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Sunday, 4 September 2011

The Catholic priest praised by Einstein for explaining the universe

Mgr George Lemaître, the Catholic priest and physicist, was told by Einstein "Your calculations are correct, but your grasp of physics is abominable!" when he proposed his theory of a homogeneous Universe of constant mass and growing radius accounting for the radial velocity of extragalactic nebulae. The observations of Lemaître gave rise to the understanding of the universe as having a beginning in what is now known generally as the big bang.

Lemaître features in the CTS booklet by Fr Marcus Holden and Fr Andrew Pinsent, Lumen. The Catholic Gift to Civilisation which I wrote about back in March (see: Practical apologetics in the English context)

The Reluctant Sinner has written a post with more about Mgr Lemaître. Apparently, a few years later, Lemaître and Einstein were touring California together for a series of seminars and this time, when the priest explained his theory, Einstein said
"This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened."
The Reluctant Sinner quite properly points to the importance of Catholic contributions to scientific endeavour. We should not be surprised at this, since the perennial philosophy espoused by the Catholic Church provides the very basis for science to be conducted at all. The list of great Catholic scientists given in Lumen is not a coincidence.
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