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Thursday, 10 May 2018 20:15

"The universe is marvellous" - Vatican astronomer

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0518 BrGuyVaticanObservatory 150The human understanding of the universe had been limited by what humans have perceived the cosmos to be versus the reality of what the cosmos truly represents, according to the Director of the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, who visited Australia recently.

"We tend to make the universe shrink to match our expectations. Pull yourself out of the universe that you and I live in," he said. "The universe is marvellous and that’s why I claim that doing science is a religious act.


"I think today it’s important to remind religious people that science is part of our religious heritage. That science began in the medieval universe that was founded by the Church. That so much of science was done by people acting out of religious motive." 

The crowd, gathered inside Federation Square’s Deakin Edge auditorium, were fixed on Br Guy’s vivid presentation slides as he navigated the enchanted ticket holders through a galaxy of scientific understanding and spiritual reflection.

Br Guy is the Director of the Vatican Observatory, one of the oldest astronomical research institutions in the world and prior to his appointment as Director in 2014, had been based at the Holy See’s observatory since 1993.

When asked how he reconciled his faith with his science, Br Guy explained it was how "nerds like me deal with religion".

"Of all the possible ways of understanding God, there are a few traits of how I recognise truth when it comes to science that I feel I can also recognise when I see the God of Christianity. Firstly, if it can completely explain everything, it can’t possibly be true … there has to be a God that is richer and deeper than that.

"Catholicism … has the complexity that can deal with not only all the things the world has thrown at us but also all the things that the world can throw at us.

"It shares with other great religions, the fact that it has survived great changes in our scientific cosmology. The cosmology of Genesis was of a flat earth with a dome with water above and below the dome and bigger than that is God who made it and that is consistent with Catholicism.

"Now we have a universe that is 13.8 billion light years in every direction and bigger than that is the God that made it. But it’s still a God that acts out of love, beauty and joy.

"It’s not because of my science I believe in God but it is because of my God I believe in science."

This story first appeared at melbournecatholic.org.au.

Photo: Ken Nakanishi/MelbourneCatholic