Tag Archives: science

Human Genomics help us to understand Adam and Eve, Father Nicanor Austriaco says

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The Rhode Island Benedictine Portsmouth Abbey School welcomed Dominican Father Nicanor Austriaco to
deliver the Dom Luke Childs Lecture on October 15,
2012. He is an Associate Professor of Biology at Providence College. Father’s address was titled, “What Can Human Genomics Tell Us About Adam and Eve?

 Watch the presentation, it is very good and informative.

The Dom Luke Childs Lecture honors the popular Benedictine monk who taught at Portsmouth and died unexpectedly in 1976. The Lecture topics cover a wide range of intellectual and culture pursuits.

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“Reality holds a signature from God … we must seek to decipher”

The transcript for the talk on whether a scientist can be a believer that was given at a lecture hosted by the New York Encounter in January has just been released by the Crossroads Cultural Center. Faith and reason is being explored here. It is a great question to ask if a believer in Christ –or perhaps a Jew or Muslim adherent– can be credible, true to his or her being given a certain intellectual formation. Does belief in God forfeit our true search for the Divine? Monsignor Lorenzo Albacete’s portion of the discussion is the most interesting to me and it is noted below (emphasis mine). A believer sometime has to work overtime to convince him or herself that faith and science are compatible. The other day my attention was drawn to what a little girl said about Lent: her view of life and the simplicity by which we have to look everything realizing that we don’t make ourselves; everything is given. Albacete answers the question of the compatibility of faith and science: The answer, I propose, is not only yes he can, but, in fact, it is faith that will sustain his or her passion for investigating nature, and prevent the process itself and its results from becoming enslaved to political, economic, and religious ideology.Let me know what you think.

In such a case, is awe, wonder, and joy at scientific
discoveries possible? When I was thinking about this, a friend sent me the text
of a speech given by Msgr. Luigi Giussani about the “love of being” that is
remarkably appropriate to this reflection.  Giussani’s argument is that the truth of Christianity can be
verified by a proper consideration of the evidence
for it. Evidence, he says,
is the correct word, even if the evidence for the Christian claim is given to
us through signs
. Signs are things that can be touched, seen, and experienced. The Apostles had Jesus in front of them and this presence was a sign of His
victory over death, and therefore of His mysterious identity. But what about
us? What happens with the passage of time? What signs are there for us as
evidence of the truth of the Christian claim, of the reasonableness of the
Christian claim?

The interpretation of the signs available to us engages our
liberty, he says. In this drama, our liberty is a manifestation of our love for
being. Without this love for being we are not truly free and we will never
grasp the evidence of the signs given to us. At this point, as an example of
this love for being, Giussani invokes the Magi.

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The task of science was AND remains a patient, passionate search for truth about the cosmos, nature, the constitution of the human being, Pope tells us

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For those who think that the Catholic Church, orthodox Catholic theology, the Pope, or any right-thinking Catholic person in the 21st century is against science: think again. Take your head out of the sand; do some reading. Today, His Holiness address the distinguished members of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences meeting for their plenary assembly. The theme they’ve chosen to explore is “The Scientific Legacy of the Twentieth Century.”

Two papal hopes for future scientists: “the need for an interdisciplinary approach tied with philosophical reflection” and that the work of science “always be informed by the imperatives of fraternity and peace, helping to solve the great problems of humanity, and directing everyone’s efforts towards the true good of man and the integral development of the peoples of the world.”

Benedict addressed the following text to 80 scientists:

The history of science in the twentieth century is one of
undoubted achievement and major advances. Unfortunately, the popular image of
twentieth-century science is sometimes characterized otherwise, in two extreme
ways. On the one hand, science is posited by some as a panacea, proven by its
notable achievements in the last century. Its innumerable advances were in fact
so encompassing and so rapid that they seemed to confirm the point of view that
science might answer all the questions of man’s existence, and even of his
highest aspirations. On the other hand, there are those who fear science and
who distance themselves from it, because of sobering developments such as the
construction and terrifying use of nuclear weapons.

Science, of course, is not
defined by either of these extremes. Its task was and remains a patient yet
passionate search for the truth about the cosmos, about nature and about the
constitution of the human being.
In this search, there have been many successes
and failures, triumphs and setbacks. The developments of science have been both
uplifting, as when the complexity of nature and its phenomena were discovered,
exceeding our expectations, and humbling, as when some of the theories we
thought might have explained those phenomena once and for all proved only
. Nonetheless, even provisional results constitute a real contribution
to unveiling the correspondence between the intellect and natural realities, on
which later generations may build further.

The progress made in scientific
knowledge in the twentieth century, in all its various disciplines, has led to
a greatly improved awareness of the place that man and this planet occupy in
the universe. In all sciences, the common denominator continues to be the notion
of experimentation as an organized method for observing nature. In the last
century, man certainly made more progress – if not always in his knowledge of
himself and of God, then certainly in his knowledge of the macro- and
microcosms – than in the entire previous history of humanity. Our meeting here
today, dear friends, is a proof of the Church’s esteem for ongoing scientific
research and of her gratitude for scientific endeavour, which she both
encourages and benefits from
. In our own day, scientists themselves appreciate
more and more the need to be open to philosophy if they are to discover the
logical and epistemological foundation for their methodology and their
conclusions. For her part, the Church is convinced that scientific activity
ultimately benefits from the recognition of man’s spiritual dimension and his
quest for ultimate answers that allow for the acknowledgement of a world
existing independently from us, which we do not fully understand and which we
can only comprehend in so far as we grasp its inherent logic
. Scientists do not
create the world; they learn about it and attempt to imitate it, following the
laws and intelligibility that nature manifests to us. The scientist’s
experience as a human being is therefore that of perceiving a constant, a law,
a logos that he has not created but that he has instead observed
: in fact, it
leads us to admit the existence of an all-powerful Reason, which is other than
that of man, and which sustains the world. This is the meeting point between the
natural sciences and religion. As a result, science becomes a place of
dialogue, a meeting between man and nature and, potentially, even between man
and his Creator.

As we look to the twenty-first century, I would like to
propose two thoughts for further reflection. First, as increasing
accomplishments of the sciences deepen our wonder of the complexity of nature,
the need for an interdisciplinary approach tied with philosophical reflection
leading to a synthesis is more and more perceived. Secondly, scientific
achievement in this new century should always be informed by the imperatives of
fraternity and peace, helping to solve the great problems of humanity, and
directing everyone’s efforts towards the true good of man and the integral
development of the peoples of the world. The positive outcome of twenty-first
century science will surely depend in large measure on the scientist’s ability
to search for truth and apply discoveries in a way that goes hand in hand with
the search for what is just and good.

Science, philosophy: does wonder have a place?

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Vatican Observatory Moves

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The Jesuit report that after residing
more than seventy years within the papal summer Palace itself, the headquarters of the Vatican Observatory recently moved to a new
location in the Papal Gardens at Castelgandolfo. The move was occasioned by
increased demands for space within the Palace, and the growing needs of the
Observatory. Until few weeks ago, the observatory offices were located on the
top floor of Papal Palace, the Pope’s summer home located in the Alban Hills,
25 kilometers southeast of Rome. Its extensive astronomical library is
scattered over four rooms on the top two floors of the Palace, while the
valuable meteorite collection and laboratory, the historic vault of
photographic observations made at the Observatory from 1895 to 1979, and the
classroom where the biennial Vatican Observatory Summer Schools are conducted,
are located on the ground floor of the Palace. Meanwhile, the living
quarters of the Jesuits is divided between rooms on the second and top floors.
With the prospect of half a dozen younger Jesuits joining the staff over the
next five years, the issue of both residence and office space was becoming

“Moving the Observatory collections and libraries has been
a logistical challenge,” noted Father José Funes, the Argentinean
Jesuit and director of the observatory. “But the new site will allow us to
address a growing need for space and order.” The new quarters,
located in the remodelled monastery built by the Basilian monks within one of
the most beautiful gardens in the Italian peninsula, should provide a far more
peaceful and comfortable setting. The Vatican Observatory traces its
history to the reform of the calendar by Pope Gregory XIII in 1583. It was
re-organized by Pope Leo XIII in 1891, “so that everyone might see clearly
that the Church and her Pastors are not opposed to true and solid science,
whether human or divine, but that they embrace it, encourage it, and promote it
with the fullest possible devotion.”

About the author

Paul A. Zalonski is from New Haven, CT. He is a member of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, a Catholic ecclesial movement, and an Oblate of Saint Benedict. Contact Paul at paulzalonski[at]yahoo.com.
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