Jesuit Education Embraces Natural Science

As members of a Jesuit institution, the students and faculty of Seattle University have a unique opportunity to explore the interface between faith and reason.

Fr. Tom Lucas, S.J. will add his voice to the conversation next month with his lecture, “The Evolving Ecosystem of Jesuit Education,” which will be held on Feb. 2 from 4-5 p.m. in Sullivan Hall, room C-5.

As Rector of the Arrupe Jesuit Community and as a University Professor of Art and Art History, Lucas has lectured on Jesuit history, art and science at two dozen universities in eight countries. In the upcoming lecture he will examine the ever-changing nature of a Jesuit education, influential figures and their contribution, and the complex and sometimes contradictory intersection between religion and science.

“The main business of a university is to help people develop their minds, but also to develop their hearts, to develop their spirits, to listen to what the quiet voices inside of us are saying,” Lucas said. “In addition to the scientific method, there is the method of the heart. That isn’t to say one system totally replaces the other, but rather, these two paths, they may diverge, or they may converge.”

Sophomore Jorge Laborico believes that religion and science are part of the same quest for truth. Though he was raised in a Catholic family, he doesn’t consider himself a religious person. He stopped going to church with his parents the day he chose to embrace his own beliefs. He is currently studying both Environmental Studies and Mathematics. His choice to pursue a career in science was followed by some resistance from his family, Laborico said, but they showed no disrespect, only skepticism.

“You can have faith and you can also pursue a career or an interest in the sciences,” Laborico said. “The two can intermix. You’re seeking a truth. There’s a reason for our existence. Having that desire to find truth bleeds into all sorts of different academia.”
For Laborico and his family, science and religion often seem to clash rather than complement each other. But according to Lucas, Jesuit ideals will continue to thrive only if individuals from both sides of the divide are willing to participate in the conversation.

“What are the longings that we have besides success and beauty and fame? What are the real important things in life?” Lucas said. “This is a field of questioning, and that’s why the sciences have to be a part of that. We’ve tried most of the time, throughout our complicated history of Jesuit colleges and universities, to be in some way or another in dialogue with culture.”

In his lecture, Lucas said he will discuss key figures that played important roles in shaping Jesuit education as we see it today. These include Saint Ignatius of Loyola, Pierre Teilhard de Chardin, S.J., and Galileo Galilei. Each of them made a unique impact on how people view the world, Lucas said, and they all proved how important it is to remain connected with the world around us.

“Education is a process which by its very nature evolves,” Lucas said. “When I was in college, I had a manual typewriter. You now have the whole world on your phone.”

The Office of the Provost organized Lucas’ lecture, which has been involved in the Capital Campaign, a massive effort to raise $300 million to fund various aspects of Seattle U. According to Provost Isiaah Crawford, a third of the money will fund the ongoing construction of the Center for Science and Innovation, a third will buffer student scholarships and a third will support endowed professorships and other opportunities for Seattle U to make improvements.

“As an institution, we feel we need to help the country educate more people in these fields to help make sure that, as a nation, we continue to be competitive and that we can be on the forefront of science and innovation,” Crawford said. “With this great gift of an education, we need to do good in the world, we need to try to address the problems that confront society.”

Nick can be reached at
nturner@su-spectator.com.

↑ Back to top