Beatified Scientist Bishop Honored by Google

If you head over to today, you’ll note that today’s “doodle” honors Nicholas Steno, the 17th century scientist who made major contributions to anatomy and to geology — so much so that he is often called the “Father of Geology”. Steno’s studies helped to show that geological features were best understood as the record of sediments being laid down in the past, and then later moved up and down by the motion of the Earth’s crust. Steno helped establish that the Earth’s geology was not static, but was rather a record of a long and dynamic history.  More than just a scientist, though, Steno was also a convert to Catholicism, ordained a bishop, and so noted for his piety that he was beatified in 1988. Steno’s life shows that, even in the era of supposed Church intolerance of science, orthodox Catholic churchmen were not only contributing to science, they were doing so in precisely the areas where there is supposed to be an intractable conflict between science and faith. The earliest evidence for the ancient age of the world naturally aroused suspicion and resistance among intellectuals both within the Church and without, and rightly so, given that the scientific picture thus presented was revolutionary. Yet it was not resistance to the Church, but rather the work of Steno and others like him who advanced science from within the Church, that led to the development of our modern picture of the world’s history. The life of Steno shows that there can be a union between the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the pursuit of sanctity.

One comment on “Beatified Scientist Bishop Honored by Google

  1. [...] piece in The Deeps of Time blog has links to the Google video clip and article describing why Google decided to single Steno out [...]