Few individuals can claim to be experts in astrophysics. Even fewer can claim to be experts in forming men to become priests. Mundelein Seminary can claim both in the same person: our rector, Father John Kartje.
As the rare academic who has doctoral degrees in both science and sacred theology, Father Kartje brings decades of experience exploring faith and science and the ways each can inform the other, and how we as Christians can study our faith through a scientific lens.
His work as an astrophysicist required analyzing tiny bits of data and theorizing what happened during the earliest days of creation, but it also cultivated in him a scientist’s way of looking at the world — and faith — that has never waned. “There’s this whole wealth of information about how scientists think,” Father Kartje said. “No scientist goes out one day and just does one experiment and makes a conclusion about the universe. You collect data, you look for patterns. How to pose critical questions is a huge part of what science is. And the epistemology — the way you look at a problem, the kinds of questions you ask — has a lot to say about how we talk about faith as well.”
Though incredibly proud of being a priest, Father Kartje said he will always be a scientist at heart, too. “I’ve found that, in my priesthood, that approach to spirituality has been incredibly fruitful,” he said. “That’s more than just saying that faith and science can get along. It’s saying that science has a lot to contribute to faith and how we pose and hone the questions of faith. How do you phrase it, and how do you shape it and hone it, and how do you realize that how you’ve put it may be too vague or not useful?”
Uniquely qualified in both spheres, Father Kartje helped secure a $10,000 grant from the Templeton Foundation earlier this year to develop a seminary course titled “Fundamentals of Science at the Foundations of Faith.” In addition to this seminary course, Father Kartje regularly presents lectures on faith and science throughout the Archdiocese of Chicago and recently presented a public lecture at the Adler Planetarium entitled “Faith and Science: You Can’t Have One Without the Other.”
The full video presentation is available below.