On Monday, it was confirmed that the Trump administration was dismissing half of the scientific experts who advise the Environmental Protection Agency. The move, an extreme attack on science and reason, was the just the latest salvo in the President’s war on science.

Meanwhile, the Vatican is hosting a summit this week entitled “Black Holes, Gravitational Waves, and Space-Time Singularities” in the Vatican Observatory. The summit honors the work of Father Georges Lemaître, who was one of the early developers of the “Big Bang” theory, and will feature speakers like Nobel Prize winner Arno Penzias. Penzias was one of the scientists credited with discovering cosmic microwave background radiation, which helped confirmed the Big Bang.

Brother Guy Consolmagno, the head of the Vatican Observatory, says that fear drives a disbelief in science:

“If you have no faith in your faith, that is when you will fear science.”

Members of the Trump administration do indeed seem to fear science. Secretary of Housing and Urban Development Ben Carson criticized “highfalutin scientists” that tout the Big Bang Theory and implied that Charles Darwin’s work was inspired by Satan. Speaking at a conference in 2012, Carson said:

“I personally believe that this theory that Darwin came up with was something that was encouraged by the adversary, and it has become what is scientifically, politically correct.”

Conversely, the Vatican Observatory is celebrating Father Lemaître’s “primeval atom” theory, which has now become known as the Big Bang Theory. In a press release, the Observatory said that Lemaître “understood that looking backward in time, the universe should have been originally in a state of high energy density, compressed to a point like an original atom from which everything started.”

Of course, this is not the first time the Vatican under the leadership of Pope Francis has taken a forward-looking approach to science. In 2015, the Pope gathered a group of scientists and religious leaders to discuss the dangers of climate change. That meeting also featured a Nobel Prize-winning scientist, Paul Crutzen, as well as world leaders like Secretary-General of the UN Ban Ki-moon.

Later that year, 195 countries negotiated the Paris Agreement, which laid out a plan to reduce greenhouse gasses. The BBC reported at the time that Pope Francis may have even called the president of Nicaragua to get the deal done.

Now, the Paris Agreement is in danger of losing one of its key participants, the United States. During the campaign, Donald Trump said that he would “cancel” the United States’ participation in the agreement. Steve Bannon, Trump’s chief strategist, as well as EPA administrator Scott Pruitt are continuing to pressure the President to withdraw. However, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Trump’s daughter Ivanka are attempting to sway the President toward continuing America’s involvement in the deal. Trump is set to make a decision on the deal sometime after the G7 meeting in Sicily later this month.

While Trump and other Republicans are busy trying to disprove science using God as an excuse, the Vatican is trying to better the understanding of both science and religion.

For some Republicans, a denial of science comes from sheer greed. However, others have trouble finding a way to align their religious beliefs with the prevailing science that is available. But, Brother Consolmagno draws parallels in both religious faith and scientific research:

“Those of us that are religious will recognize the presence of God, but you don’t have to make a theological leap to search for the truth. There are many things we know we do not understand. We cannot be good religious people or scientists if we think that our work is done.”

In lighter terms, Consolmagno told a great corny joke:

“Stephen Hawking said that he can explain God as a fluctuation in the primordial gravity field. If you buy that, it means God is gravity…maybe that’s why Catholics celebrate Mass!”

 

Josh Gay is a political writer for the Ring of Fire Network. He is passionate about civil liberties and defending the Constitution. Josh looks forward to lively discussions via Twitter @ROF_Josh.