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Vatican Observatory, Science, & ETs

Date Sunday - December 21, 2014
Host George Knapp
Guests Brother Guy ConsolmagnoFather Paul Mueller

Brother Guy Consolmagno and Father Paul Mueller scientists at the Vatican Observatory, the official astronomical research institute of the Catholic Church, joined George Knapp to explore a variety of questions at the crossroads of faith and reason. Consolmagno is stationed at the Vatican's astronomical facility in Tuscon, Arizona, while Mueller is currently near Rome, at the Pope's summer vacation home, where there are four older telescope domes. The two help keep the Church informed about new scientific findings, and are free to pursue their own astronomical interests.

In terms of reconciling science with accounts from the Bible, they suggested that these sources are not necessarily in conflict, but just different ways of looking at things. Comparing the Big Bang theory with the Genesis account of creation, Genesis "is telling us about the creation of the universe; it's answering the question in a different way than the scientist is answering. The shorthand might be-- my religion tells me who made the universe; my science tells me how he did it," explained Consolmagno. As far as the science will go, "it can never tell you why the universe was made-- it can only tell you how what we have now came from whatever was before," Mueller added.

'Any entity no matter how many tentacles it has, has a soul,' Consolmagno has said. But in regards to the question of whether an ET should be baptized, there are so many contingencies regarding the ET-- can it communicate with us? Does it have a relationship with God?, that it becomes more of an interesting issue to contemplate rather than a practical concern, Consolmagno commented. The two also spoke about the Star of Bethlehem-- there's about a 10-year window as to when the event might have occurred, with a number of celestial events happening during that time, so it's hard to know what specifically Matthew was referencing in the Gospels, said Consolmagno. Mueller noted that the Magi, with their quest to follow celestial phenomena, serve as an inspiration to Jesuit scientists.

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