Neil deGrasse Tyson Explains How Science Is Indebted to the Catholic Church

The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, YouTube

This is nice to see!

I’m sure you’ve seen Neil deGrasse Tyson before: he’s an astrophysicist who’s also become a major celebrity, going on talk shows, speaking around the world, and in general promoting the importance of science.

Last week, Tyson was on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and a topic came up that you might not have expected: the debt that science, and astronomy in particular, has to the Catholic Church.

“It worked… we won,” Colbert says in response to Tyson saying that Christmas was a Christianized version of the pagan holiday Saturnalia (which is a highly disputed idea). When Tyson finally recovers from laughing, he starts talking about other “successes” of the Catholic Church.

“Just to be clear, you not only won there,” Tyson continues, “you won the calendar race, too. The world’s calendar is the Gregorian calendar after Pope Gregory put that into place in 1582. Because the previous Julian calendar was messing up. It was off by 10 days. And the Pope said we had to fix this.”

Tyson then talks about the importance of the Jesuit order in academia, science, and astronomy in particular, when Colbert brings up the fact that the Big Bang theory was first proposed by a Catholic Jesuit priest.

Tyson agrees and concludes, “So Catholics have been in there in multiple places.”

Here’s the full interview (they start talking about Catholicism around 3:33):

[See also: 10 Nobel Prize Winners on the Compatibility of Science and Faith]

[See also: Vatican’s Astronomer: There’s Never Been a Real Conflict Between Faith & Science]

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