Considering the heavens: Astronomer Guy Consolmagno

Guy Consolmagno SJ is a researcher at the Vatican Observatory in Castel Gandolfo, Italy, and at the Vatican Observatory Research Group at the University of Arizona in Tucson. Until last year he was the Vatican’s curator of meteorites; he is now president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, which supports the work of the observatory. He has a Ph.D. in planetary science from the University of Arizona. He recently wrote, with Paul Mueller SJ, Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? . . . and Other Questions from the Astronomers’ In-Box at the Vatican Observatory.

The evolutionary biologist Stephen Jay Gould called science and religion “nonoverlapping magisteria”—different fields of inquiry. Is that the best way to look at the relationship?

I don’t think so. Gould tried to be sympathetic to religion, but it is clear that he didn’t get it. The temptation is to hold science and religion in watertight boxes, but there is one place where they do in fact overlap: in the human being who is doing the science and practicing the religion. At the end of the day, you have to account for that.