The challenges faced by modern science are “wonderful spurs to asking theological questions” the Pope’s astronomer, Bro Guy Consolmagno, said in Maynooth this week.
Addressing students and academics at St Patrick’s College, the director of the Vatican Observatory said science had impacted his experience of God in the same way that an artist experiences God by doing art and a poet experiences God by writing poetry.
“It is where I find God,” the American Jesuit said. “You don’t base your theology on science, but you let the science challenge your theology,” he said in his discussion of the relationship between faith and science.
On the “myth of the war between science and religion” he said this misconception was being marketed heavily today by scientists who seek to burnish their image by declaring their atheism and religious fundamentalists who say they have got the truth, and don’t need any science. “You find it basically among all sorts of fundamentalists,” the 70-year-old astronomer said.
Bro Guy Consolmagno, whose talk was titled: “The things they ask the Pope’s Astronomer”, told the packed lecture hall: “My religion tells me God made the universe. My science tells me how he did.”
His research has centred on the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system.
When science is done right, he said: “It is a source of joy and I feel in the presence of God. I’m experiencing God the Creator in the science I do, looking into how creation happens. Since the beginning of time, God has revealed himself in the things he is making.”
Referring to the opening of the Gospel of John and the use of the Greek word logos, the Jesuit Brother, who studied Classics before focusing on science, said people needed to remember that logos didn’t just mean word but it also meant reason.
“What a powerful thing to say about reason. It is the image and likeness of God,” he said and also underlined that importance of order and reason at the heart of the cosmos.
“The astounding thing about the universe is not that it is logical, but that it is beautiful,” he observed.