by Samantha Lin
ROME — Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ, director of the Vatican Observatory, offered the second lecture of the Vincent Pallotti Institute’s autumn lecture series last week, titled “The Peripheries in the Sky.”
Before joining the Society of Jesus, Brother Consolmagno earned his doctorate in planetary science and served with the Peace Corps in Kenya for two years. Soon after taking his vows as a Jesuit brother, he was assigned in 1993 to the Vatican Observatory, where he was named director by Pope Francis in 2015.
Brother Consolmagno said most people must work at “pulling ourselves out of the universe” they think they know. He projected photos and videos of outer space — windswept, sun-beaten, forbidden-looking places, that nevertheless proclaim the glory of God.
As participants looked at images of the moons of Jupiter, the strangeness of the Arctic, the surface of Mars, Brother Consolmagno read excerpts from his favorite psalm, Psalm 139, and St. Francis of Assisi’s “Canticle of the Creatures.”
Brother Consolomagno said scientific and planetary exploration is for him “an act of worship,” a way of getting close to the Creator by marveling in his works.
He then spoke about the evolution of science and its relationship with religion. As science develops, there is a tendency to label everything humans do not understand as “God.” He called this “the god of the gaps.”
Br. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, during his lecture “Peripheries in the Sky”
But, as science evolves and the gaps disappear, God is pushed further away by some scientists and theorists, such as Stephen Hawkings, who, in his writings, replaces the notion of a Creator with the human person and theorizes that people could re-create the Big Bang.
Ultimately, Bother Consolmagno explained, faith tells us that there is reason behind creation.
“God made the universe, the Big Bang is the best description of it. Ultimately it is because the will of God,” he said.
And, when people look for an explanation of the universe, both religion and science tell equally important things.
“Why is there a Universe? Because God wanted a universe. Why is there a Universe? Because the Big Bang happened. Both are equally true and don’t contradict each other,” he said.
For those of you who were unable to attend the lecture, click here: First Part ; Second Part
The next lecture in this fall series is Nov. 2. For information, go to www.laycentre.org.