Vatican astronomer to address science, religion in Minneapolis lecture

Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, will visit the Twin Cities April 17 to deliver the 9th V. Elving Anderson Lecture in Science and Religion at McNamara Alumni Center on the campus of the University of Minnesota.

The lecture, titled “Captured by the Stars: Why Do We Look Up to the Heavens?” is sponsored by Anselm House, a Christian study center at the University of Minnesota.

While many scientific disciplines evoke a sense of awe and wonder, astronomy is ideally situated to ask deep and profound questions about our human existence, the Anselm House stated a news release about the event. Recent discoveries have shed new light on humanity’s position in the universe and also raised new questions about our cosmic origins and its final fate.

In his lecture, Brother Consolmagno will use these questions as a starting point to explore the meaning and significance of science, and humanity’s motivation for doing science, the release noted. He will use the history of the Catholic Church’s relationship with astronomy, including research happening at the Vatican Observatory, to illustrate that our deepest questions about what the universe is and how it works are, at their root, religious questions.

Brother Consolmagno is a planetary scientist with numerous scientific contributions to the field of small bodies in the solar system. In 2015 he was appointed director of the Vatican Observatory and president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation. He holds degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and earned his doctorate in planetary science from the University of Arizona. He was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT before serving in the U.S. Peace Corps (Kenya) and teaching university physics at Lafayette College. In 1989 he entered the Jesuits and was assigned to the Vatican Observatory. He is the curator of the Vatican Meteorite Collection and was the 2014 recipient of the Carl Sagan Medal for outstanding communication to the general public by the Division for Planetary Sciences of the American Astronomical Society.

“It is such an honor to have Brother Guy Consolmagno with us for two days to engage faculty and students with these important ideas,” said Arend Poelarends, director of the Center for Faith and Learning at Anselm House and an astronomer himself.

“Looking up to the skies brings up this sense of awe and wonder in every human being, and we start asking questions about who we are, where we come from, why we are here, and how big the universe is,” he said. “These are questions that people have been asking for thousands of years, and the answers that scientists provide are beautifully complemented by answers formulated in faith traditions.”

What:              Captured by the Stars: Why Do We Look Up to the Heavens?
Who:               Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., director of the Vatican Observatory
When:             7 to 8:30 p.m. Monday, April 17
Where:           McNamara Alumni Center (200 SE Oak St, Minneapolis, MN 55455)
Parking:         University Avenue Ramp, 1926 University Ave. SE, Minneapolis 55455
Cost:                Free (RSVP is recommended)

Top photo: Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., image credit: Vatican Observatory

Author: The Central Minnesota Catholic

The Central Minnesota Catholic is the magazine for the Diocese of St. Cloud.

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