Of Astronomy and a Jesuit Brother

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Blowing out the Catholic Cool-O-Meter is a Jesuit brother by the name of Br. Guy Consolmagno. If you haven’t heard of him yet, do yourself a favor and pick up one of his books.  Br. Guy is an American born research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. Yes, a Catholic religious brother was awarded one of planetary science’s most prestigious awards  – the Carl Sagan Medal “for outstanding communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public”.

In their announcement of the award the American Astronomical Society (AAS) has glowing praise for Br. Guy. They note that he “has a decades-long track record of communicating planetary science to the public while maintaining an active science career.” The AAS continues, “As a Jesuit Brother, Guy has become the voice of the juxtaposition of planetary science and astronomy with Christian belief, a rational spokesperson who can convey exceptionally well how religion and science can co-exist for believers.”



And convey he does. In his new book Would You Baptize An Extraterrestrial (released by Image Books on October 7th) he tackles the difficult questions of science and religion in an easy, conversation style read. The narrative slides back and forth between Br. Guy and his co-author Father Paul Mueller, SJ. Here are a few samples of the treat you are in for:

“Trying to use “science to prove the existence of God has the effect of making science a greater authority than religion – it gives science the last word over faith. It’s one thing to say that the complex beauty of nature reflects the glory of the Creator, and to delight in the design we see there; that the reason we do science is to glory in truth and the ultimate Author of truth. That’s fine religion. However to reduce God to simply another force of nature alongside electromagnetism or gravity, as the immediate reason sometimes happens, is bad theology and bad philosophy.”


“The great irony in all of this, as far as I am concerned, is that it’s the religious fundamentalist who end up being the ones who seem to be lacking in faith! When they insist that science and faith must be in agreement right now (and that therefore science should yield to faith), it shows that they don’t have faith in the ultimate unity of truth… they don’t have faith that God is the author of both books, of Nature and of Scripture… and they don’t have faith that God has made us in His image, with a limited-but-real capacity to read and understand both of the Two Books.”

You can listen to Br. Guy’s feature on NPR’s Here and Now, and follow him on twitter @specolations

Rachel Zamarron

Rachel Zamarron

Rachel is a wife, Catholic, and cowgirl. Married to her sweetheart Sam, the two of them are enjoying the adventures of life hand-in-hand.

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  1. I’ve read the book mentioned in this article (the title intrigued me), and I absolutely loved it. Highest recommendation. I especially appreciated the chapter on Galileo. Really put that whole affair into context. I had no idea how much it was intertwined with contemporary politics and even international affairs. Now the whole sorry story makes sense to me. Just for that one chapter alone, I would urge anyone interested in the interplay of science and religion to read Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial?

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