical thought into science.

“Science is trying to come up with an explanation for the things we see in nature.”

This is why scientific laws about the universe’s operation being governed by repeatable laws exist, he said.

“If you don’t believe in God, then you have to come up with another way to explain nature.

“But to be an atheist, you must have a very clear idea of the God you don’t believe in. Otherwise, how do you know you don’t believe in him?”

He went on to say the Genesis explanation of creation shows the universe was made “in a logically ordered fashion.”

He explained that this logic “forgoes the religious attributes of Genesis” and connected it to God’s creation process and the intent behind it.

In relation to science being worth doing because looking at and understanding the universe is good within itself, Cosolmagno said: “There is a lot of evil in the world and we don’t know why, and this evil can lead us to mistakenly believe that the universe is evil.”

In essence, “Religion gives you the basis that allows science to occur [and] it “acts as a basis for scientific discovery.”


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