December 20, 2019

‘Taking faith and science seriously’

By Natalie Hoefer

Paul Giesting of St. Mary of the Immaculate Parish in Rushville is passionate about dispelling the myth that faith and science are incompatible.

“There’s this flawed idea floating around in Western culture that religion and science are different things and you have to pick one or the other,” he says. “In the case of the Catholic faith, it’s absolutely not true.”

So in April 2018 Giesting, who has a doctorate in geological sciences from the University of Notre Dame, teamed up with his friend William Schmitt, a freelance writer and communications specialist in South Bend, Ind. The two created a podcast called “That’s So Second Millennium.”

“The name harks back to early in the second millennium when there was this great flow of Catholic and Christian intellectual thought that unified faith and science, and that we can do it again,” Giesting explains. “And also that the [fallacy] floating around from the 19th and 20th centuries that faith and science are not compatible should be left [in those centuries].”

In the podcasts, the two devout Catholics explore “the consequences if you take science and faith seriously,” according to the podcast’s Facebook page.

“We’ve done interviews with Christian and Catholic scientists and how that [combination] played out in their lives,” said Giesting.

One interview was with Catholic bio‑ethicist Maureen Condic. While working as an associate professor of neurobiology and anatomy at the University of Utah, she spoke out against embryonic stem‑cell research.

“That cost her a lot of friends,” Giesting noted.

Father John Hollowell has also been a guest on the podcast. He is pastor of Annunciation Parish in Brazil and St. Paul the Apostle Parish in Greencastle, where he also serves as chaplain for DePauw University’s Catholic students.

“He talks with students a lot,” noted Giesting. He said the priest mentioned how the idea of faith and science being separate “is endemic, that we exist in a renaissance environment where the idea is everywhere that faith is fading and worn out.”

Consequently, scientists tend to hide their faith and beliefs.

“You can go months and months without knowing anyone in science has faith at all,” says Giesting. “I interviewed one of my past professors and turns out she’s a very dedicated Christian. I never knew that.”

At the University of Notre Dame in June, he and Schmitt had the opportunity to interview for their podcast the Society of Catholic Scientists’ conference speakers.

“I just think it’s a great thing that the society is trying to increase more awareness among Catholic scientists,” said Giesting. “We’ve lost sight of the fact that science and faith can coexist and are both simultaneously true.”

(To listen to “That’s So Second Millennium” podcasts, go to


Related story: Gold Mass helps spread the word: ‘faith and science are compatible’

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