The astronomer for the Vatican Observatory, Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., says that his study of the universe through science has helped him better understand the person of Christ.
Despite people often having the “crazy idea” that science and religion conflict, science is “really one of our best principles for getting to know God,” he told EWTN News.
Br. Consolmagno – who also serves as the Vatican's curator of meteorites – spoke on March 3 at the Living the Catholic Faith Conference in the Archdiocese of Denver, Colo.
During his talk, titled “The Word Became Flesh,” the planetary scientist explained that modern atheists tend to understand God as being merely a force that “fills the gaps” in our understanding of the universe.
“To use God to fill the gaps in our knowledge is theologically treacherous,” Br. Consolmagno said, because it minimizes God to just another force inside the universe rather than recognizing him as the source of creation.
Those who believe in God should not be afraid of science, but should see it as a an opportunity that God gave humanity to get to know him better.
Br. Consolmagno said that he believes in God, “not because he is at the end of some logical chain of calculations” but because he “experienced what physics and logic can show me but cannot explain: beauty and reason and love.”
The primary difference between him and atheistic scientist Stephen Hawking is that he recognizes that God is not another part of the universe that explains the inexplicable, but rather “Logos” and “Reason itself.”
He spoke of the faith needed to embrace Christianity and said that although other world religions and philosophies can give us a rational view of the universe, “only the Gospel could tell us that Reason itself became flesh and dwelt among us” in the form of Jesus Christ.
The Incarnation is remarkable because it happened, Br. Consolmagno said, and also due to the way it occurred. In coming into the world as an infant, God “exercised a kind of supernatural restraint” which still respected the laws of nature.
The Vatican Observatory was established in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII near St. Peter's Basilica but was moved a few miles outside of Rome in 1935 when pollution made visibility difficult. The Vatican established a new division of the Observatory in Tuscon, Ariz. in 1980 and built its own telescope in 1987.