About This Initiative from the Project Director
Giovanni di Paolo, The Creation and the Expulsion from Paradise, with “mappamondo” c. 1445. This extraordinary panel at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York City, is a fragment from the predella of an altarpiece painted for the church of San Domenico in Siena. At the left, God the Father, supported by 12 blue cherubim, flies downward, pointing with his right hand at a circular “mappamondo,” which fills the lower half of the scene. The representation of earth is surrounded by concentric circles, including a green ring (for water), a blue ring (for air), a red ring (for fire), the circles of the seven planets, and the circle of the Zodiac. On the right, in a separate scene set in a meadow filled with flowers, Adam and Eve walk to the right against a line of seven trees with golden fruit. Their heads turn back toward a naked angel, who expels them from Paradise. Below them spring the four rivers of Paradise, which extend to the base of the picture.
The impetus for this project is the impressive output of official Church documents (see our “documents” link for a sampling) including the many statements of Saint Pope John Paul II, and more recently those of Pope Francis, that strongly support a recovery and reintegration of science in the seminary intellectual formation program. It is true that the importance of scientific literacy in seminary formation is not a new insight in the Roman Catholic Church but it has gained substantial momentum since the Second Vatican Council (1962-1965).
The Planning Team involved in this project thinks this initiative offers seminaries the support needed to attain the vision that has already been set by the magisterium so that scientifically literate priests, conversant with the scientific method, the philosophy of science, a general scientific vocabulary, and a familiarity with the basic content of the physical sciences, would be able to read scientific articles with understanding, evaluate information with a sufficient knowledge base, and engage in dialogue on science topics with increasingly informed congregations.
The planning team consisting of Rev. Thomas M. Dragga, Rev. W. Shawn McKnight and Dr. Nicholas Santilli join me in encouraging you to explore this site for further details – and to email us with questions, comments or for more information. (See below for email addresses). The team is especially grateful for the invaluable assistance of Monsignor Jeremiah J. McCarthy and Reverend Richard M. Benson who helped guide this project to fruition.
We look forward to your participation in this endeavor that would allow Roman Catholic seminarians and clergy to engage the bigger questions of science that are naturally a part of theological inquiry and pertinent to contemporary Christians who live in a world deeply influenced, if not dominated, by science and technology.