Wow, it has already been a year since the first post on this series about religious scientists. In that year, we’ve looked at men and women who have contributed to astronomy and astrophysics, biology, chemistry, paleontology, computer science, meteoritics, medicine, and more.
My goal in starting the column was to highlight people who had religious vocations (priests, monks, sisters, brothers, etc.) who at the same time contributed to our scientific understanding of the natural world. These people serve as a sign to the world of the compatibility of faith and science.
I thought I would celebrate the completion of this year by taking a brief pause and looking back at the people discussed in previous posts. This also serves as an opportunity for you the reader to catch up on anyone that you may have missed.
- Fr. Angelo Secchi S.J.: Jesuit priest. He is one of the pioneers of astrophysics. He developed a spectral classification system for stars and was one of the leading solar physicists of his day.
- Abbot Gregor Mendel O.S.A.: Benedictine abbot. He is the “father of genetics,” who through research on pea plants developed principles for the heredity of traits.
- Msgr. Georges Lemaitre: Priest (monseigneur) of Leuven, Belgium. He was a theoretical astrophysicist who first proposed what became known as the Big Bang theory.
- Fr. Giuseppi Piazzi C.R.: Theatine priest. The director of the Palermo observatory discovered the first asteroid, Ceres.
- Abbess St. Hildegard of Bingen O.S.B.: Benedictine abbess. She studied plants and medicines, and compiled these observations and other knowledge in treatises on medicine.
- Fr. Domenico Troili S.J.: Jesuit priest. He documented the fall of the meteorite Albareto, collected specimens, and identified the mineral troilite that bears his name.
- Fr. Francesco Grimaldi S.J.: Jesuit priest. He made studies into the optics of diffraction, and mapped the lunar surface.
- Sr. Miriam Michael Stimson O.P.: Dominican sister. She studied the chemistry of DNA, unlocking clues to its structure.
- Fr. Roger Boscovich S.J.: Jesuit priest. He was the first to develop a plausible scientific theory of atomic structure, and he developed a method for computing the orbits of comets.
- Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller B.V.M.: Sister of Charity of the Blessed Virgin Mary. She was the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in Computer Science, and she helped develop the BASIC computer language.
- Fr. Pierre Teilhard de Chardin S.J.: Jesuit priest. He was a paleontologist and paleoanthropologist (and theologian) who participated in the discovery of Peking Man.
- Canon Nicolaus Copernicus: Canon of Warmia. He developed a heliocentric cosmological model in which the Earth orbits the Sun along with the other planets. He also made contributions to economics.
Looking ahead, there are many more religious scientists to discuss. While I have a few ideas of my own, I welcome suggestions from readers of the blog. Please post your suggestions in the comments.