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Catholic scientists converge to ask big questions

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Society of Catholic Scientists to hold inaugural conference

Photo: These are the covers of "Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science" and "The Believing Scientist: Essays on Science and Religion." A group of Catholic scientists are set to gather in Chicago for the first time April 21-23. (CNS)

The first conference of the Society of Catholic Scientists will focus on beginnings: the origin of consciousness, the origin of human language, the origin of the cosmos, and the origin of living things.

“Might there be other planets that harbor life – perhaps one of the recently discovered earth-like 'exoplanets'? Might there even be other universes?” reads an announcement of the event at the society's inaugural conference, held April 21-23 in Chicago.

The society, founded in 2016, aims “to witness to the harmony between the vocation of the scientist and the life of faith.” It wants to foster fellowship among Catholic scientists and provide a resource and discussion forum for those with questions about science and faith, while also adhering to Catholic teaching.

Conference topics included “The Catholic Scientist in the Secular World: What is the meaning of our vocation and how does it distinguish us?” and Canadian Franciscan and biochemistry professor Father Joachim Ostermann, OFM, on the topic of science in light of the Christian view of the human person.

Among the scheduled Catholic speakers were Vatican Observatory director Brother Guy Consolmagno, SJ; Karin Öberg, an astronomy professor at Harvard University; and Kenneth R. Miller, a biology professor at Brown University.

The Society of Catholic Scientists has several hundred members including top researchers in astrobiology, evolutionary theory, and super-string theory.

Members include American Catholic scientists as well as undergraduate, graduate or postdoctoral students pursuing research in a natural science. The society's president is Stephen M. Barr, a professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Delaware. Its episcopal adviser is Archbishop Charles Chaput of Philadelphia.

The society held its first-ever Gold Mass at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s chapel last November, choosing the term Gold because of the colour of the hoods worn by those graduating with a doctorate in science.

The Mass follows the tradition of Masses for other professions, such as Red Masses for lawyers, White Masses for medical professionals, and Blue Masses for police officers.

The Society of Catholic Scientists website is

Last Updated on Monday, 24 April 2017 08:05  

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