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Vatican astronomers' book uses humor to explore faith, science


This is the cover of "'Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? ... and Other Questions From the Astronomers' Inbox at the Vatican Observatory" by Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno and Jesuit Father Paul Mueller. The book is reviewed by Regina Lordan. (CNS)

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"Would You Baptize an Extraterrestrial? ... and Other Questions From the Astronomers' Inbox at the Vatican Observatory" by Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno and Jesuit Father Paul Mueller. Image (New York, 2014). 293 pp., $25.

As members of the research staff at the Vatican Observatory, Jesuit Brother Guy Consolmagno and Jesuit Father Paul Mueller are asked a lot of questions related to science and faith.

But a select number are asked repeatedly: What was the star of Bethlehem, how did the universe begin and how will it end, what really happened to prompt Galileo Galilei's entanglement with the church, and another particularly quirky one inspiring the title of the book -- "Would you baptize an extraterrestrial?"

Written in dialogue form as a nod to the famous astronomer Galileo, the book is a conversation between Brother Consolmagno, the scientist and researcher, and Father Mueller, the historian of science and philosopher. The 12-point questions help frame an overall larger discussion about the relationship between religion and science. Within the answers to each question, Brother Consolmagno and Father Mueller show the reader that science and religion must continue to have "conversations" to help satisfy the human desire to problem-solve and discover how the universe works.

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