The Jesuit director of the Vatican Observatory, who has worked as an astronomer and planetary scientist at the Vatican for more than 20 years, told journalists Monday that faith and reason are hardly at odds.

“If you have no faith in your faith, that is when you will fear science,” Brother Guy Consolmagno, S.J., said May 8.

He spoke to journalists at a press conference ahead of a May 9-12 summit on “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Space-Time Singularities” being held in Castel Gandolfo at the Vatican Observatory, just outside Rome.

“The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XIII to show that the Church supports good science, and to do that we have to have good science,” Br. Consolmagno said, explaining the reasoning behind the conference.

The hope is that the encounter will foster good science, good discussion, and even friendship. Among the speakers will be a Nobel Prize winner in physics and a Wolf Prize winner.

Among the topics of papers being presented at the conference are Strong evidence for an accelerating universe; Black hole perturbations: a review of recent analytical results; and Observing the Signature of Dynamical Space-Time through Gravitational Waves.

The summit is also taking place in recognition of Fr. Georges Lemaître, the Belgian physicist and mathematician who is widely credited with developing the “Big Bang” theory to explain the origin of the physical universe.

Addressing common misconceptions surrounding the Big Bang, such as the idea that it did away with the need for a creator, Br. Consolmagno said the solution isn’t just to put God at the beginning of things and call that good, either.

“The creative act of God is not something that happened 13.8 billion years ago,” he said. “God is already there before space and time exist. You can’t even say ‘before’ because he is outside of time and space.”

The creative act is happening continuously: “If you look at God as merely the thing that started the Big Bang, then you get a nature god, like Jupiter throwing around lightning bolts.”

“That’s not the God that we as Christians believe in,” he went on. “We must believe in a God that is supernatural. We then recognize God as the one responsible for the existence of the universe, and our science tells us how he did it.”

Br. Consolmagno commented that “God is not something we arrive at the end of our science, it’s what we assume at the beginning. I am afraid of a God who can be proved by science, because I know my science well enough to not trust it!”

“An atheist could assume something very different, and have a very different view of the universe, but we can talk and learn from each other. The search for truth unites us.”

Full story at Catholic News Agency.