Priest speaks on topic at ISU in Ames
By Susan Stanton
AMES — Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, was the first 2017 speaker in the Msgr. James A. Supple Lecture Series held on Sept. 25 at Iowa State University. The lecture given by Father Spitzer was titled “Is There Evidence of God from Contemporary Science?” and sponsored by the Catholic Student Community, St Thomas Aquinas Catholic Church and Student Center and the Committee on Lectures (funded by Student Government) at Iowa State University.
Father Spitzer, past president of Gonzaga University, has a weekly TV series on EWTN called “Fr. Spitzer’s Universe.” He also has appeared on the History Channel, PBS, and debated Stephen Hawking and Leonard Mlodinow on the “Larry King Live” show.
He began by telling the packed house at ISU, “It is not true that faith and science are in conflict. We have 27 priests, leaders in science over the centuries as proof. We can go clean back to Copernicus.”
Nicolaus Copernicus was a Polish priest who died in 1543. Before his death he had written and studied the solar system and its workings over decades. His conclusions were extensive but the most famous are that there is no one center in the universe, that the Earth’s center is not the center of the universe, and that the center of the universe is near the sun.
These initial theories would move on through the centuries to be studied by other Catholic researchers who would bring forth many more conclusions in the newly developing fields of science. This is why Copernicus is known as the Father of Science.
In later centuries both Kepler and Galileo would build their own research on principles and theories of Copernicus.
“Faith and science, far from being opposed to one another, have been intertwined with one another for years,” says Father Spitzer. “Science may use different methods, different aspects, but they are not against each other. If anything, there is a consolidation in theology and spirituality. There is a sense of mystery that lies at the core of our being.”
Father Spitzer told the story of another great scientist, priest, astronomer and physicist who lived closer to our own time.
Msgr. Georges Lemaitre was born in Belgium in 1894 and died there in 1966. He was credited for being the first scientist to propose the idea of a universe that expands across time and space. This is also known as the Big Bang theory.
A contemporary of Albert Einstein, they knew each other’s work well. Einstein initially thought of Father Lemaitre’s work as possible but unfinished telling him, “Your math is correct, but your physics is abominable.” It took several more years before Einstein concluded that Father Lemaitre’s work was sound. On his deathbed, he learned that his theories had been given further evidence when he was told cosmic microwave background radiation had been discovered.
“All scientific data must come from the realm of observation,” says Father Spitzer. “When you make an observation, you can’t know everything about it. You don’t know everything you need to know, so science must stay humble and open.”
“We are only approaching this at the beginning,” he says. “There is good confluence today of faith and science.”
Father Spitzer is currently president of Magis Center whose mission is to restore, reconstruct and revitalize belief in God and the transcendent dignity of every human person. See his website http://www.magiscenter.org for more details.
Father Robert Spitzer, SJ, who is blind, speaks at Iowa State University Sept. 25. (Photo by Sue Stanton)