Brother Astronomer: A book interweaving science and religion

How can someone be a scientist and a Jesuit Brother?  Brother (and Dr.) Guy Consolmagno explains how is Brother Astronomer:  Adventures of a Vatican Scientist.  My co-worker lent this to me before I went to Rome for the 2010 European Planetary Science Conference.  Both he and several of my co-workers know Consolmagno, and going to the home of the Vatican while listening to amazing science all week was a great gift!  I started reading the book on the way there, and it provided the perfect travel/ book combination.


"Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist"


While I have never understand the conflict between having a strong faith and believing in science, it certainly is a hot topic.  I work in the science field and live in the Silicon Valley, and many in particularly intellectual crowds dismiss huge portions of religious folks, with all religious folks being cast as “fundamentalists”.

Consolmagno delves into the subtleties of these issues, instead of broad generalizations about religious zealots OR the atheist scientist.  If one is very fundamentalist in their belief of religion or science, that person may not be swayed by this book (but who knows?!)  I do think this is a great book that articulates a few key points:

  • Science is often like faith in God:  it can be misconstrued and made a zealot religion, but it can also be a gateway to service
  • Science is a way to uncover the mysteries of God’s creations
  • Brother Guy is a person like anyone else!  He has some comical tales of field science, and is human in his frustrations and (comical) interpersonal relations

Overall, the book reads very well and I would recommend it to those who have a foot in both science and religion, but have never stood in them with unified belief.  The book really integrates the two, and reveals both how science is done and a bit of the religious lifestyle as well.  It does include some fun science gathered from meteorites, which lovers of science will enjoy.  The ending is slightly abrupt… but it leaves the reader wanting to hear what of “adventures” this Vatican astronomer has had.

A Reason to Pray

I have not prayed in a good long while. Of the many possible explanations possible, I think what stands out is not having faith and not feeling the need to pray enough. But tonight, Tuesday, November 4, 2008, I have a reason to pray: Barack Obama won the United States of America Presidential Election, and became the first Black, African-American President-elect of this great country.

So what do I pray for?

Obama Acceptance Speeh

Obama Acceptance Speeh

I pray for him to have the wisdom to lead this country in these confusing, hurtful times. I have high expectations of him– it would be insulting not to– but I also know that he is human, and will make mistakes. I pray that he will deal with them gracefully.

I pray for his family, that they have strength and support to take them through the next several years. I pray that, more than remembering their father as the first African-American President, his children remember him as a loving wonderful father, and his wife see him as the strong, true, integrity-filled man whose eyes she looked into on their wedding day. I pray that his mother and grandmother in heaven know the role they have in this important day.

I pray that the World, including America, is ready for him. May he be protected from those that are afraid and naive, and hate because they don’t know better.

It takes faith and hope to pray, and Barack Obama has brought both faith and hope to this country today. We have faith in him to lead us, and we hope that the best is possible.

Here’s to having a reason to pray!