Faith and the Expanding Universe of Georges Lemaître

Georges Lemaître (right)
Georges Lemaître (right)
  • Article
  • 5000 words
  • Level: high school and above

This 2019 article is unique in that it is an article about a Catholic scientist, written by a Catholic scientist and published in a Catholic journal. The article is about Fr. George Lemaître, the inventor of the Big Bang theory. The writer is Jonathan Lunine, the David C. Duncan Professor in the Physical Sciences at Cornell University, director of the Cornell Center for Astrophysics and Planetary Science, and vice president of the Society of Catholic Scientists. The journal is the University of Notre Dame’s Church Life Journal. Lunine writes that

On October 29th of 2018, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) voted to recommend renaming Hubble’s Law the “Hubble-Lemaître Law.” That such a vote would take place today—during a time when science and faith are portrayed in the media as implacable foes—speaks to the remarkable character of Lemaître himself, the Belgian monsignor and astronomer who made a number of fundamental contributions to the science of cosmic structure and origins. His dual career as priest and scientist puzzled many in science and in the public at large when he was alive, and his struggles to defend his “Big Bang” model of the origin of the universe against those who accused him of being religiously motivated epitomizes the growing tension between science and organized religion in post-war Europe and the US.

Lunine discusses Lemaître’s life and work, focusing on how the omission of a paragraph from a translation of one of his papers contributed to his being overlooked for decades. Lunine also comments on a possible Augustinian influence on Lemaître.

Click here to access this article from Church Life Journal.