March 11, 2015 - Science, Religion, and the Art of Storytelling


Lecture Abstract

What do astronomy, religion, and science fiction all have in common? They are all interested in the big questions; and they also all depend on the art of storytelling to present their strange and wonderful ideas in ways that people can understand, appreciate, and evaluate. We'll  examine why stories are fundamental to our understanding of religion; when being a good storyteller is essential in doing science; and how the way we tell these stories influences how we think about the big ideas.

Responses by: Dr. Robbin D. Crabtree, Dean of the Bellarmine College of Liberal Arts
and Dr. Thomas M. Ward, Academy Faculty Fellow and Assistant Professor of Philosophy

About Guy Consolmagno, SJ

Brother Guy Consolmagno SJ, incoming president of the Vatican Observatory Foundation, is an astronomer and meteoriticist at the Vatican Observatory. A native of Detroit, Michigan, he earned undergraduate and masters' degrees from MIT, and a Ph. D. in Planetary Science from the University of Arizona, was a postdoctoral research fellow at Harvard and MIT, served in the US Peace Corps (Kenya), and taught university physics at Lafayette College before entering the Jesuits in 1989.

At the Vatican Observatory since 1993, his research explores connections between meteorites, asteroids, and the evolution of small solar system bodies, observing Kuiper Belt comets with the Vatican's 1.8 meter telescope in Arizona, and applying his measure of meteorite physical properties to understanding asteroid origins and structure. Along with more than 200 scientific publications, he is the author of a number of popular books including Turn Left at Orion (with Dan Davis), and Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? (with Paul Mueller). He also has hosted science programs for BBC Radio 4, been interviewed in numerous documentary films, and writes a monthly science column for the British Catholic magazine, The Tablet.

Dr. Consolmagno has been elected to the governing boards of a number of international scientific organizations, including serving as chair of the American Astronomical Society’s Division for Planetary Sciences. In 2000, the small bodies nomenclature committee of the IAU named an asteroid, 4597 Consolmagno, in recognition of his work.

Links to resources on Brother Guy

NPR Coverage of B. Guy's 2014 Carl Sagan Award
UC Santa Cruz Interview 
Vatican Observatory 
Vatican Observatory Foundation 
Brother Guy on his Jesuit Vocation