The Vatican is hosting another conference on the intersection of faith and science, this time on the scientific, philosophical and theological intersections of the Big Bang and the end of the universe. This conference follows up on the conference last year celebrating Teilhard de Chardin as part of the Year of Faith and the conference earlier this year on Evolution and the Emergence of the Human Being. It is unfortunate that the Vatican has not done a better job of promoting these conferences or that it not been more widely publicized in the United States. While these conferences are academic in nature, the topics are great examples of the work the Vatican and the Catholic Church is doing to use science, philosophy and theology to better understand the universe and what it means to be human. Set forth below is information on the latest conference.
The Pontifical Gregorian University in collaboration with the Vatican Observatory is to hold a two-day research conference on the origins of the universe on November 11, 2013 and another one on the end of it on March 31, 2014. The theme will be discussed from scientific, philosophical and theological perspectives.
In a recent interview, Fr. Louis Caruana, S.J., a professor of Philosophy of Science and Nature at the Gregorian University, underlined the significance of the interdisciplinary approach chosen. “Sometimes we have scientists speaking in a philosophical or theological way and other times we have philosophers talking about science but ideally we would have specialists speaking about their own disciplines,” the Maltese Jesuit told religious news and information portal Aleteia.org. Hence there will be experts from all these fields speaking about the origins and end of the universe at the conference.
Speakers at next Monday’s meeting include the Jesuit researcher Gabriele Gionti, from the Vatican Observatory, who will talk about the Big Bang, its historical evolution and some other ideas linked to the theories of quantum gravity; Professor Ľuboš Rojka from the Faculty of Philosophy at the Gregorian University, who will speak about the origins of the universe and the Kalãm Cosmological Argument; and Professor Michelina Tenace, Director of the Department of Fundamental Theology at the Gregorian will talk about creator and creation and the theological meaning of creatio ex nihilo today.
“The relationship between faith and science is to be understood as a dialogue between the fathers of culture. Dialogue is always preferable to indifference,” Fr. Caruana said. “This dialogue has always existed throughout history in one form or another. Over the past ten years this has received a great deal of attention, particularly thanks to John Paul II’s pontificate and his encyclical “Fides et Ratio”. There is still a lot left to do, also because science is constantly advancing.”