(And Then I Wrote…)
Since this site began more than six years ago, every Thursday I have been publishing a reprint from my column “Across the Universe” in the British Catholic journal, The Tablet. I have finally gone through all of them (except for 2019’s columns) and I’ve even re-published a few of the oldest ones that came out here before our readership had grown.
In order to let my backlog build up a bit, I am taking “Across the Universe” offline for 2020. Instead, I am republishing a selection of other articles that I have written and published in various places… often obscure.
This article comes from The Planetarian, the magazine of the International Planetarium Society – the folks who run planetariums. It’s based on a talk I gave them in 2003, and ran in their March 2004 issue. Click HERE if you want to see the whole issue.
Here’s the blurb that introduces the article:
Presenting astronomy to the general public inevitably involves one in the ongoing discussion of science and religion; in particular, one is likely to encounter members of the public who fear that their strongly-held religious views are disrespected or attacked by modern science. To deal appropriately with such attitudes, it is important to know the history of the relationship between science and religion; to understand the source of anxiety among those in the public who are mistrustful of science; and to be aware of one’s own attitudes towards religion and how these may unintentionally color the way we present our material. A brief survey of the history of astronomy shows that there is no inherent conflict, and much commonality, between science and religion. However, people unfamiliar with science often fear it as a substitute or threat to their beliefs, a fear that is compounded when science is presented in a way that does not respect its philosophical and religious roots. One successful strategy is to present astronomy within a religious context, even to the point of discussing one’s own religious affiliation, and always emphasizing the humility that comes with admitting that one’s knowledge is ever incomplete.God Under the Dome