U.25 — CCC 1699-1729
In this podcast, Emily and Edmund discuss the challenges and strategies for presenting the Church’s teachings on morality effectively to a modern audience, and the significance of approaching catechesis and…Watch
Edmund welcomes the Director of the Vatican Observatory, Br. Guy Consolmagno. Together they dive into the mystery of the universe, science, and how all of God’s creation leads back to him.
(00:04) Edmundo welcomes us to this episode and introduces us to the episode’s guest Brother Guy Consolmagno who is the Director of the Vatican Observatory. He earned his Ph.D. from Georgetown University and holds the Carl Sagan Medal for Outstanding Communication by an Active Planetary Scientist to the General Public. Br. Guy explains why the Vatican has an observatory and the role it plays in modern astronomy.
(03:40) “How can science supplement our faith and not be against it?” Edmund asks Br. Guy to explain the relationship between faith and reason, and how science and theology intertwine. He goes on to tell us that reason comes from God. And also, that we can’t overlook the desire we have for good explanations and the pleasure we receive in them. Science is powerful because we enjoy it and because it leads us to a greater understanding of God.
(10:20) “Is Christianity just to fill in the gaps that science can’t explain?” Br. Guy addresses this question that Edmund poses to him. And goes on to explain that many scientists he encounters believe in God, and have some sort of faith system. Br. Guy shares that wearing the collar of a religious has opened the door for many fruitful conversations between him and his colleagues about faith since it clearly shows that Br. Guy is religious.
(15:21) The danger of looking to science for certainty: Br. Guy describes what he sees in our culture concerning how people search for absolute answers about the world around them, and ultimately religion does offer the answers we are all looking for. The conversation goes on to “The universe has to be logical or it wouldn’t work. But it doesn’t have to be beautiful. And yet it is.” The discussion revisits the idea of certainty and Br. Guy shares a quote from Anne Lamot:, “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.” He says, “If you had certainty, then you wouldn’t need faith.”
(20:35) Edmund asks Br. Guy about his popular books, the stories behind their names, and why he wrote them. Br. Guy shares the interpretations of his books and the purpose of his writings. They discuss the importance of bridges of faith, of finding ways to connect with those who are skeptical of the faith, and using science and what we know of the universe to proclaim God’s goodness.
Edmund: Hello everyone and welcome back to the Real+True Podcast. I’m your host, Edmund Mitchell. Today we have a very special interview with Brother Guy Consolmagno, who is the head of the Vatican Observatory, and we talk about science and faith and evangelization and catechesis. Really excited for today’s episode. Just as a reminder, the Real+True podcast, uh, is for us to explore the mission of unlocking the Catechism for the modern world. And we want to help equip you to use the Catechism for evangelization and catechesis. We’ll be interviewing experts as well as sharing a little bit of the behind the scenes of the process of helping people unlock the Catechism for the modern world. Just to give a little introduction to Brother Guy, who it was such a joy to talk to. Um, he is the director for the Vatican Observatory.
He also has a ton of honors in distinguishing, um, things as are part of his CV here. I’m just gonna go over some of them. So Brother Guy is the director of the Vatican Observatory. Uh, his research explores the connections between meteorites and asteroids and the origin evolution of small bodies in the solar system. He also has a PhD from Georgetown University and he has the Carl Sagan Metal for Outstanding Communication by an active planetary scientist to the general public. So he is very qualified to talk about, uh, how to talk about science to the public. He also has taught for many years, and this was just a fantastic interview. So without giving much more introduction, here is our interview with Brother Guy.
Brother Guy. Thank you so much for being here.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: It’s a delight to be here.
Edmund: You’re coming in from the Vatican, but you said you’re a little bit outside of the gardens.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: That’s right. We are actually in the Papal Summer Gardens, which is in the town of Castel Gandolfo and that’s oh, 20 odd kilometers south and east of Rome. This is where the popes used to come and spend their summers until Pope Francis and he turned it all into a museum so anyone could come and see the gardens now.
Edmund: That’s really cool. Well, Brother, I’m so excited to talk with you because I think a lot of people would be shocked to find out that the Vatican has an observatory. So maybe you could explain a little bit of the background of why the Vatican is involved in, in science in this way.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, you have to remember of course, that astronomy was one of the things that the medieval universities made you take before you could go on and do theology and philosophy. It was one of the four quadrivium courses, arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. By that, they meant how the universe is put together, probably what we would call cosmology today. And the Church, of course, was involved in timekeeping and you need to know astronomy for that. But the modern Vatican Observatory dates to 1891, and there were two things that were important to Pope Leo XIII when he established the observatory, the first, unspoken, was to show that the Vatican was an independent nation alongside other nations that had national observatories. So our first project was a big thing called the Carta Salwar . We took photographs of part of the sky and the Italians took photographs of a different part of the sky and sort of de facto said, “we’re as good as the Italians.” In 1929, the Italy and the Vatican finally made an agreement and they recognized each other as nations. That’s fine. The deeper issue is this: There are a lot of people starting at the end of the 19th century who wanted to claim that the Church was against science. And this was a place where you could see the Church literally and figuratively supporting science. I mean, the Pope Summer Home built in into the 1590s had two telescopes put on top of it.
Edmund: Yeah. That’s awesome. And, uh, I, yeah, I just think there’s so many people that would find that so surprising and I think heir only notion of the Church and and astronomy would maybe be GalileoC Some, some general sense that maybe the church wronged Galileo
Br. Guy Consolmagno: And everybody talks about Galileo cuz it’s the only example they’ve got.
Edmund: That’s a good response.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: You know, the funny thing is if you look into the history of Galileo, um, everything you know about the Galileo trial is probably wrong. The truth doesn’t make the Church look any better. They were wrong to go after Galileo, but they did it for secular reasons, for political reasons. It was not about his science. There were Jesuits doing astronomy at the same time who looked through his telescope and built their own telescopes and, you know, tremendously approved of what he saw. They would argue about how they interpreted it and the science was still up in the air in those days. The interesting thing though is why suddenly people got this idea that the Church was against science. You dig through the literature, you find out when did this idea become popular? When was it suddenly everybody believed, and it dates to the end of the 19th century. It doesn’t date to Galileo. Um, there were a couple of books in America that tried to show of how the Catholic Church was anti-science and they were doing this because they were anti-immigrant. They wanted to keep people like my great-grandfather out of America, you know, those people with long Italian names who are Catholics. And so they created this idea that, well, science is going to be the wave of the future. Science will solve all of our problems. The Church thinks that it’s there to solve problems, therefore we don’t need the Church anymore. And not only that, but the Church must be against science because the science must be a rival. All of that, of course, are assumptions that are wrong. Number one, you know, science can’t replace the Church. Technology is not the same thing as moral development. You know, Nazi Germany had the world’s most technologically advanced death camps. Obviously there’s no connection between being technologically advanced and being moral. The other thing that kind of, that fit into that at the end of the 19th century was the eugenics movement. And the Church was one of the few groups that said, no eugenics is wrong. It turns out eugenics is junk science, it doesn’t work. But even if it did work, it would be wrong. And the Church was the only group that would really stand up to it. So that, again, you want to keep those terrible people from Italy and Poland out of the country cuz they’re gonna ruin America. The implication being that the best people are the ones who look like you and me, blonde hair and blue eyes. Well neither of you us have that, but you know, presumably that’s what they were saying. And it was this kind of reaction against new, a reaction against different, the fear of the new, the fear of the different. And a lot of that was in the politics in America in the 19th century. In Europe, it was tied up in the anti clerical, political movements. So it really had everything to do with politics, nothing to do with science or philosophy.
Edmund: That’s a great answer. You know, we really true, we’re trying to help unlock the Catechism for the modern world and especially for people who are trying to evangelize or walk with others closer to Jesus. And I think one thing that’s interesting is that the Roman, the Catechism of the Council of Trent, the difference, uh, between the Catechism we have now and the catechism of the Council of Trent is this kind of introductory portion of the creed where it talks about the relationship between faith and reason. And it says that, “Man can come to know that there exists a reality, which is the first cause and final end of all things, a reality that everyone calls God.” And it talks about how, it doesn’t explicitly mention science, but it does give this kind of acknowledgement of reason, uh, in relation to faith. So I wonder if you could comment a little bit on that, on how our reason and science can help point to and, and supplement our faith and not be against it.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, the fact that reality exists, you know, that there is no answer to the famous Leibniz question, “Why is there something instead of nothing?” “Why is there space?” “Why is there time? Makes you at least have to ask, there is a question there that neither science nor any other of system can start with. You have to have the assumptions before you can do reason. You always have to have axioms before you can, you know, build your geology or geometry. More than that, reason is key to the Church. You think of the opening of the Gospel of John. “In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God.” Now I learned Greek in high school and we learned “Εν άρχή ήν ό λόγος.” “Logos” was the word we used for Word. But it’s the, the root word for the word logic. You could translate it, “In the beginning was logic. In the beginning was reason and logic and reason was with God and logic and reason was God, that.” Since the beginning of time, God reveals himself in the things he made. That’s St. Paul opening of his, you know, Letter to the Romans. It means that you find God in the physical universe, you find God in the use of your reason, but there’s another side to it. You also do the science because it’s fun, because you find joy in, in the beauty of creation, in the beauty of the explanations that you have for creation. And you wouldn’t do science, you wouldn’t engage in the reason unless you really loved it. So it is this two things together. It is both the emotional joy that we get when we reason and it’s the ability to see things we wouldn’t have seen before except using our God-given reason.
Edmund: What is, what do you make of some of these more popular scientists, you know, I’m thinking of, Richard Dawkins or Neil deGrasse Tyson who say, well Christianity is just a god of the gaps. And, and they kind of try to frame Christian scientists as reaching the limit of understanding and then just, and just saying, well, and then the rest is God. Um, how do you answer that? I mean obviously there’s huge issues with that, that casting. But how, how do you respond to something like that where they say, well your God is just a God of the things you don’t understand?
Br. Guy Consolmagno: They’re right and they’re right to reject that God. You know, if you’ve got, if you’re saying that you’re an atheist, you have to have a clear idea of the God it is you don’t believe in. And I don’t believe in that God either. You wonder what kind of Confirmation classes they had when they were 12 years old when that’s their understanding of what religion was. You know, the trouble is most of us stopped learning science when we were 12 and we stopped learning religion when we were 12. So science is just, you know, getting the answers in the back of the book. And religion is just following a bunch of rules. That’s not what science is any anymore than playing scales is playing music. Science is about all the things we don’t know. And I would hate to close the gaps cuz then there’d be no science to do. And religion is not about following rules. It’s about being in love with God, God who created, and therefore with the things that God created. But you know, if you’ve ever been in love, I hope you don’t think that you understand that other person completely and got it figured out. That’s that. No, cuz that that’s dead.
Edmund: Yeah, that’s a fantastic answer. Um, you have some experience in teaching, but also I’m sure you’re, you’re put in situations where you’re explaining the observatory and walking with others in science. And I wonder your experience of what is helpful when you’re trying to explain the faith or walking with someone who asks questions, um, from your background in science. Like where do you find that the science and faith overlap for you when you’re talking or teaching about the universe?
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, you’d mentioned Neil deGrasse Tyson. He’s actually a friend of mine. And he went to high school or he was in high school with a close friend of mine. So it’s, you know, through my friend Dan Davis that I got to meet Neil. He’s not a bad guy. Obviously, I disagree with him, but that’s okay. The thing that I think was the real insight to me was reading something that a philosopher Raissa Maritain wrote and she was a great philosopher and she was very wise in a lot of things, but she said she came to Christianity because of the evidence of goodness in people. At the end of the day, all of the arguments in the world won’t work if it doesn’t fit with what you actually see Christians doing. When you see Christians criticizing each other in the worst possible terms and trying to rip each other down and trying to use their faith as a cudgel to, you know, “I’m right and you’re wrong” and acting in, dare I say, non-Christian ways, then we’re not showing them the faith, but when we show them a faith that’s full of love and joy, the the thing that works for me when I’m talking to these people, the reason why Neil can be a friend is because we both talk science. We’ve got that uncommon. We know each other, we know how to talk nerd-talk to each other. And I think it’s really important for scientists who are Catholics or other members of faiths to be public about their science to come out of the closet in their parishes. Um, just, you know, you don’t have to proselytize and beat people at work over the head, but let them know that, oh yeah, I’m busy Sunday cuz I’m going to church. Oh yeah, I found in fact, in the modern world, we’re much more accepted than we were a generation ago. And this is a good thing.
Edmund: Yeah. What do you make of that? I remember reading, and this is clearly not good journalism, but I remember reading a headline saying that the majority of scientists actually profess some type of religious belief. I wonder what what you make of that. I think some people would be surprised, uh, that a lot of scientists actually, in fact the majority have professed some type of faith.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: I was surprised, I was a, a scientist for 20 years before I entered the Jesuits. And when I did enter, you know, put on the collar, um, I didn’t wear the collar all the time, but even when I don’t have it on, they know it’s there. I was wondering, you know, what are my friends in the scientific field gonna say? What, what’s the reaction gonna be? And the reaction over and over and over again was, you go to Church? Which I guess maybe I didn’t show it the way I lived, and then they’d say, let me tell you about the church I go to. And I go, you do too? I had no idea. Because, you know, we live in the same society and as scientists we kind of are assuming that we’re the only ones. And having the collar has given my friends a chance to, you know, talk about these things that we would never have talked about before.
Edmund: That’s amazing. Uh, I want to ask you, what is, obviously there’s nothing in science that can prove God’s existence, but what comes to mind as one of the most maybe curious or fascinating that, that at least for you points in the direction of God? And, and while you’re thinking about that, I’ll say, um, there used to be people used to make fun of me because it seemed like it was a, it was a joke that at every party, um, it was only a matter of time before I said the word quantum. So I know nothing, I know nothing about quantum mechanics, but the idea of it and the fact that it’s so confusing in this, you know, I mean it’s, and journalists are picking this up and so obviously it’s getting used in so many different ways and I’m probably, um, yeah, just being too generous with these terms. But the idea of quantum mechanics or the idea that somehow science is, is getting to the point, the edge of the question of is the material universe all that there is or is there something else besides the material universe? And arguing with that question, for me, it’s just a fascinating idea. It doesn’t prove God’s existence for me, but it at least points, suggests in, in the direction of faith. And, and it just opens up this awe and wonder at the universe. What is that thing for you? Is there something, some, something you’ve come across in your work or something that you love talking about that you’re like is, and then at the end of it, you kind of lean across the table and go, “It’s almost as if there’s a God in the universe.” You know/
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, let’s address the quantum thing first because I think that’s something happening in our society. It’s always been there, but it’s certainly happening now, which is this utter desire for certainty that, um, you know, I’ve been talking to people who teach and they say the most common question now is, what do I have to do to get a good grade? In other words, what is the thing, what is the algorithm? What is the certain, and there is no certainty. The scary thing is that when people look to science for their certainty, they eventually encounter not just quantum, but quantum uncertainty. The fact that at the fundamental level of the universe, there is uncertainty. There is something that is more than just gears and levers and laws that always work a hundred percent of the time. And this is frightening to a lot of people. And they sort of wanna push that away because they desperately wanna believe in certainty, justice as fundamentalists in religion want to think that, oh, if I follow these rules, then God will have to let me in which, you know, what kind of God is, you know, checking off, you know, did you follow the rules or not? And it’s like, you know, if, again, to think of a love relationship, if you’re going out on the date and you’ve got a checklist and you know, right. Did she do this? Did she say that? Oh, she said the wrong word. That’s it. You know, time to go home. Yeah. That, that, that’s not a relationship. So let’s get into what actually does show me God in the universe, as you say, you cannot prove God. God is the axiom that you assume before you reason about the universe. If there is a God, then I would expect that it would make sense, that it would be reliable, if not certain, certainly reliable. It would surprise me. It would give me that same jolt of joy that I get in moments of prayer. And the thing that in particular does it for me is that Maxwell’s equations are wonderfully logical and it’s a great way of describing electromagnetism. But when you understand them, they’re not only logical, they’re beautiful. The universe has to be logical or it wouldn’t work. But it doesn’t have to be beautiful. And yet it is. When I’m looking at a puzzle in my scientific work, and I can think of four or five different ways to approach the puzzle, four or five different things to try to find out if this works or not. A really good test, a really good compass is which of the explanations is the most elegant? Why should beauty, why should elegance be so intertwined? So absolutely at the fundamental part of the fabric of the universe. And why should it be so much fun to me? That’s where I find God.
Edmund: That’s amazing. That’s such a, I love that you talked about how there’s quantum uncertainty that so many people, I have friends that are, you know, in Ph.D. programs and are atheist or at least agnostic and curious. And they say, well, “how can you be so certain of God?” And that’s such a, it’s such an interesting thing to point back to. There’s literally at the fundamental level of the universe, there’s uncertainty.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: And the point is we cannot be certain of God. There was a religious writer, Anne Lamott, who had a phrase, “the opposite of faith isn’t doubt. The opposite of faith is certainty.” If you had certainty, then you wouldn’t need faith. Just as that’s what makes, you know, dating somebody exciting cuz you don’t know if it’s gonna work out. That’s what makes going to a football game exciting. Cuz you don’t know how it’s gonna come out. There isn’t certainty. That’s where the spice is. Every time you bake a cake, it’s gonna be a little bit different. Is it gonna work this time? It’s the uncertainty that brings everything to life.
Edmund: That’s amazing. That’s a great answer. Br. Guy, I have to ask you about the question. that’s a title of one of your books, would you baptize an extraterrestrial? So the other thing, when we go to parties, two things that I’m probably gonna say at some point, or I’ll say three words, I’ll give away three of the words that I’ll always say at some point just because as a, as a recreational scientist, right, quantum aliens and ai, artificial intelligence, those are like the three things that I love., just, you know, thinking about imagining. But you’ve gotta explain a little bit the, you know, the story behind the book, but also this idea.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, the story behind the book is, I was being interviewed by some British journalists who were trying to get me to say, ah, when was the pope ever against you? And he goes, Pope wasn’t against us, this was Pope Benedict at the time. So to try to trap me, one of them came up with this, “well, would you baptize an extraterrestrial? Would you baptize an alien?” My dad was a journalist and then helped coach other people dealing with journalists. He taught me at his knee, “Never answer a hypothetical question.” Because the reality is always gonna be crazier than what you think when you answer. So rather than giving an answer yes or no, I just said, you know, only if they ask, show me the extraterrestrial and then we can figure it out. But I realized afterwards they were trying to trap me. They were trying to say either, you know, an alien that could come from outer space is so far advanced, why would they need baptism? Or, you know, I’d be either arrogant to baptize them or admitting the shortcomings of my faith if I didn’t baptize them. And both of those are not necessarily true. You know, the greater question is, would you let an alien baptize you? There is a question to think about, but you know, along, we’ve talked with quantum, we’ve talked with aliens. I’ll throw in the one last thing about, you know, why are people so worried about artificial intelligence? The idea that human beings can construct something that has reason, that has intellect and free will. Um, you think of it in terms of computers and you know, technicians in Silicon Valley, but let’s face it, the human baby still pound for pound, has the best computer going, and those can be made by unskilled labor.
Edmund: That’s great. Man. Could you talk a little bit about, uh, your recently published book, finding God in the Universe? Could you share a little bit about that one?
Br. Guy Consolmagno: There was part of a series that a publishing house in London had where they had asked a lot of people, you know, “who is God to you?” They called it “My Theology.” And I think they were looking for me saying, ah, the beauty of this theory or that, that that’s where God is. And certainly I would say that, but what I really wanted to say in the book was to attack something that’s very much out there nowadays, the people who say, “I’m not religious, but I’m spiritual.” And they remind me of the people who write into me once a week, at least with brand new theories of the universe that they thought up in their basement. And you know, they, they’ll prove that Einstein was wrong or whatever. Science cannot be done by a lone wolf sitting in the basement trying to invent things because science isn’t the answers, it’s the conversation. You have to have other people to have the conversation. You have to be listening to the conversation before you can join in. You have to know that these are interesting questions before you can say, huh, that’s interesting. And maybe this little thing that I do know can add to the conversation. But science though, we do it as individuals sitting in front of our computer screens, science is a culture. It’s a whole lot of people working together, talking to each other. Religion is the same way. My religion is not me feeling cool when I look at the stars, ” oh, I feel like God’s there.” My religion is part of a bigger community that can tell me salvation history, that can tell me the history of what has been going on in God interacting with human beings that can give me things to do when I want to worship God. When I want to love God, when I want to express how much I love God, that gives me places to go when I’m hurt and gives me places to go to share what I’ve learned with other people. It means the structure, it means schools, it means churches, it means publishing houses, it means, you know, newspapers and podcasts. We can’t share what we have and you know, not reinvent the wheel every day unless we have this structure. So for me, my theology is “US finding God in the universe,” not “me finding God in the universe.”
Edmund: Yeah, that’s a really gr that’s a fascinating way I’m thinking to even begin a conversation with someone else, if you’re trying to talk about Christianity and introduce them to Jesus and the Church, the connections there between the great conversation of science and then you have the great conversational philosophy, the human conversation and the great conversation of the Church, the Church and kind of the Church being the all encompassing, the most encompassing conversation. With the Catechism. I think a lot of people see the Catechism as just a list of rules like you had mentioned earlier. Um, but really, you know, Vatican II calling for this Catechism was trying to, to, uh, say that we need a way to repose the same faith, not a different faith, the same faith in a way that people can look to it and say, and at least be sure that this is what the Church teaches.
Because in the past it’s been very confusing what the Church teaches. Uh, and sometimes, sometimes some people find it to be confusing the way it’s presented or what have you. And this was a way for the whole Church to say and come out universally, this is what we teach. Make no mistake about it. And I wonder, um, if you’ve had any experiences of, of, um, you know yeah, interacting with someone about these dogmas of the faith and how the certainty of this dogma opens things up. It is not, it’s not limiting. It’s like we, we know for sure that Jesus was both God and man and the certainty of that, um, opens things up. It’s, it’s freeing. It’s not, it’s not, um, a hindrance.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, it’s also the idea that we know for sure that that’s true. And I also know for sure that I don’t understand it. A faith that I could completely understand. I wouldn’t trust. Just as, um, Newtonian physics is marvelous and complete. Nobody’s inventing new bits of Newtonian physics, in part because we know very precisely where it fails. Newtonian physics was a human invention and completely understandable. Though my freshman that I teach sometimes would, you know, argue against that. It’s, you know, in theory could be understood, but it’s always only in completely true. It doesn’t cover the things that we’ve learned since, uh, Newton’s time. In the same way, the dogmas of the faith are points that we can start at to begin the lifelong adventure of trying to understand them. Because what happens to me with points of faith, with things I’ve learned in Catechism is I’ll memorize these words, not really knowing what they mean. And then I’ll encounter something in my life and I go, oh, that’s what they were talking about. Never occurred to me that’s what they meant until I went there. But I’ve got the pinnacle, these pieces of faith that then I can apply just as, um, when you’re approaching a scientific problem and you’ve got a bunch of rules in the back of your head, then you look at this and you go, oh, wait a minute. That’s an example of, oh, that’s what Einstein meant when he wrote E equals mc squared. I never thought of it that way. That, oh, you can get energy out of destroying matter. Who knew?
Edmund: That’s great. I wonder what advice, you know, as we’re starting to close the interview, and thank you so much for your time. You’re so you, this has been so great. I wonder what advice you have for, I know there are people in situations where maybe a sibling or a relative or a friend that they care very deeply about, maybe they themselves, you know, are committed to Jesus and the Church and but then someone that they care about or someone that’s close to them, uh, you know, maybe went to MIT or Georgia Tech. It is very science minded. Very…
Br. Guy Consolmagno: I went to MIT. Hey, come on!
Edmund: Yeah, great, great, great. But, but they’re, but they’re more, more challenging and questioning of the faith. I wonder what advice you would give someone who cares, like comes to you and says, Br. Guy, my friend is so against antagonistic to the faith. Or at least just not, not convince and I care about them very deeply and I just don’t know how to, how to help them or I don’t know what I should do to help walk them closer to Jesus or to at least be open to that. Not to force them, but to be open to helping them understand the church more. They’re so smart. They know all this stuff about science and I’m just, I’m just a guy. Not a Br. Guy, but a guy.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Rejoice. If somebody is questioning, that means they’re still looking for God. They haven’t given up the search. Rejoice when they can challenge you, let them challenge you. There’s not one of us who doesn’t need to have our certainties challenged. The fundamental certainty that I think we can rely on is truth doesn’t contradict truth. Pope John Paul II said that. Aquinas said that. That at the end of the day, we don’t understand, but it will make sense. And if their challenges make you realize that God is bigger than what you experienced and in the process they see you as a good person, then that will be such a stronger, stronger argument to the faith than trying to come up with a clever, uh, you know, two line soundbite. No one was ever converted by a syllogism. They’re converted by seeing God in the lives of the people around them.
Edmund: Wow. That’s fantastic advice Br. Guy, is there anything else? Um, obviously we want to direct people to the Vatican Observatory website, which well have links to that. But is there anywhere else that you wanna direct people or anything else you want people to, to know or do if they wanna support your work and the work of the Vatican?
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Well, certainly there’s opportunities on the website. We’ve got, uh, a resource center there, uh, videos, books, articles that, uh, if you’re teaching, you can use this because having said that, once you have decided you wanna know more about the faith, that’s when the logic, that’s when the reason, that’s when the arguments can give you fun things to think about. And that’s what we provide at our website. So vaticanobservatory.org, what could be easier to remember.
Edmund: That’s great. Well, thank you again, Br. Guy for being here.
Br. Guy Consolmagno: Thanks for having me.
Edmund: I hope you enjoyed that interview as much as I did. There’s so many nuggets there. So many great takeaways that Br. Guy had and just wanted to wrap up with a few thoughts. So Sherry A. Weddell in Forming Intentional Disciples mentions the stages of discipleship. Um, these different stages that that one goes on as they get closer and closer to intentional discipleship and some of the earlier stages, uh, involve trust and curiosity. So the stage of trust, it’s really important to use what she calls bridges of trust to accompany others in their walk towards intentional discipleship. Now, bridge of trust might be something that, something about the Church or about faith that someone, um, does trust. So for instance, someone might be very against Christianity in general, but think it’s really cool that someone like Br. Guy and the Vatican, uh, are doing this work on, on astronomy and in science. So you might be walking with someone who’s maybe more skeptical of Christianity, but does have this bridge of trust in terms of, uh, talking to you about science. And I think Br. Guy gave an amazing, uh, a bunch of examples of ways that we could use the science and wonder and curiosity and also the, the skepticism or doubt, the uncertainty that we have, uh, just as a part of being a part of life. Um, I love some of these things that he said and to just remind us again that these can be bridges of trust and that we should approach these. We just like, like open eyes and ears and just have a conversation. Uh, and just a reminder that science, even though it’s often seen as at odds with the faith, it can be one of these bridges of trust. So the fact that the Vatican even has an observatory is a wonderful bridge of trust. The Catechism says in paragraph 44, “man is by nature and vocation a religious being coming from God, going toward God, man lives a fully human life only if he freely lives by his bond with God.” So there’s this idea that people have, the truth is people have a deep desire for God. Man is by nature and vocation a religious being. So when we are being curious about the universe and the world, there’s a way to see that as a desire and a capacity for God. So again, there’s so many wonderful nuggets in this episode. I hope that you enjoyed it. Please let us know in the comments if you have any other thoughts, things that were stirred up as you were listening to this or things that you felt like could equip you and help you to use the Catechism, use the faith and science to walk with others closer to an intentional relationship with Jesus Christ.
Again, our mission is to unlock the truth and beauty of the Catechism and help people around the world to encounter its pulsating heart, Jesus Christ. And this podcast is hopefully helpful for you to be equipped to do that. And, um, again, Real+ True is creating videos, stories, animations, podcast to help unpack and unlock the Catechism of the Catholic Church. And we’re making all of this free to the world. So we thank you so much for joining us. Please feel free to subscribe anywhere you can listen to podcasts or you can watch this podcast. And I can’t wait to see you guys all on the next episode of The Real+True Podcast.
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