When Pope Francis released his encyclical on the environment earlier this month, he faced some criticism from people who said religious leaders do not have the correct expertise to speak authoritatively about climate change.
Acclaimed astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson is not one of those people.
On Tuesday, the author and host of the late-night talk show StarTalk tweeted that despite being a religious figure, Pope Francis is more than qualified to talk about scientific issues. In a series of tweets, Tyson noted that the Vatican Observatory employs dozens of scientists who inform the pope on issues like climate change.
“Yes, it’s possible to be a supreme holy figure yet still know what you are talking about regarding the Climate,” he tweeted.
This isn’t the first time a scientist has spoken in defense of the pope. Independent climate scientists who reviewed the encyclical following its publication found little to argue with in terms of its scientific language.
During that review, Rutgers University professor of environmental sciences Anthony Broccoli said the Pope’s status as a religious leader had nothing to do with whether he could get the science correct.
“Pope Francis doesn’t have to be a scientist to arrive at these conclusions,” he told ThinkProgress at the time. “All he would have to do is consult the extensive reports on climate change that have been written by the world’s climate scientists in a process organized by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. These reports have been written to inform policymakers and stakeholders about the state of the science and they are a reliable source of information.”
Aside from having a cadre of scientists by his side, Pope Francis has his own science background, achieving a technician’s degree in chemistry before becoming a priest. Indeed, in his latest encyclical, Francis stressed that religion and science can enter into an “intense and productive dialogue with each other.”
Tyson seems to agree with that idea, too. Last year, while hosting the show Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey, Tyson drew attention for his implications that faith can help science blossom by producing “fantastic, world-changing ideas.“
Extracted from ThinkProgress On-Line