Today is the Feast of Saint Albert the Great. A native of Germany, the 13th century Dominican friar's academic career took him to Italy, France and Germany while his intellectual interests ranged from the natural science to theology. He was also the mentor of Saint Thomas Aquinas.
For many, Saint Albert's life and work are a reminder of the harmony that exists between faith, reason and science, as Carl Boehlert, professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Materials Science at Michigan State University and a deacon at Saint Martha parish in Okemos, now explains:
“I’m a deacon and an engineering professor, so every now and then someone will ask me how I do both. They seem to see a conflict between the two identities, but I do not.”
“It’s not a regular thing that religion comes up at work. I sometimes talk to Christian people here in the College of Engineering and sometimes we share a lot of the same thoughts. But I also discuss issues with other colleagues whose religious beliefs I don’t know. Our conversations are every bit as good and respectful — just different.
“I know scientists sometimes have a reputation of being atheists or nonbelievers. But in my experience, I don’t think science is in opposition to faith. Some of my colleagues are active members of my home parish, Saint Martha’s [in Okemos], and other Catholic parishes in the diocese. Several others practice different religions.”
“I think God speaks to us in many ways, including through others and through our world. When we spend time in prayer, we can strengthen our connection and ability to see what God wants us to do. I feel blessed that I can try to help people through both science and through religion and faith.”
“I’ve heard theology described as ‘faith seeking understanding’. I get to apply both scientific and religious principles to understanding our world and to helping people walk in the spectrum of God’s colorful light. Who can see a conflict in that?”
Saint Albert the Great, pray for us!
• First published November 15, 2021