As a former Catholic, educated by Jesuits for eight years, I am thinking through the intellectual tradition that I have left behind as I prep for the supercool visit from Br. Guy Consolmagno, a Vatican astronomer who is coming to Duluth.
When I was younger, I struggled a lot with the antiscientific vibe I get from
(a) some interpretations of the Bible
(b) some theological positions, typically understood as “fundamentalist” positions, on the truth of the Bible
(c) some extreme home-brewed positions on the Bible.
The earth is not 6,000 years old, and the universe was not created in seven 24-hour periods. Left alone with the Bible as a child, this literal interpretation made sense and it was the first thing I gave up when I was no longer a child. Institutions that embrace the literal interpretation as a matter of dogma (e.g. the Answers in Genesis movement, which shares the “evidence” for its claims in the Creation Museum) are misguided, to me.
But here’s the thing. The Catholic Church has thought this through, at least a little, in the “Truth Cannot Contradict Truth” position. If science and the Bible seem to contradict each other, it doesn’t mean that science is wrong or that the Bible is wrong, but simply that we need to keep searching for the truth that brings these contradictory claims together.
I suppose this appeals to me because it replaces certainty with a continued searching. Even as I no longer identify as Catholic, I suppose, I feel that continued searching.
Br. Guy Consolmagno will be in Duluth for the Sieur du Lhut Creativity Conference, which is free and open to the public, on April 19. He will also do public presentations at St. Scholastica on the 20th, at the UMD Newman Center on the 19th, and virtually, from St. Paul, to the inside of the Alworth Planetarium on the 14th.
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