Science, faith are a perfect fit in Jesuit’s life

Jesuits have a long tradition in science and there’s a good reason for that, says Jesuit lichenologist and ecologist Fr. John McCarthy.

The better we know God’s creation, he believes, the better we know God.

“I still feel there’s a real need for Jesuits and just people of faith in science,” McCarthy told a gathering at Toronto’s Regis College March 21.

“To be active witnesses to the beauty of science.”

Fr. John McCarthy, in his lecture at Regis College March 21, displays a tree core sample he found in New Brunswick that handily demonstrates the Jesuit principle of finding God in all things. McCarthy is a lichenologist and ecologist who also is chaplain at the University of British Columbia.

From the first use of the decimal point to the discovery of Peking Man; from the first medical use of quinine to cataloguing 933 species of ants Jesuits have spent the last 478 years advancing human knowledge.

Popular notions that either the Church or religion in general are opposed to science are a mostly 19th-century misconception born out of the rather crude philosophy of logical positivism, according to McCarthy. But the error persists in our time in the form of empty debates over the aggressively anti-religious views of so-called “new atheists” such as Richard Dawkins.

Dawkins made the front cover of Time magazine in November of 2006 by debating the Christian head of the Human Genome Project, Francis Collins, under a headline that read “God vs. Science.”

“That’s just absurd,” was McCarthy’s assessment of the Time article.

Jesuits Celebration of Science Contributions

McCarthy himself has had a distinguished career in science while also acting as a campus chaplain and parish priest at the University of British Columbia and helping to lead the Jesuits in English Canada as socius, or chief assistant, to the Jesuit provincial superior. In a back room of the Jesuit curia in Toronto, McCarthy keeps a couple of high-powered microscopes and related scientific equipment.

Scientific colleagues named one species of lichens, Acarospora maccarthyi, after him.

McCarthy has discovered and catalogued several species of lichens, including one discovered at the Ignatius Jesuit Centre in Guelph, Ont., which he named Cladonia ignatii.

McCarthy and the Cladonia ignatii - newly discovered lichen.

The author of two popular books about faith and science — Do Monkey’s Go To Heaven? and Do Monkey’s Go To Heaven 2.0? —McCarthy concedes Jesuits are not as prominent in science as they were a couple of generations ago. That’s largely a matter of overall numbers, with the Church’s largest male order declining from about 36,000 members in 1965 to fewer than 16,000 today, he said. 

Source: [ Catholic Register ]

Video: [ Fountain of Love and Life ]





Recent News

Father Larry Kroker died peacefully on October 6, 2019 at Rene Goupil House, Pickering. He was in his 80thth year and in religious life for 60 years. Larry took the gifts of Jesuit tradition and of the Exercises and offered them to the Indigenous people.

Fr. Gavin died peacefully on the morning of Oct. 6, 2019, at René Goupil House, Pickering. He was in his 85th year and in his 65th year of religious life. He wrote a lasting memorial - Vol. 1 in the Jesuit History Series, Teachers of a Nation – Jesuits in English Canada 1842-2013.

October 10, 2019 — On October 5, Michael Czerny, SJ, was created cardinal by Pope Francis, along with 12 others. We joined him last Tuesday in Rome via teleconference and asked him some questions – all of which came directly from his Canadian colleagues.

October 10, 2019 — The path between a lay life and the last Jesuit vows is very lengthy (approximately 13 to 20 years!). Gilles Mongeau, SJ, who helped evaluate this process within the Jesuit Conference of Canada and the United States, details how the five steps of Jesuit formation will tangibly change.

October 4, 2019 — The Secretariat for Social Justice and Ecology has just released the new issue of its journal Promotio Iustititiae (PJ), which focuses on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and on Integral Ecology.

October 4, 2019 — The federal election campaign in Canada is in full swing. On October 21, citizens will have to choose between various platforms. This is why the Justice, Reconciliation and Ecology Commission of the Jesuit Province of Canada has prepared a document to encourage discernment and action.

October 4, 2019 — For Women's History Month, let’s look at two examples of strong women who were close to the Jesuits and who were active in the success of their mission.

view all news

Search news

Publications

Campion's Brag

Relations Mai 2019

Canadian Jesuits



Manresa Jesuit Renewal Centre
Since 1946, Manresa has welcomed retreatants to grow closer to God on 21 beautiful acres in ...