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Pope's astronomer to discuss faith and science in Scotland

by Press Association

Brother Guy Consolmagno, director of the Vatican Observatory, has been invited to the UK by interdenominational body Grasping the Nettle (GTN), which promotes dialogue on how faith and science can work together.

He will give a number of academic talks and will also attend school conferences during his four-day visit to Scotland this week.

The American research astronomer will also attend the GTN National Conference in Edinburgh on November 2.

Brother Consolmagno, a Jesuit religious brother, said: "I am thrilled to be coming to Scotland to participate in the Grasping the Nettle programme.

"It's so important to dialogue with students and the general public, of all faiths and sciences, how faith enhances our science and science our faith. Both seek truth, and find it in joy."

He added: "The claim that somehow a scientist must be atheist is a holdover from the Victorian idea of materialism.

"But consider the 19th-century physicist James Clerk Maxwell, whose famous equations led to the overthrow of that misconception and opened the door to modern physics. He was a man of deep faith; and, of course, a Scotsman. I am honoured to visit the land of his birth."

GTN challenges the idea that increasing scientific knowledge implies that science and religion are in conflict.

Very Rev John Chalmers, former Church of Scotland moderator and ambassador-at-large for GTN, said: "Those of us who are a part of GTN believe that the search for God is not incompatible with holding a deep respect for science and its success in helping us to understand our place in the physical universe.

"We are searching for meaning and purpose and as well as exploring our inner space, we find inspiration in outer space."

Catholic Archbishop of Edinburgh Leo Cushley said: "Brother Guy Consolmagno is a high-profile example of one whose work combines matters of science and matters of God, demonstrating once more that there is absolutely no inherent conflict between scientific understanding and belief in a creator; the more we know about science, the more we see the imprint of a creator.

"That we have a Jesuit speaking at an event hosted by the interdenominational body Grasping the Nettle underscores the commitment of the Church in Scotland to speak with one voice on the issue of science and God."

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