Fr. David A. Brown, S.J., an Astronomer at the Vatican Observatory in Rome with a Ph.D in Astrophysics from the University of Oxford, spoke to the Jesuit High School student body at Convocation on Friday (Nov. 30).
Fr. Brown spoke about the intersection of religion and science, and his work both in Rome and in Arizona, where he spends half the year working with the Vatican Advanced Technology Telescope (VATT), a Gregorian telescope on Mount Graham in southeast Arizona.
Fr. Brown also guest lectured in five classes in science and theology, including the senior theology classes and physics classes.
“Science and faith are not in conflict but in harmony,” Fr. Brown said. “The order of nature and grace are not opposed but in harmony.”
Born in New Orleans, Fr. Brown entered the Society of Jesus in 1991. He earned his Master of Divinity in 2002 from the Weston Jesuit School of Theology in Cambridge, Mass., and was ordained that year. In 2008, he earned his Ph.D from Oxford and was assigned to work at the Vatican Observatory.
“If the universe popped into existence for no rhyme or reason, then why are there laws of science, and why can we make sense of things? Everything makes sense because He made it that way, and human beings can make sense out of it. It makes sense, it is reasonable, and we are reasonable beings, we have the capacity for reason.”
A researcher in the field of stellar evolution, Fr. Brown’s work is primarily concerned with the study of horizontal branch stars, including subdwarf B (sdB) stars. The research studies the formation mechanisms of such stellar objects in different environments, including in the Galactic field, open and globular clusters, and elliptical galaxies, and it encompasses many disciplines, including binary star interactions, cluster studies, and galaxy evolution (the UV-upturn).
More recently, he has studied pulsating sdB stars (asteroseismology) from an observational standpoint, using the VATT in Arizona.
Please see below a video of Fr. Brown’s Convocation presentation, and a photo slideshow: