On Friday, December 16, the paper published ‘Can science explain the mystery of the Star of Bethlehem?’ on their op-ed page. Br Guy Consolmagno SJ, the author, is the director of the Specola Vaticana, the astronomical observatory of the Vatican City state.
(Photo credit: Wikipedia)
We liked this for two reasons. One, it shows you can be religious and scientific:
At the Vatican Observatory, our work is the same as any other astronomical observatory. We take new data about things in space and try to devise explanations for how they behave. But we’re interested in the Star of Bethlehem for the same reason that everyone else is: it’s a fun mystery, a place where science and hope intersect.
Two, Br Guy goes through all the theories. Some you might like, some you might not. I did not agree with everything he had to say.
Regardless, his article will make you think more about the Star of Bethlehem, especially as he concludes (emphases mine):
Actually, to me the most astonishing part of the story of the Magi is not that they would predict the birth of a king from the positions of the planets; any fortune teller could have done that kind of calculation. Nor is it that they’d pull up roots and travel afar to find out if they were right; we astronomers do that all the time. Instead, it’s that they would be able and willing to recognise the king they were seeking in the child they found in a manger.
I thought a lot about that over Christmas. We still have time to ponder it, as Epiphany isn’t until January 6.