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Papal astronomer encourages stargazing as religious practice


Kamrul Arifin | Shutterstock

John Burger - published on 03/18/21

Science requires religion, Brother Guy Consolmagno tells Loyola Marymount students.

Are science and religion compatible? The director of the Vatican Observatory goes beyond that question and maintains that science requires religion.

Jesuit Brother Guy J. Consolmagno, an American who heads the Vatican Observatory, recently showed a photograph that was taken from the Vatican’s telescope on Mt. Graham in Arizona — a cluster of galaxies — to a group of students at Loyola Marymount University in California.

“What does it mean to be a fellow creature in such a huge creation?” he asked, according to a report at Angelus News. “Every swatch of light is billions of stars with tens of billions of planets and hundreds of billions of such galaxies that we can see. To take that all in requires religion. I maintain that science requires religion, and not every religion allows science.”

Consolmagno said that one doesn’t use a telescope to discover God but “to get to know God’s personality better.”

In a March 11 Zoom presentation for Loyola Marymount’s Frank R. Seaver College of Science and Engineering, Consolmagno said that science is important in understanding God’s creation.  

“Because God made it, [cosmology] is a way of getting closer to God and this universe is good and beautiful, not just the sunset, but all the equations that describe the sunset,” he said. “It is only when we embrace cosmology with our entire soul, both our reason and our heart, that we actually can find God in that cosmology. And if you don’t use both, then your God is too small.”

Angelus News’ Tom Hoffarth wrote: 

Consolmagno said the joy he has returned to in scientific pursuits is where he finds God in his work. It is where he said one emphasizes the starting point of using axioms in an intellectual process of proving or disproving a scientific theory.“God is one of the axioms that I always start with,” he said. “If I believe this universe is going to be logical and beautiful and worth studying, then I will start the chain of trying to understand it and the universe of seeing God. I can’t turn it around the other way.”

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