The May 9-12 conference honoring Monsignor George Lemaitre is being held at the Vatican Observatory, founded by Pope Leo XIII in 1891 to help correct the notion that the Roman Catholic Church was hostile to science. The perception has persisted in some circles since Galileo's heresy trial 400 years ago.
This being America, the affair gave rise to a lawsuit in which a judge places a restraining order on science, ordering it to stay 500 feet away from religion at all times. The scene reflected the popular conception that science and religion are natural enemies, and that things turn combustible whenever they intersect.
Some two years in the works, the idea behind the conference is to bring together experts in both theoretical and observational cosmology, to ponder new questions arising from the discoveries of puzzling elements of the universe such as dark matter and dark energy.
Finally, Consolmagno called on scientists who are also believers to “come out of the closet” about it, sharing their scientific work with people in their churches and faith communities.
“They should set up their telescopes in the church parking lot, or lead natural trails for youth groups,” Consolmagno said. “People in churches need to be reminded that science was an invention of medieval universities founded by the church, and that the logic of science comes out of the logic of theology.