Students query Vatican’s astronomer about his faith


“The Church loves science. To be close to the universe is to be close to God” says Brother Guy Consolmagno,​ director of the Vatican Observatory.

He has been visiting New Zealand on a lecture tour been sponsored by Catholic Discovery (formerly the Catholic Enquiry Centre).

Consolmagno made this remark after students at Hamilton’s St John College challenged him on how he could remain a devout Christian without compromising his scientific integrity.

Not believing in creationism helps, Consolmagno said. He believes in evolution and finds God in the extra, unexplained areas of life.

He said there’s no conflict between science and religion, they are complementary.

Queries about what existed before God and if an asteroid will destroy the world were some of the other queries Consolmagno fielded.

When asked about the existence of aliens he said the bible doesn’t mention New Zealand, but here we are, leaving the possibility of extra-terrestrials open.

The final questions left the crowd in the high school library in stitches.

“What’s your IQ?”

“I don’t know,” Consolmagno said. “I’ve never checked.”

Consolmagno is a Jesuit religious brother who is “pushing 68” and was appointed by Pope Francis, who he sees several times a year at group audiences, in 2015.

Born in Michigan, a Catholic from birth with an Irish mum and Italian dad, he is an expert in planetary science with a PhD from Arizona University.

He taught at Harvard College, debated science with the late Professor Stephen Hawking and discovered meteorites in Antarctica.

An asteroid was named in his honour by the International Astronomical Union in 2000.


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