Tuesday, December 09, 2014
The Pope’s Astronomer Says He’d Baptize An Alien If Given The Chance
Via Charisma News: With Christmas just around the corner, Brother Guy Consolmagno gets a lot of questions this time of year about the Star of Bethlehem that led the Magi to Jesus in the manger. Consolmagno is an astronomer—a planetary scientist for the Vatican observatory, in fact—who specializes in asteroids and meteorites, the very sort that may well have been the famous "star" described in the gospel of Matthew. "It's fun speculation", Consolmagno said, smiling though a graying beard while sitting on a bench in Central Park on an unseasonably warm afternoon. "It's fascinating to realize that there actually are a couple of quite plausible things it could be". "But what's even more interesting to me is that this story was included, of all the stories that Matthew might have included", he said, growing animated as he does when diving into his twin vocations of science and theology. "Whether it's something he heard from Mary, or whether it's something he made up, why was it included?" If those are the sort of musings you enjoy, and a level of ambiguity you can handle, then you will like the new book that Consolmagno has written with his fellow Jesuit, the Rev. Paul Mueller, who heads the Jesuit community at Castel Gandolfo, a hilltop town near Rome where the Vatican's main telescope is located. (The other is on a mountaintop near Tucson, Arizona.) Their book is titled Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? another question that Consolmagno is asked a lot in his many speeches and media appearances, and one that Pope Francis—a fellow Jesuit and a trained chemist—has posed as part of his focus on Catholic inclusivity. Consolmagno's short answer is yes. But "only if she asks!" While the longer answer is spelled out in the book, the two Jesuits are really aiming their lens at a bigger goal: to show how people of faith can also believe in science. "God is reason. If you reject reason, you are rejecting God", Consolmagno said.