Questions about the cosmos can be investigated using faith and reason

March 21, 2012

CosmosLisle, Illinois ~ Since man first looked to the stars, he has wondered about the nature of the universe, its origins, how it functions, and how understanding the universe impacts how man sees himself in the whole of the cosmos.

Benedictine University espouses the belief that religion and science – or faith and reason – do not exist at polar ends of the intellectual spectrum, but rather are both central to answering these time-old questions.

The fifth annual Faith and Reason Symposium, "In the Beginning God…Faith, Reason, the Cosmos and Humanity" is designed to create a dialogue between faith and science on how we view the cosmos and how that understanding impacts how we understand God and each other.

The symposium, which is sponsored by the Center for Mission and Identity, the Abbey Endowment Fund and the Global Studies Forum at Benedictine University, will be held in the Presentation Room of the Krasa Student Center from 9:00 a.m.-3:30 p.m. on Friday, April 13.

"We are addressing two fundamental questions during the symposium," said Vince Gaddis, Ph.D., professor of History at Benedictine University. "First, how does scientific inquiry inform our theological assumptions about the universe and visa versa, and second, does our increasing base of scientific knowledge move God out of what we see when we look 'up there?'"

The symposium begins with a continental breakfast and registration from 8:00-9:00 a.m., and will include two panel discussions and a keynote speaker.

The first panel will meet from 9:00-11:30 a.m. and will address the topic, "The Science of Cosmology." Panelists include Benedictine faculty members Alfred Martin, Ph.D. (Biology), Tim Marin, Ph.D. (Chemistry), Elizabeth Freeland, Ph.D. (Physics) and Patrick Flynn, Ph.D. (Philosophy).

The second panel will meet from 1:30-3:00 p.m. and will address the topic, "Cosmology and Humanity." Panelists include Benedictine faculty members Christine Fletcher, Ph.D. (Theology), Jean-Marie Kauth, Ph.D. (Language and Literature) and Sr. Karen Nykiel, O.S.B. (Religious Studies), and special guest speaker Fr. William Stoeger, S.J.

Fr. Stoeger, a staff scientist for the Vatican Observatory Research Group in Tucson, Ariz., will also present "Big Bang Cosmology and Divine Creation: Are They Compatible?" during lunch from 11:30 a.m.-12:45 p.m.

A specialist in theoretical cosmology, high-energy astrophysics and interdisciplinary studies relating to science, philosophy and theology, Fr. Stoeger has been active in lecturing and teaching at the University of Arizona, the University of San Francisco and at Vatican Observatory Summer Schools. He is a member of the American Physical Society, the American Astronomical Society and the Society for General Relativity and Gravitation.

The symposium is free and open to the public.

For more information about the symposium, contact Cathy Gaddis at (630) 829-6230 or


Benedictine University is an independent Roman Catholic institution located in Lisle, Illinois just 25 miles west of Chicago, and has branch campuses in Springfield, Illinois and Mesa, Arizona. Founded in 1887, Benedictine provides 55 undergraduate majors and 15 graduate and four doctoral programs. Benedictine University is ranked No. 1 among the country's fastest-growing campuses between 2002-2012 in The Chronicle of Higher Education's list of private nonprofit doctoral institutions, and Forbes magazine named Benedictine among "America's Top Colleges" for the fourth consecutive year in 2014. Benedictine University's Master of Business Administration (M.B.A.) program is listed by Crain's Chicago Business as the sixth largest in the Chicago area in 2014.

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