Former Director of Vatican Observatory to Address Science vs. Religion

(Cazenovia, NY – March 2013Coyne) A Jesuit priest and astronomy scholar who served as head of the Vatican Observatory will offer his perspectives on how science and religion can be reconciled when he presents the next Cazenovia Forum lecture, scheduled for Friday, March 22, at 7 p.m. at Cazenovia College’s Catherine Cummings Theatre on Lincklaen Street.

Father George V. Coyne S.J., the McDevitt Distinguished Chair in Religious Philosophy at Le Moyne College, will present the lecture “Evolution and the Science-Religion Debate in Modern America,” drawing on his decades of experience as a priest and scientist to “discuss how important it is to respect the richness of both religious faith and of scientific research.”

Coyne holds a doctorate in astronomy from Georgetown University, as well as a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Fordham University and a licentiate in philosophy from Georgetown. After several decades on the faculty at the University of Arizona, he became director of the Vatican Observatory in 1978, a position he held until 2006 while also serving as associate director of the Steward Observatory at UA.

He became the founding director of the Vatican Observatory Foundation in 1986.

“Ever since Charles Darwin first proposed that all life forms have come to be through a natural process of evolution, a debate has raged about the threat that such a scientific explanation might pose for religious belief,” said Coyne. “Within the past decade within the educational, political and religious cultures in the United States has presented us with a direct and basic confrontation between science and religion.”

Coyne is a member of the International Astronomical Union, the American Astronomical Society, the Astronomical Society of the Pacific, the American Physical Society and the Optical Society of America. He has received numerous honorary degrees and was awarded the Mendel Medal by Villanova University in September 2008 and the George Van Biesbroeck Prize by the American Astronomical Society in January 2010.

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