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Ernest Rutherford won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1908 and was the father of subatomic physics. His religious affiliation is not known but he was a member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences.

Yes, you read that right, Pontifical (as in the Pope) and Science in the same title. That is because, contrary to the widely held mistaken belief, the Catholic Church encourages the scientific exploration of this world and the universe. Yes, way.

Members of the Academy are selected based on their achievements and their promise for further achievements in all the fields of scientific endeavour. Stephen Hawking is a member. He may not believe in God but God’s earthly administrators honour and believe in him.

The man who made the first steps in cracking the genetic code of all living things, Gregor Mendel, was an Augustinian monk. His work was encouraged, nurtured and celebrated by his belief.

Want to know what day it is? Look at the calendar. The Gregorian Calendar. It was commissioned by Pope Gregory XIII to correct a growing problem with the Julian Calendar. Every 128 years the Julian calendar moved one day more out of synch with the orbit of the earth.

Christopher Clavius, a Jesuit, did the heavy lifting in terms of working out the mathematics and astronomical proofs to build the new calendar. You can argue with a Jesuit if you’d like: go ahead, I’ll stand by with the towel. In the end, however, I doubt you could convince him he was engaged in anything other than work that glorified God.

you guessed it, here’s de nile…

Interesting side note about the Gregorian Calendar. It was adopted by most of Europe (okay, the Catholic parts) in 1582 and required the erasing of 10 days in that year. The people went to sleep on October 4 and woke up on October 15.

England and her empire refused to accept this Papist nonsense for another 200 years.

Got a bit of an infection? Sir Alexander Fleming, the discoverer of Penicillin from which a substantial number of modern antibiotics are derived, was Catholic. He looked into the microscopic world in which we live to better understand the marvels of this life. He did not feel his faith was in any way a hinderance to belief in microbes. Don’t be ridiculous.

So, next time you see a movie or read a book or hear someone spouting off about how the Inquisition will come breaking down their doors for daring to look into the building blocks of our universe think about this and laugh. The research is partially funded by, encouraged and celebrated by that very church accused of stifling knowledge.

Because, basically, this is all part of the God Particle.