‘God, Astronomy and the Search for Elegance,’ excites campus


Gannon University will be hosting Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., Ph.D., astronomer at the Vatican Observatory, Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and the Vatican Observatory Research Group (VORG), Tucson, Arizona, to deliver the inaugural Bishop Donald Trautman Lecture in Catholic Theology.

The lecture, titled “God, Astronomy and the Search for Elegance,” will be given  at 7 p.m. Feb. 4, in the Yehl Ballroom in Waldron Campus Center.

Eric Dart, an instructor in the theology department, said the lecture provides a chance to have someone of such international stature here at Gannon to share ideas about the connections between faith and reason.

“It’s a great opportunity, I’m looking forward to the dialogue between faith and science that he will be able to facilitate,” Dart said.

The Detroit native earned degrees in planetary sciences at MIT and the University of Arizona (Ph.D., 1978).  He then continued on to teach at Harvard University, MIT, the Peace Corps and Lafayette College before entering the Jesuit order in 1989.

Stephen Hart, a fifth-year theology major  at Gannon, said he is looking forward to the lecture.

“After this year, I’ll have dual degrees in science and theology, so I am looking forward to seeing how he integrates the two in order to gain some perspective and integrate that into my own understanding,” Hart said.

Cody Feikles, a sophomore theology major, said he is talking about this lecture in his classes and is looking forward to having more questions answered.

“I am taking a philosophy of science class right now and we have been talking about this lecture and how science takes on the approach of faith.”

Dart said the relationship between faith and reason is fundamentally the identity of Gannon in many ways.

“It is certainly rooted in the Catholic intellectual tradition that belief permeates all of our intellectual endeavors,” Dart said. “Our culture that we are a part of tends to want to separate faith and science from one another, wanting to departmentalize them.

“I’m hopeful that he’ll be able to draw these ideas together and make sense of the relationship from the perspective of someone who has spent their life in science but at the same time, spends their life at the center of our Catholic faith.”

This approach coming into the lecture is one that can be implemented not only in the attending’s personal lives, but throughout Gannon and the university’s mission statement.

Jared Schaaf, a senior theology major, said he likes when Gannon brings in speakers that lecture about intersections that normally aren’t addressed and even ignored.

“Gannon is primarily a medical school so I think it would be interesting to see the ethical and unethical views through the Catholic lens on medical procedures such as stem cell research,” Schaaf said.

The lecture was made possible by an anonymous donation in honor of Trautman, who served as the bishop of the Diocese of Erie from 1990-2012 as well as chairman of Gannon’s Board of Trustees.  The Bishop Donald Trautman lecture in Catholic Theology is free and open to the public.

For more information abour the lecture contact the Mission and Ministry Office at 814-871-7334 or 814-871-7434.

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