SCIENCE AND FAITH IN HARMONY: “THE HEAVENS DECLARE THE GLORY OF GOD”
Anton M. Koekemoer, PhD, BSc
Hubble Astronomer, Space Telescope Science Institute
An MSMC Library Week Event
This event is co-sponsored by CDI, the Kaplan Family Library, and the Division of Natural Sciences. This is a College Connection FYE event.
Modern astronomical discoveries reveal ever more amazing views of our universe, unveiling beautiful nebulae, immense star clusters, colliding galaxies, and countless other wonders. As we advance our knowledge about the universe, its immense distances and timescales reach the limits of what we can grasp, and can lead us to wonder about the ultimate significance of humanity. While science is focused on explaining the physical processes observed in the universe, deeper questions such as the meaning of our existence may be considered from the perspective of religion; and we each arrive at our own individual understanding of these questions. Considering the wonders of the universe, we can appreciate how the Psalmist was inspired to write: "the heavens declare the glory of God, and the skies proclaim His handiwork" (Ps. 19:1); the scriptures also exclaim: "what is humankind, that Thou art mindful of us?" (Ps. 8:4). Yet the scriptures also reveal how precious we all are to God, as well as His eternal love and salvation for each of us individually. In this talk, research astrophysicist Dr. Anton M. Koekemoer highlights some of the exciting astronomical discoveries about our universe, including distant galaxies, black holes, giant clouds of star formation, and other discoveries revealed by the Hubble Space Telescope and other observatories. He also presents the Hubble images that were used in the beautiful illustrations in the Saint John’s Bible, and shares some personal reflections, from his own perspective as a Christian, on how our current scientific understanding of this wonderful universe can be reconciled in harmony with religion, for those who are of faith, to enrich our spiritual lives and our relationship with God, and deepen our appreciation of the universe in which we live.
About the speaker
Anton KoekemoerDr. Anton M. Koekemoer is a research astrophysicist with the Hubble Space Telescope at the Space Telescope Science Institute, and has been on its scientific staff for almost 20 years. He has also held research positions at Leiden University, at the Institut d'Astrophysique de Paris, and at NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center, and was in charge of one of the imaging cameras on the Hubble Space Telescope for several years. His main research interests include the formation and growth of galaxies and black holes in the early universe and across cosmic time. He has authored/coauthored over 450 astrophysics research papers in refereed scientific journals, in addition to other papers and conference proceedings, has edited several astrophysics conferences and books, and he was recently ranked by Thomson-Reuters among the world’s highest impact scientists of the past decade in astronomy and astrophysics. He has led the Hubble imaging work for large cosmological projects such as the Hubble Ultra Deep Field, and is continuing active research on several more recent and ongoing large projects with Hubble. He is also a committed Christian whose faith plays a central role in his life, and he considers the universe to be one of the ways in which God has chosen to reveal His glory to humankind, so that it is possible for our Christian faith to be reconciled in harmony with our scientific understanding of the universe.