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Author of AGAINST A DARKENING SKY, THE EMPTY ROOM, OUR DAILY BREAD, and others. Find out more at www.LaurenBDavis.com. I read as if my sanity depended upon it.. . . oh, wait, it does! Snort.

Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist

Brother Astronomer: Adventures of a Vatican Scientist - Guy Consolmagno Since I adore the idea of astronomers in the Vatican and, as a person of faith, have no problem whatsoever resolving my experience of the Sacred with science, I was very much looking forward to reading this book. Alas, I was disappointed. Although I certainly appreciate Consolmagno's work as a scientist studying meteorites, and agree with him that science can be a religious act ("studying creation is a way of worshiping the creator"), I am less than impressed by his insistence, for example, that all technological and scientific advancement is a result of the Incarnation. Look, this might actually be true, who am I to say, but my experience of God is obviously more all-encompassing that his. He says, "To appreciate how radical this concept is, merely compare it to the attitudes of the Hindus or the Chinese. Where are their Michael DeBakeys or Thomas Edisons, or their Mayo Clinics and MIT's?" REALLY?? I'm stunned by such blinkered ignorance. He is equally blind about Islam, and one supposes, Judaism. I would what he has to say about, not only the myriad of contributions to modern life over the centuries by Muslims, Chinese, and Indian inventors and scientists, but the contributions of Jewish scientists. Einstein, anyone? I was also disturbed by his insistence that Pagans have no concept of a creating God. What utter nonsense. As a Medewin (the religion of the Ojibway) Elder who was also an ex-Jesuit, once said to me, "The Archangel Michael and the Thunderbird? Same thing." Indeed. Fine, so I can't go to this book for any insights into religion. What about the science? The sections involving hard science were, at least for me, a bit dry and technical. And much of the writing, in any section, is not particularly well crafted, not terribly elegant. I did enjoy the Antarctic essay, but not from a language perspective. Consolmagno himself seems like an amiable fellow (even if I would disagree with him about the his religious conclusions), and a humble one. There's little posturing here. Still, for science-and-religion writing, I will stick to the work of Chet Raymo and Lorne Eiseley. Now, there are scientists who inspire me not only for the beauty of their writing, but for the wonder of their science and the depth of their theology (although Raymo, who says he doesn't believe in God, would probably cringe at that, which makes me chuckle, since his books are so darn spiritual!).