Science & Theology Lecture

Views:127|Rating:nan|View Time:1:14:Minutes|Likes:0|Dislikes:0
Presented by Fr. Richard D’Souza, SJ University of Michigan/Vatican Observatory

Quad 264
Saint John’s University

February 6th, 2019

good evening it's great to have you here for this event and we're pleased to invite to Collegeville father Richard de Souza who he's such a youngster when I look at he was born in 1978 and I think will go it's just a couple years ago so he's he's clearly had made his mark in terms of in India he began with his bachelor's degree at st. Xavier's College and he earned that in 2002 but then went on to Heidelberg in Germany for master's in 2005 and then went back to India to earn a theology degree in which he did what I find a very interesting project from a theological perspective is that he had an adult sort of education try and get people to think theologically which was sort of a missing piece within within their community comes from Goa which is on the my geography would say southwest edge of India and as you'd recognize by the name it is it has sort of a European spin to it but that was a Portuguese colony until 1961 I believe right okay so it's a then he joined the Vatican Observatory in in 2016 and since that time he's been the last two and a half years he's been doing research and working at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor so we're delighted to have you here with us and to help us to explore the question of two very important sources of authority within most of our lives that how does the sort of Magisterium of the church fit together with the Magisterium of the scientific world and i will let him go wherever he wants to go with this his topic is toward a Christian approach to the Natural Sciences integrating our faith and the sciences father Richard thank you so much for the invitation to college but it's a great opportunity to come to this great place I've heard so much of it from publicity from the classes so it's great to be I want to share with you something of my journey today in terms of the sciences but also my faith journey but I'm gonna pose it in terms of a question which I think would appeal to all of you especially if you struggle in our modern world today in trying to reconciling that in a world of faiths and in a world of trying to find meaning with this outer secular world which we have which is filled with the sciences and this is a problem many people have including sometimes religious prefers who are actually involved in the sciences the question comes is all of us have have moments of faith and inner meaning so this is an existential situation for all human being some of us belong to a religious tradition actively pretty practice the faiths but all of us cannot deny that we have had moments of deep inner search in the meaning existential moments when we perhaps listen to a piece of music and Wonder or look at the scenery and wondered or perhaps confronted with a life tragedy or wander and there are moments when we are shaking out of our existence and start thinking about bigger questions but in the world which we live today it becomes very difficult for us to move seamlessly between the world of faith and the world of the sciences and it becomes very difficult for us to talk in our professional lives about you know lives of faith and I know later scientists all of us have this problem as a Jesuit priest I often visit universities I don't go in a Roman collar I go as a normal Mufti you know and I'm there preaching preaching teaching in my jeans and t-shirt telling them about my scientific research and oftentimes they don't really know that I have this other life as a priest it becomes very difficult to to integrate faith and science seamlessly and I think the difficulty which I face is faced by all of us is that we have our we have we believe in boats they are both essential for our being we know them but it becomes very difficult to move seamlessly from one for my inner life of faith to an outer secular life I think all of us end up with a very compartmentalized view of reality our professional lives and then our inner faith lies it may not just be the sciences but it can be whatever profession we may be doing now as an astronomer I am often asked a question whether I have any deeper insight about God by looking through a telescope and quite often people would ask me have you ever seen God by looking through a telescope I have to admit that I have not seen God and through the telescope neither by much of my active scientific research which I'm engaged in pretty much the whole of the week I do I'd rather have any particular new insight into the nature of God or theology that's a sparing not my field but what I do have is a lot of experience in research and in the sciences and I live out my life of faith and based on this experience that I find that I find there is no conflict in me internally between my life of faith and my life of science in fact many times I would often say that my faith helped me to do good science and my science often helps me to go deeper into my faith one can move seamlessly at times one has to be in the flow as it were in those moments but I would like to then share from this experience and try to answer this question how can we seamlessly connect these two words and I don't want to take a very theological or philosophical approach I want to take an approach which can start from the trenches as a rich common people can understand and I think first of all ways by examining this we can start by examining why we have this apparent rift I think the primary reason we had this apparent rift between the sciences and religion is because we are operating under a paradigm a dominant paradigm which suggests to us consciously and unconsciously that science and faith cannot go hand in hand this is what the world tells us and this paradigm gets reinforced by the stories viii and society tell each other in turn so he tells us the story and repeats his stories over again many of these stories revolve around familiar stories as we have heard from the past and perhaps the most familiar story which gets repeated again and again is Galileo yes the 16th century story of Galileo and the church and by telling and retelling the story again and again it actually gets solidified in – a paradigm into our lives and this story reinforces the idea that the church clashed with Galileo and therefore they cannot go hand in hand there can be no room for faith in an objective scientific universe now it's very difficult to change a dominant paradigm or a dominant narrative if history has taught us anything bad games often are there to stay they don't change very often they can and do change at times in terms of revolution in Thomas Kuhn would say occasionally in every couple of few hundred years there is a revolution and bad AIIMS change but it's very difficult to change the dominant paradigm but I need you to take a step back when the realization that to understand the power of paradigms and narratives in our lives it's all depends upon the stories we tell ourselves and this in turn affects us how we interact with the world and how it influences our interactions basically in our personal relations but also in a say in the way faith and science can interact in the poor stories are powerful in our own faith tradition we often tell stories we tell stories we'd narrate them in order to create meaning as we interact with the world stories help us to navigate the world therefore our lives are basically built up on narratives and stories and the stories we tell and tell each other influence the way we relate to each other to ourselves and perhaps even to God so I think we can start by examining first of all the dominant story of Galileo just for a start really can't go into the details well there's many things which can be said about it and it is really an active period of research exactly why the church condemned Galileo we can also say that many parts of that story really don't add up to a message it suggests that faith and science cannot go hand in hand for instance Galileo never intended at the end of his life to completely disrupt himself from the church in fact he never meant to show that science and religion couldn't go hand in hand he remained a good Catholic till his very end although under house arrest his two daughters when ants and they took care of him quite well even during his house arrest to his death and then there was this interesting question about the interpretation of Scripture at the time of the Reformation when the church was being challenged from all corners and the question of how does it mean to interpret Scripture it was really a very difficult time for the church but perhaps the most interesting insight we can get is from the fact that the story of Galileo started being read was are getting retold only much later around the 19th century nobody's talked about Galileo from the 16th to the 19th century there's only much lately in the 19th and 20th century with the rise of modernity and there was much political ambition and anti-clericalism at that time that society goes back to a story two centuries ago and starts telling the story again and retelling the story in order to reinforce a paradigm where science and religion cannot coexist together I think we can get a lot of insight on the way the story has been told and how it influences our lives and finally there is ample of evidence that science and religion can go hand in hand there are headlines of many scientists as really inspiring and an example which I would like to give to you today is not of a Jesuit but of father George Lemaitre a Belgian priest who is in some ways the origin discoverer of the Big Bang father limited lived around 19 between 1910 and 1950 everybody does most of his work and he took Einstein's equations of our general relativity and applied them to the universe and he realized that in applying that universe that the universe is expanding and if the universe was continuously expanding then it must have originated from a point single point and he did not call it the Big Bang but in an essence that is the Big Bang I could say if ever there was a very Catholic idea it's the Big Bang there are so many examples like this so I can relate to you and the history of science is actually the history of many religious people and clerics doing really good and great science we never tell these stories because that does not fit into the dominant paradigm but these stories do exist so the Jesuit priests an astronomer I often I do not experience exponentially a conflict between my faith and my science and I think I'm not alone in this I have a number of fellow scientists who I work with who are full believers will activate believers whether it be be Christians Muslims Baha'i or even Hindus they really believe in their faiths and in a sense get this fax surprise most people when you came to tell them that science and religion can go hand in hand and an majority and a majority but at least a good fraction of scientists can be actually active believers and actually practicing their faiths perhaps people are ignorant of the examples in history of religious people actually doing science or the gun or they operate under this dominant paradigm this dominant narrative which blinds them to any form of integration I sort of think that most of the general public is really not educated in the critical philosophically ditions which probably learn here at st. John's and other place are the seminaries and other liberal arts institutions that and they don't have this critical thinking to really examine their own paradigms their own narratives under which they're up they operate under but even then even if people really are educated in sort of an analytical philosophy I often find that even for these people sometimes it's very difficult to uproot these deep-seated paradigms which are there in each of them these narratives they constantly operate under these narratives they made intellectually know that science and religion can go hand-in-hand but exponentially deep down in this so then the way they operate in life they still operate under the old paradigms I am convinced that the only way to change the dominant narrative is with another one a more successful narrative of how science and religion can go hand in hand I have long sought for such a narrative such a story which could incorporate my sciences but also my faiths but I really was looking for a story which could explain to people and incorporate kind of like the the things I do every day in my research and in my sciences my experience not so much the knowledge I have gained but the experience I have gained in doing research or in in the sciences and after much searching I think I finally found such a narrative and it was always right under my nose it was always there but I think I finally found it and like to tell you then today to introduce to you this story this narrative I tried to retell the story in such a way that it could perhaps possibly be adorned in there for you it's the story from the Gospel of Matthew and it's the story of the Three Magi you don't know the story of the three wise men in search of a newborn king and who followed a study of wise men stargazers perhaps the first Catholic or Christian astronomers in a sense people of philosophy and science they were seekers after truth greater than themselves and they went through great efforts to leave their native towns perhaps in Persia to find it and in retelling the story I want to construct a narrative really that will upset the dominant paradigm which we have today but basically to communicate that science and religion can go hand in hand so let me start by first asking the question why I find the Magi interested in a star but take a deeper let's take a step back even further from this question have you ever wondered why ingrained in each of us is a deep sense of amazement and wonder whenever we look up at the night sky I've often done this experiment because I in my outreach you could take a kid in the Sahara Desert or a kid in a teenager in India or even a professor at the University of Michigan we considered ourselves so one of the top universities in this country and you should take them and make them watch through a telescope and look at some of the planets or Deneb you lay some of these glorious pictures from the Hubble Space Telescope and all of them is go wow this their faces will light up in amazement and they'll just go while it kind of be very childish for a brief moment and go WOW and I think if we would do the same today with wonderful weather outside and I would point a telescope out and make all of you look through it and some of these amazing features the night sky you too will go WOW that the question comes there is why is it that there is something in each of us which goes Wow when we look up at the night sky and I think the answer of for this lies really in a deeper understanding of the human person of you and for me I think the answer points out to the fact that we are all transcendental creatures deep within each one of us is a yearning to transcend our physical boundaries and to reach out for the infinite be constantly yearn to know more and more about not only ourselves and our physical surroundings but to go beyond and in a way this makes us in a Christian anthropology special and different among all the created creatures the best VI like to visualize this this is co-teaching from the book of Genesis as visualized this is this famous painting of Michelangelo of God and Adam on the Sistine Chapel all of us know this painting God reaching out and creating Adam that singler act I think there's another way to look at this painting and the other way is to look a business Adam reaching out beyond himself reaching out to the infinite to God to divine there is something deep within each of us which makes us go beyond ourselves and reach to the infinite to the divine this is this transcendental nature in each of us Michelangelo understood that very well as an artist and I think that's what he also tried to depict in that painting P are by no means rational beings we are transcendental beings we are beings looking for meaning in life yearning to reach the transcendent this is what makes us active in life to go forward in life to reach out and reach the beyond I like to say that all of our human activity is an expression of this search for the transcendent now philosophers and theologians will perhaps think of the transcendent as the ultimate divine but we can also think that all of human activities including engineering art poetry music are all expressions of this transcendental search of the human person in a sense we are all reaching out to the divine and these are kind of manifestations along the way of us reaching out to the infinite and in therefore in such a framework if the be are transcendental beings reaching out to the infinite and in in doing so we go through all these physical steps of going about in our professionalized and there can be no separation between our professional lives and our inner faith life and our professional eyes become an expression of this transcendental search in each of us so in a certain sense the three wise men the Magi looking for this star looking for the truth greater than themselves by answering a call to the transcendent and therefore I could say that the Three Magi are a deepest reflections of our very self they tell us how we are as human beings searching for the transcendent in a sense we are fellow Wanderers and fellow searchers with the Magi and the Magi are many ways our predecessors and they also show us how our professional lives the two things which we do out of passion I'm deeply connected and an outreach of our inner faith lives now can each of us there is this constant yearning and restless for the divine there is nothing more transcendental and yet more physical than the cosmos and the heavens there's a noorie that that's why it's no wonder that the cosmos always fascinates us because it's the most transcendental thing you can have which is also physical among the science is the study of astronomy has often always been called the queen of the sciences it has often been the first scientific department which has kind of been established in the universities in fact in the University of Michigan where I work the first science department was the Department of astronomy and the first time actually the laws of physics were applied to the real world was to explain the motion of the planets the magic who were therefore in the search of this in search of that star symbolized this fascination of humanity with astronomy down the ages I'll take you home give you an example from a well history we have so many examples of civilizations studying the heavens in the Western world you know that the church has long supported astronomy right from the 16th century they have active clerics doing research in astronomy partly because of fixing the date of Easter but also just because in our Christian perspective which we have imported from the Greeks the heavens was the most perfect world and everything below was this a merely a reflection of that heavenly perfection and the Vatican continues to support research and astronomy in the form of the Vatican Observatory of which I am a member about about 14 clerics Jesuits and diocese and priests who study astronomy and just do research in astronomy but if you can think of all had the civilizations the Indians the Chinese the Mayans the ancient Greeks all made remarkable observations of the night sky each in their own way there was a constant fascination for the heavens down history so we have been constantly fascinated with astronomy and the only way to explain this and also a initial wonder then we look at the night sky is to realize how transcendental astronomy is in terms of being so much out there an expression of our transcendental search but also being that's something the most physical thing you can you can utterly reach I'd like to go back to the story of the Magi that's what I the story I'd like to tell the question I like to ask you is then poses why did the Magi set out on a search why did they set out on a search and what can this tell us about ourselves so why did they set out from their search and why did they leave the comfort of their homes I think the answer for this is in the search for meaning one of the most fundamental searches we have as human beings is the search for meaning so we're not just only rational animals and we're often far from rational but we are really meaning seeking animals we constantly navigate the world through the meaning we give to it and we constantly yearn for more and more meaning perhaps the ideas which go back to Viktor Frankl is that we are meaning seeking animals without meaning we don't move forward and you see the most extreme example of this when people actually lose meaning they stop moving forward and often it ends in extreme forms of losing hope and meaning in suicide but taking a cue let's take a step back and take a cue from philosophy we find that meaning when you look for meaning meaning can never really be found in the dimness system perhaps here I'm using a bit of Wittgenstein here meaning can only be found externally to a system and therefore it's often important to realize that we search for meaning that we really cannot find meaning in physical objects meaning is often found beyond the physical drinking Stein best explained this by by in nature of his games like if you think of a board game you're playing you can play the board game the board game has a couple of rules and you keep on playing these games but why are you playing the game you can only use there is meaning in playing the game only if there is a price and the price is only external to the system in a sense so like a pointer to the fact that only something which is truly transcendental can give us meaning in life it's only something which encompasses a transcendental element gives us meaning so in a certain sense if the sciences are interested in the physical world then sciences alone cannot really give us meaning in life only something which is transcendental may be a search for the divine or something which gives us makes us move beyond ourselves it is that which gives us meaning and by corollary to this system therefore any system imports its values from outside the system like to say that science does not have an intrinsic set of values by itself it needs to import its values from outside so its core values are often imported from the dormant dominant ideology of its time be it modernity or anything else which it fancies at that particular moment but we look for meaning and that's what makes us go out in search why do we set out in search for meaning and what do we hope to find and I actually think that is also reflects to us a reflect and we can reflect on this and I understand that is something deep within the human person which makes us Restless with restlessness with each one deeps finds deep within each of us and in some way we are very unconsciously aware that we are living in a sort of an exile we live our lives in sort of a riddle partially separated from God from each other and times even from ourselves we experience love we experience community peace but never in this fullness and we yearn for that fullness life is like a riddle for us it's a mystery and God who is omnipresent is often very distant and when we look at the heavens and study the cosmos in a certain sense it fulfills us it awakens something with us maybe for at least a brief moment I like to say that by looking at the heavens it temporally reminds us it temporarily takes us out of Exile and we get a sense of completeness the heavens of the old in the old philosophy was a perfection right it's it is the most perfect world since it takes us out of this exile of this existential exile video and as my the director of the Vatican Observatory brother guy Consolmagno he puts his quite closely he says he looks at the heavens and he studies astronomy it reminds him that there is something more important than what is there for lunch today in a sense because it's something beyond the immediate yet it fills them with something a transcendental meaning to go on in life and to work and not to think about immediate concerns which are close by to us but even then even astronomy which is the perhaps the most transcendental of all the physical sciences can only temporarily put us out of exile and it can only temporally put us out of exile because it is not really fully the transcendent only the fully the transcendental the fully the divine can put us out of that exile and give us full meaning and this also perhaps explains to us why we go on in life moving from project to project because each time we start a new project it gives us meaning it's temporarily puts us gives us something to do we achieve that project the meaning kind of goes away start off with a new project that gives us new me and we move from project to project to project and it's gonna fit in our own experience that we really are meaning seeking animals and it's only the totally transcendental which can give us meaning why did the Magi so we saw why did the Magi set out on the journey what did they take along with them the story tells us that they took three gifts gold frankincense and myrrh but I like to pose the question what did the Magi actually hope to find at the end of their journey if they knew what they were looking for then they would know what to take along so they knew that they were gonna find a child who was going to die they would take gold frankincense and myrrh then we can reflect about the question why what what was the what elements did they need to be successful in their journey and in a similar question I like to ask the question what do we need to be successful in our respective journeys what what does a scientist need to be successful in his or her search I like to answer this question that perhaps what is needed to be successful is not gold frankincense and myrrh we shouldn't be carrying that around but something else and I like to pose this as we need faith hope and love and I'm going to spend the next few moments working this out why I think we need faith hope and love in our journeys and why people with faith hope and love really make good scientists let me start off with faith rescued us perhaps the easiest to explain so much of science is actually based on faith at a fundamental level I have faith that the world was created by a God who was let me start with this this way but in my scientific theories I need to have faith faith basically that that what I am researching yeah depends upon some assumptions I need to make and I cannot reasonably prove everything so I have to make some reasonable assumptions so I need to have faith in my assumptions I need to have faith in the research my predecessors have done I just cannot go and repeat everything they do and empirically test everything they did I need to have faith at some points what they did was right sometimes I may evaluate their research and question it I don't even if I have a reasonable doubt so there is some sort of a reasonable faith in Sciences but I don't take into a more more fundamental level or why we often need it I only study the universe and I only study the physical world if I know that it is governed by fixed physical laws I can imagine if I lived in a world where I thought that the laws of physics constantly changed you know constantly change that if I would study it today and it's different tomorrow what would be the purpose of studying the laws of physics if they were different today and tomorrow and this comes back to an assumption we make in theological approaches maybe think that the world was created good by God and that he was not capricious and he made the world to follow certain laws and you see this most clearly in the civilizations which produced the sciences all great ancient civilizations observed nature but very few of them came up with the sciences the physical sciences in the Western world that we are influenced by the Hebrew god of how he created the world and he created the world good and worthy to be studied and Greek rational thought science flourished in other civilizations where you often the God was capricious and changed his mind every day perhaps in the Greeks in front of the Greeks and in the Chinese the Indians the ions they never actually developed a full scientific approach they observed the heavens but they actually never developed a science why would you if the laws changed every day for good science to occur and for civilization being able to understand the law and to study the laws of nature the first have to assume that the laws of nature will not change and that goes back to an assumption in the Hebrew Greek world that God made the world good worthy to be studied and he doesn't change his mind every day in some sense we need faith to do the science we do at first of the level of assumptions at the level of Sciences breehn at a much more basic level let me move on to hope much of science is driven by hope hope that we will be better able to understand what we do not understand today hope that the and that our study of the sciences will improve the quality of our life if any of you are working actively in the sciences and have to write grants like I do and you know apply to NSF or various funding agencies I have very reasonable hope and come confident that my scientific research will succeed all scientists can relate with the idea of hope this is the reason why I pursue a certain aspect of scientific research and not the other one because I'm pursuing one idea one hypothesis with the hope that this will go through it make each a dead end but I have a reasonable hope that it is that that works through so faith and hope are kind of easy to understand now trying the most ridiculous of them all why do we need love how does love fit in all I like to point it this way the more I have the more I do science the more I realized that science is really a conversation we have about the universe science is not really when you study the sciences and undergraduate level you basically are given a text book filled with facts you know you're given a facts and these facts are taught to you and this is the sciences but this is not how the science is developed the science often it is a conversation about these facts between number of scientists one would propose something about the nature of the moon and how it's going around the earth the other would dispute it they will be further no questioning and this conversation would go back and forth back and forth but the rational thought but slowly you're converging through the truths science is really about good conversation some of the best research topics you come up with is actually by conversing with fellow scientists in a that's a problem how do we solve it you know it goes back and forth you can never do good science by sitting in your room and in your cell isolated from the world you need to publish you need to go to conferences you need to converse and that's how good science happens today we're becoming increasingly aware that for good science to happen you need to ensure that the conversation happens and a conversation can only happen if you have a good community and you allow a diversity of voices that you allow people who do not normally talk come up with strange new ideas the people who are normally not hurt can also say their voice and also propose things I often I work with a particular professor the University of Michigan and we have been rather successful together but actually we had a really bad fit for each other could we think alike so much so we often like an echo chamber in a sense of I would propose one idea and he would propose we are patting each other on the back and you know become a writer of this paper and then we go for a conference and then lo and behold it's all wrong but this is how science is that science happens when people start thinking alike good science happens when there is a diversity of opinions now you can only enable that diversity of opinions if you have a loving relationship where you can allow those voices to be heard the some of the what we call as principal investigators pis of big groups in medical research of the University of Michigan would often tell me that did their main job is only to direct the research but to allow a very amicable atmosphere within the lab that people can cooperate with each other and talk to each other and work with each other good loving atmospheres contributes to good sciences I think the sciences need faith hope and love the analogical to what we consider faith hope and love in religious fears but in many ways faith hope and love ensure good science therefore I like to think that the biggest gifts the Three Magi were carrying we're not their gold frankincense and myrrh but their faith hope and love but let me return back to the story of the magic I think there is a hidden gem at the end of the story which helps us in trying to understand how science is done and in the real gem in the story is that after they looked for the star and they went to search for beyond it they ultimately came to the Child Jesus and not just any child a divine child the son of God and in a ways it is here that they had the Epiphany they were looking for something they were really looking for something but did they really expect to find the child Jesus in such a poor de Lapidus structure out there shivering in the cold these peasants as parents after all they came with gold frankincense and myrrh they were rich people and they not at the gates of Herod and I per se to reflect on this and this confrontation with what they were hoping to find and what they actually found and I will be what I really love to be there and look at their faces at that moment I say where they consoled where they astonished where they satisfied God showed themselves to hit them in a completely different from from what I think they were expecting as men of philosophy and men who were searching for greater things and reflecting on this I often realize how often in my own research I find that the reality that the reality I am searching for at the end of my search is completely different from my expectations when I start off an experiment I find that the universe is constantly surprising me it's just not how I expect it to be and not how my models suggest that they should it should be in fact in many ways we try to force the universe to behave to our models and it just doesn't fit and doesn't work and then you have confronted with that and then finally you write a nice paper about it and that becomes a big discovery I learned this hardest of lessons actually in my PhD that I was doing in Germany at that time at the end of my PhD when I came to the University of Michigan I realized that one third of my PhD was completely wrong completely one third of it was wrong and the reason why it was wrong was basically we have a short shorter PhD in Germany three and a half years and my PhD supervisor told me we are very you know success driven there was a success driven you to get this result to graduate and I would like I need to get this result to graduate so I was searching for that result and tried my best to get that result and even though the universe was not fitting and the galaxy which I was researching did not fit the models I mean it fit and I didn't I mean really thought made I convinced the supervisors I convinced the committee we almost published the paper and something when I came now to the University of Michigan now hearing a diverse opinions completely different opinion from now my other research guiding you like really does that work have you realized no it did not the reason why I went wrong was because I forced my models onto reality how much of good science is actually goes about buying oh that's strange let me look at it again the universe doesn't fit our models and this is how science progresses and you confront what you expect to find with reality God appeared to the Magi as the total other and they said yes and I think good scientists need to be open that reality never fits their models and that's when they learn like to end by suggesting then that there are two spiritual values which you which one needs to be good in science and I think this is broader in the scientists but broader in all our lives and kind of shows us how I think the Magi encompass these two values I like to call them a poverty of heart and a chastity of heart and I could say to explain this to you what do I mean by this by poverty I heart I mean that the attitude which is allows us to kind of detach ourselves from our own experience and this to the universe to what it's trying to tell us the story it's trying to tell us if our minds are filled with our own ideas and how things should fit and the laws of physics and it should work in this descendants s way we're really not going to learn anything about you and science will not make any progress and this is good research happens when you have a certain poverty of mind and heart when you allow to empty yourself of your own ideas listen to other people and even listen to the data which you are researching but I also believe we need a certain chastity of heart now when we commonly refers to chastity as something specific to sex it's actually much more general and Christian charity centers and how he actually deals with nature with others and with God to be chases to be in the Christian perspective to be fully respectful of the other person to be fully respective of nature and to be fully respectful of God to be chaste means to have patience and to give respect of the other person not to hurry things now forgive me for anthropomorphizing the world and the universe but allow me to do this for a brief moment think of the universe as a physical person and you are trying to understand this physical person you're waiting for this person to reveal his or her gifts to you his or her secrets and all you can do is be patient wait and listen you cannot rush the process so much of I find that I'm I've went wrong in my PhD was because I rushed the process there was a certain lack of chastity there and so much of contemporary scientists I find assumption the pressure to publish or to perish the race tour is an exciting new discovery not willing to wait and ask the question hey what is my data and what is the universe telling me about I really feel that a person can be a good scientist if he or she has a certain poverty and chastity of heart and I suddenly the Magi encompass these two great values in spite of all their learning they want to learn about the star they were willing to come down and listen to the child even bow down and pay him homage and they traveled that long journey perhaps in silence and doubt wondering whether their journey would be successful or not and at times I'm sure they were under doubt to give up and go home or maybe even find some something which looked like what they wanted to find and take it home and say hey I found it but they perceived in their journey and ultimately they found the child it may appear startling to all of you how I have incorporated the journey of the Magi as a good representation of one scientific journey or you may be a pole that I have reduced everything to spiritual values but the more I talk to professional scientists and my colleagues about this the more they resonated this when I talk to them about quantum mechanics and consciousness they just don't know where to start right are talking them about faith hope and charity and about getting grants and rushing research they resonate with this and I do hope therefore that this framework this retelling of the story of the Magi can offer you a framework then to go and re-examine your own lives and to retell that story again and and so that it becomes a dominant narrative for each of you I've often told this story to a bunch of groups of people the best response I got was at the end of a end of the from from from two groups one was from a group of medical students at the University of Michigan and so one of them came up to me and says yeah but you can take this analogy a little bit further and you can see the Magi actually went back home and told the world about it that's kind of like publishing and you know outreach programs and yeah and I mean and the other group was the lawyers at the University of Michigan were telling me about research is that you know sometimes in research you are desperate and you go knocking at every door possible trying to incorporate all possible angles for your research so you try and talk to the biologist the chemist to get a confident they actually knocked at harrods door asking for an answer so people use this as analogies in whatever way one uses the navigated by telling and retelling this story I hope it can be a dominant narrative for a true integration of science and religion that we can move seamlessly between the two thank you I think we have us some time for questions and father Richard will feel them we talk about God as knowing all things I really I think that question is beyond my expertise or whether God can you all or not and whether he changes that is really a theological question meant for the experts I would not dare to answer I think God changes but that would be anthropomorphize in God in his own way just wondering if you think that there's an increasing amount of love necessary in astronomy just because it seems like maybe a hundreds of years ago just one or two astronomers could look up make observations of planets positions and stuff just with very simple equipment but nowadays it seems like the equipment necessary to make a lot of the observations require these you know satellites that take huge teams of people that put up there and then the data then gets shared yeah I think that the sciences are evolving the way among all fields whether it be biology chemistry physics astronomy the sciences are continuously evolving in terms of the diversity equation which each of them especially and they all at different stages some fields have less representation of women and less representation of underrepresented minorities and some fields are much more advanced it each other's own pace but I do agree with you that especially in this era when science is done not by just working in a laboratory by yourself but working on a broader feel that you have to work with each other and cooperate with each other that you actually this fosters more cooperation and more loving atmospheres I do agree with you in this in fact a a year ago I was interviewing a bunch of big what is called principal investigators our big research teams and they have been very successful in their field and we were trying to understand what makes a successful principal investigator from one who is who really can't manage his or her team and we realized and we are talking to them by interviewing them we realized they they often said if we have a bunch of people working on a project and if we have to pious persons who we need to choose for the team and we find one is a clever person really clever brilliant in his field is our field but really cannot work with each other and the other one is an average person a physicist I mean clever but no not really the top of the field but had these great social relations guess who we will choose the one with the better social relations because teams work better that way and because the nature of the science we do today involves so much of cooperation that yes there is this element of love in that way yes yes so in the Vatican Observatory we have those of us who are working there have complete freedom in choosing our projects what we do is that we have general 8 years of research which we have been assigned to each one of us and in general there is no overlap among people and that's the reason why there is no overlap is that to have multiple so each of us has his own circle of influence in in the diverse field so I work in galaxies the others works and stars a third one will work in planets the photon will work on meteorites or we try and have different fields and they're seen as the aye-aye overlapped with a thousand people they all laugh at us so a total outreach is much larger but we do bring our projects we have a choice of bringing the projects we want to work one so start with this I heard this hand first and then all right so there's there's claimed about astronomical phenomena you know worried there were ancient astronomers they do a lot the calculation do you authorize that story later as an astronomer do you think hey there was something that happened here it was way too presented can't literally be true I don't follow stars me you know there's something around that time in history that you think you know here's the astronomical phenomena forever interesting it was incorporated in the Gospel story that's my first question okay ask which I'll answer this question so yes I alig arised the story I yeah so basically there is there has been much research and much speculation about what could possibly be in an astronomical phenomenon at that time there's much research on this but there are many postulates it could be the best possible suggestion is a conjunction of planets which means a couple of planets coming together around the same time and overlapping to have a very bright stuff it explains part of the story it doesn't explain everything but as in the way as a person who who understands how to read scripture that is not the point of the story and I think concentrating on on an astronomical event 2,000 years ago takes away takes us away from the primary message of that story which was that the Three Magi found the child and and how they lead us to the child I personally do not find it fruitful to pursue the astronomical event we get many questions in the Vatican email box and all of them and 50 percent of them was what is the Star of Bethlehem and we rarely answer that question but let me put this straight out and this is how I think about it yes your second you mentioned others this paradigm of antagonism between science and religion meant we shouldn't really buy into a media we should replace it with a different paradigm you you give the example of Galileo a store ugly right something that gets told and retold and I'm wondering how does that fit into the new paradigm you wanna propose because it seems to me there's something irreducibly embarrassing about what happened with Galileo in relation to the church he proposes the heliocentric theory and he says he's threatened with torture but the victims of torture are laid out in front of them and he's forced to recant and so he go so right but not an accommodating election honestly a kind of eye rolling event I don't know how that story could be told with a kind of in a way that this service completely plumbing baracy to what happened with the church at that point I didn't I it isn't a very embarrassing moment in the judge there's no doubt but nobody's denying that in fact the Pope but too many years later apologized for John Paul the second actually apologized for this there are many other moments in the church which are equally embarrassing which we can talk about and including scientific ones people where at least Galileo was not burned on the stake somebody even burnt on the stake is to give you just to give you a flavor of things that happen what is interesting from all these perspectives is is how these stories are retold and when they were have been retold equally in the sciences there are equally more embarrassing stories for instance if you if we consider Newton one of the greatest of the physicists in the in the world who actually put a physical basis to Einstein's theory but Newton wanted the planets to be in order and he wanted them to be a stable system he couldn't get it to be in his system to be a stable system and he then said what keeps them together is God and he this story is never told about Newton it's too embarrassing because that you would embarrass the father of physics I like to point out is prom a reflection perspective stories are told often with with with a sullen agenda and if we realize that then we can hope to change the agenda we can admit we made big faults and nobody's hiding or denying this but I think we can set the agenda to be pretty immediately compelling and really founded on a sound theological anthropology what happens when that theological anthropology itself starts to come into difficulties with the perspective that maybe you know everything is just sort of it's just an accident that the atoms arranged in such a way that I desired the transcendent or whenever doctrines like original sin or the immediate creation of the soul by God come in are troubled with yeah yeah so so you may have noticed that in the approach I'm taking is not an ontological approach we're dealing with specific specific theories of in religion or in the sciences and we're trying to fit evolution and and some you know some theological truths I've taken a methodological approach because I think that brings most profit scientists can relate with that and people in the common street can relate with that it it takes much more work to actually bring scientific theories to you and often and I find that they are often non fruitful it's like often fitting a square into a circle in a peg this is my my basic skeptism about about approaches which try and fit oftentimes there are opposition's and sometimes visible opposition which may come the way I would like to I go about it says methodologically I would like to make both parties aware of the assumptions and the biases involved in it so in a sense what is it we believe in because we can really see that those are our beliefs and we have then often have don't have too much we have a rack illogical reasoning for it but it doesn't founded on facts but also to say that the same side is often often through in the sciences that there is some ideology in the values they adopt and that to be aware of that that comes only with deeper reflection so if you make people aware of their methodology and the assumptions then you can have some form of dialogue this is kind of the limited approach which works for me and for some with the example would be Christopher Hitchens yeah notable sight yes including Richard Dawkins yeah yeah yeah I like to point out the best way to do this is to explain to them that the what is the the death of religion paradigm put by Emile Durkheim and sociologists to often say oh yeah they predicted and at the end of the 19th century that religion would would would would no longer be there by this time and it will be complete declined and sushi all is just today look at the numbers and they find that religion is only increasing and and and and even not increasing its so vehemently changing world opinions and often dividing people then and etc the number of secular people are a dying breed of minority what this tells us is that in a certain sense people who take these extreme positions are not really listening to the data which is telling them a completely different story that people often need meaning in life that that meaning seeking or you know stilling what the transcendent is an integral part of of the human person and then by just by making everything physical and you know and everything so imminent that you are neglecting a very vital dimension of this human person I think the best scholar for this would be maybe Charles Taylor who has really taught these issues out and but often Christopher Hitchens and Richard Dawkins won't even read charts daily or what even modern sociologists would talk about because they are quite limited in their approaches but that's a paradigm that's a narrative you can change that narrative if you retell a story sufficiently neither loud enough and often enough to make that a paradigm and a successful story you know what are you telling me is this about paradigms and narratives if if I can keep them in a captive audience for one ah yes but often people don't have that patience to listen to me for an hour I mean you know I think we can India yeah well thank you very much father Richard for really giving us a very practical and significant way of moving forward on this dialogue between science and and theology or science and religion and thanks for making it to the far reaches of Minnesota here and in this kind of weather so thank you all for coming so hope we can do something like this again [Applause] you

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *