Intersection of Faith and Science: Vatican Astronomer Guy Consolmagno, S.J. (More Interviews)

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. at the intersection of faith and science

Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. at the intersection of faith and science

One of my favorite speakers is Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J. Consolmagno is an M.I.T. graduate and research astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican Observatory. Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 – present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007). He has also authored or coauthored five astronomy books. His full biography is set forth below. Due to his work as a world-class astronomer and a Jesuit, Consolmagno is directly positioned at the intersection of faith and science.

This week, I had the pleasure of listening to a recent podcast interview on the outstanding site Catholic Lab. For those who are not familiar with that site, I highly recommend it as the host, Ian Maxfield, does a great job of resources, including podcasts, books, downloads, etc. that show the long and largely harmonious history of faith and science. His interview with Brother Consolmagno is another treat and I highly recommend it.

For good measure, set forth below is a Brother Consolmagno’s 2013 TEDx presentation which is outstanding.

Here is a link to other interviews with Brother Consolmagno. Here is Brother Consolmagno’s full biography from the Vatican Observatory:

Br. Guy Consolmagno SJ was born in 1952 in Detroit, Michigan. He obtained his Bachelor of Science in 1974 and Master of Science in 1975 in Earth and Planetary Sciences from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and his PhD in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona in 1978. From 1978-80 he was a postdoctoral fellow and lecturer at the Harvard College Observatory, and from 1980-1983 continued as postdoc and lecturer at MIT.

In 1983 he left MIT to join the US Peace Corps, where he served for two years in Kenya teaching physics and astronomy. Upon his return to the US in 1985 he became an assistant professor of physics at Lafayette College, in Easton, Pennsylvania, where he taught until his entry into the Jesuit order in 1989. He took vows as a Jesuit brother in 1991, and studied philosophy and theology at Loyola University Chicago, and physics at the University of Chicago before his assignment to the Vatican Observatory in 1993.

In spring 2000 he held the MacLean Chair for Visiting Jesuit Scholars at St. Joseph’s University, Philadelphia, and in 2006-2007 held the Loyola Chair at Fordham University, New York. He has also been a visiting scientist at the Goddard Space Flight Center and a visiting professor at Loyola College, Baltimore, and Loyola University, Chicago.

Br. Consolmagno has served on the governing boards of the Meteoritical Society; the International Astronomical Union’s (IAU) Division III, Planetary Systems Science (secretary, 2000 – present) and Commission 16, Moons and Planets (president, 2003-2006); and the American Astronomical Society Division for Planetary Sciences (chair, 2006-2007).

He has coauthored five astronomy books: “Turn Left at Orion” (with Dan M. Davis; Cambridge University Press, 1989); “Worlds Apart” (with Martha W. Schaefer; Prentice Hall, 1993); “The Way to the Dwelling of Light” (U of Notre Dame Press, 1998); “Brother Astronomer” (McGraw Hill, 2000); and “God’s Mechanics” (Jossey-Bass, 2007). He also edited “The Heavens Proclaim” (Vatican Observatory Publications, 2009).

Br. Consolmagno is curator of the Vatican meteorite collection in Castel Gandolfo, one of the largest in the world. His research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids, and the origin and evolution of small bodies in the solar system. In 1996, he spent six weeks collecting meteorites with an NSF-sponsored team on the blue ice of Antarctica, and in 2000 he was honored by the IAU for his contributions to the study of meteorites and asteroids with the naming of asteroid 4597 Consolmagno.

 

About William Ockham

I am a father of two with eclectic interests in theology, philosophy and sports. I chose the pseudonym William Ockham in honor of his contributions to philosophy, specifically Occam's Razor, and its contributions to modern scientific theory. My blog (www.teilhard.com) explores Ignatian Spirituality and the intersection of faith, science and reason through the life and writings of Pierre Teilhard de Chardin (pictured above).
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14 Responses to Intersection of Faith and Science: Vatican Astronomer Guy Consolmagno, S.J. (More Interviews)

  1. I know that it is the subject matter and as well as the academic and intellectual pursuits of this scientist turned priest that draws your interest William…me on the other hand…I marvel at his sheer capacity for knowledge, his desire to in turn share that via the Peace Corps, eventually taking up the cloth as it were… which grabs my attention—I am currently reading a biography on Maximilian Kolbe. He excelled with his academic studies, particularly math and science. It was pretty much assumed that he would pursue an intellectual career of an engineer—but rather he was drawn to serve God via the priesthood–that of a poor Franciscan. As the art teacher—humanities has been my background, not so much the math and science route–I admire those who excel in such areas and the fact that they in turn head towards a vocation of servitude often living simply among the poorest of the poor, bringing comfort as well as the word of God—I just always wonder about how and when they knew the route…..Thank you for sharing and forgive my verbal ponderings— blessing this Wednesday–julie

    • Hi Julie:

      Well said. I am definitely drawn to the subject matter but I am also drawn to the human person of Guy Consolmagno. He is a brilliant scientist and excellent communicator. He did not have to give up his scientific pursuits but clearly he has a deep relationship with Christ that is his primary motivation. Maximilian Kolbe is another great example, although I am not as familiar with him.

      I especially admire those people, religious and lay, who have skills that I lack. For example, I really admire and appreciate your blog and your beautiful pictures and artwork. I completely lack those talents, which is why I can appreciate those who have those skills. My wife has an artistic talent also, especially with flower gardens (our yard is beautiful, no thanks to me :-).

      Have a great week!

      Peace,
      W. Ockham

  2. just make certain she keeps a keen eye out for moles 🙂

    • The mole pictures kind of “freak me out” as my kids would say. I have a minor phobia of rodents so if we spot one near the house I turn into the Bill Murray character from Caddyshack 🙂

      • Don’t you worry, it pretty much freaked me out as well, but I just had to share as that’s what “the crumbs” are all about—sharing—and speaking of which—when you do find yourself between reads as it were, I do recommend “Forget Not Love” The Passion of Maximilian Kolbe by Andre Frossard. By the looks of the cover, it may be perceived, albeit falsely, that it is a simplistic look– something perhaps geared towards younger readers. It is anything but as the french author, Andre Froassard gives a wonderful account —working a bit backwards from the canonization by Pope John Paul II in 1982 to Kolbe’s childhood in the early 20th century in a divided and occupied Poland to his studies in Rome, to his missionary adventures, to his final days in Auschwitz —I was fortunate to visit last fall, of all things and in all places, the Polish Museum in Rapperswill, Switzerland which had a powerful tribute to this most benevolent polish Franciscan and eventual martyr…..I wrote a post about that visit—I seem to cover the solemn stories as well as the dead mole stories…I cover all bases I suppose, as it keeps life most interesting 🙂
        happy reading my friend!!

      • Julie, thank you very much for the recommendation on “Forget Not Love”. It is now on my list! Need something to get the mole image out of my head 🙂

  3. Lynda says:

    My academic studies have also concentrated on the humanities; however, I really enjoy stretching my mind and moving outside my comfort zone which is the reason I appreciate your blog so much. The video was outstanding and, as you write, Bother Consolmagno is an amazing speaker. He kept my attention to the very end where he asserted that scientists and theologians both worship the God of truth. What a powerful closing! Lots to think about. Thank you.

    • Lynda, thank you for your kind words. I am not a scientist either, but I enjoy it. It also suits my Briggs-Myers personality type (INTJ). My background is in law, finance and humanities (political science, history and economics). I am interested in science but once you get the heavier Math, that is where my comfort zone gets a big workout 🙂

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  6. Elana says:

    I couldn’t resist commenting. Veryy well written!

  7. Pingback: Jesuit Guy Consolmagno Wins Carl Sagan Medal from the American Astronomical Society | Teilhard de Chardin

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