On 22 May 1868, John Henry Newman wrote a letter to the canon J. Walker, an acquaintance, in which he mentioned that the theory of biological evolution was not opposed to Christian faith in a Creator. He wrote: “I do not fear the theory… It does not seem to me to follow that creation is denied because the Creator, millions of years ago, gave laws to matter. He first created matter and then he created laws for it — laws which should construct it into its present wonderful beauty, and accurate adjustment and harmony of parts gradually. We do not deny or circumscribe the Creator, because we hold he has created the self acting originating human mind, which has almost a creative gift; much less then do we deny or circumscribe His power, if we hold that He gave matter such laws as by their blind instrumentality molded and constructed through innumerable ages the world as we see it.”
On 25 March 1655, the Dutch astronomer Christiaan Huygens discovered Titan, the first known moon of Saturn. It is the only natural satellite known to have a dense atmosphere. Titan is primarily composed of water ice and rocky material.
The colorful globe of Saturn’s largest moon, Titan, passes in front of the planet and its rings in this true color snapshot from NASA’s Cassini spacecraft taken on May 21, 2011 and released on Dec. 22.
On 06 February 2013, Pope Benedict XVI dedicated one of his last audiences to the topic of creation:
“But our question today is: in the age of science and technology, does it still make sense to speak of creation? How should we understand the Genesis narratives? The Bible is not intended as a natural science manual; its intention instead is to teach us the authentic and profound truth of things. The fundamental truth that the Genesis stories reveal to us is that the world is not a collection of contrasting forces, but has its origin and its stability in the Logos, in God’s eternal Reason, who continues to sustain the universe. There is a plan for the world that arises from this Reason, from the creating Spirit. Believing that such a reality is behind all this, illuminates every aspect of life and gives us the courage to face the adventure of life with confidence and hope.”
On 8 March 1618, Johannes Kepler, in his work Mysterium Cosmographicum (in the 2nd edition, 1621), indicated today’s date as the date that marks the discovery of the third law of planetary motion. In his own words:
“Found the true intervals of the orbs, thanks to the observations of Tycho Brahe, after many continuous work sessions (Latin: “plurimi temporis labore continuo”). Finally found the genuine proportions of the periodic cycles of the planets in terms of the dimensions of their orbits . . . . If you were to ask me, it was March 8, 1618. However, the calculations gave me unfruitful results, and therefore I rejected them as false. In the end, taking up the endeavor again on May 15, light overcame darkness in my mind (Latin: novo capto impetu expugnavit mentis meae tenebras). The convergence between the observations of Tycho Brahe over seventeen years and my own elucidations were such that at the beginning I thought I had been dreaming and had engaged in circular reasoning. But it is absolutely true and accurate that the relation between the periods of any given two planets is in exact proportion to the power of 3/2 of the two distances” (Lib. V, cap. III).
In mathematical terms, if P₁ and P₂ are the periods of revolution around the sun of any two planets, and a₁ and a₂ are the larger axes of their orbits, the law finds that the ratio of the squares of the periods (P₁)² / (P₂)² is equal to the ratio of the cubes of the axes (a₁)³ / (a₂)³.
Pope Francis met on 26 June 2014 the professors and students of the Summer Course organized by the Vatican Observatory on the theme “Galaxies: Near and Far, Young and Old”.
“The Vatican Observatory School in Astrophysics is thus a place where young people the world over can engage in dialogue and collaboration, helping one another in the search for truth, which in this case is concretized in the study of galaxies. This simple and practical initiative shows how the sciences can be a fitting and effective means for promoting peace and justice. Here too we see a further reason for the Church’s commitment to dialogue with the sciences on the basis of the light provided by faith: it is her conviction that faith is capable of both expanding and enriching the horizons of reason (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 238). In this dialogue, the Church rejoices in the marvelous progress of science, seeing it as a sign of the enormous God-given potential of the human mind (cf. ibid, 243), even as a mother rejoices and is rightly proud as her children grow “in wisdom, and age and grace” (Lk 2:52). Finally, I would also encourage you to share with people in your own countries the knowledge about the universe which you have acquired. Only a fraction of the global population has access to such knowledge, which opens the heart and the mind to the great questions which human beings have always asked: Where do we come from? Where are we going? Does this universe made up of hundreds of millions of galaxies have any meaning? … The search for an answer to these questions can lead us to an encounter with the Creator, the loving Father, for “in him we live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:28).”
On 11 June 2016, Pope Francis said to the summer course participants at the Vatican Observatory:
“God’s creation, and our own place in it, is shared by men and women of very diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. All of us dwell under the same sky. All of us are moved by the beauty revealed in the cosmos and reflected in the study of the heavenly bodies and substances. In this sense, we are united by the desire to discover the truth about how this marvellous universe operates; and in this, we draw ever closer to the Creator.”
He also mentioned hardship and joy that we can find in the daily work as scientists:
“Dear brothers and sisters, scientific research demands great commitment, yet can sometimes prove lengthy and tiresome. At the same time, it can, and should be, a source of deep joy. I pray that you will be able to cultivate that interior joy and allow it to inspire your work. Share it with your friends, your families and your nations, as well as with the international community of scientists with whom you work. May you always find joy in your research and share the fruit of your studies with humility and fraternity.”
“Does Scripture contradict [Darwin’s] theory?—was Adam not immediately taken from the dust of the earth? ‘All are of dust’ —Eccles 3:20 — yet we never were dust — we are from fathers. Why may not the same be the case with Adam? … I don’t know why Adam needs be immediately out of dust — Formavit Deus hominem de limo terrae [God formed man from the dust of the earth]—i.e. out of what really was dust and mud in nature, before He made it what it was, living.”
— John Henry Newman (1801–1890), English Cardinal and theologian.
Letter to Edward Bouverie Pusey (1800–1882), Birmingham Oratory (5 June 1870).