Having recently finished Mary Doria Russell’s The Sparrow, a near-future science fiction novel about Jesuits making first contact with an alien civilization, I was interested to read this interview with the Vatican’s (Jesuit) chief astronomer. Steve Fuller ought to be particularly happy with this answer, essentially the same argument Fuller made in defense of Intelligent Design Theory as science:
Q: Does God get in the way of doing good astronomy?
A: Just the opposite. He is the reason we do astronomy. I would say that is true even if you don’t believe in God. We do it first of all because we can, because the universe acts according to laws. That is a religious idea. The Romans, on the other hand, believed in nature gods that intervene according to whim—but if you believe in that you can’t be a scientist. Believing in a supernatural god is different.
You also have to believe that the universe is real and not an illusion. You have to believe that the universe is so good that it is worth spending your life studying it, even if you don’t become rich or famous. That sense that gets you up every morning is the presence of God.