By EmmaLee Italia | Contributing Editor
The origins of the universe will be the topic of a courtroom-style presentation on Oct. 24 at 7 p.m. in the spiritual center of St. Paul Parish, Princeton.
Entitled “The Splendor of the Universe: A Synthesis of Science and Belief,” the talk will be led by Pete Bernot and Bob Konzelmann, parishioners of St. Veronica, Howell. Their goal is simple: to use nature to prove the existence of God and to “fortify your faith with science and logic.”
Bernot, a semi-retired chemist, and Konzelmann, a practicing lawyer, will use their backgrounds in science and law to lead the audience through a mock courtroom trial format, with the audience acting as jury. Bernot will provide a scientific overview of the origin of the universe, describing the gravitational and magnetic forces at play, while Konzelmann will try to reduce his explanations to simpler terms a jury could understand.
The presentation, part one in a five-part series, came about as a result of multiple discussions with the duo’s pastors, both current and former, as well as their grown children and other men from St. Veronica’s men’s groups. The other four talks are titled “The Origin of Life,” “Homo-sapiens and the Gift of Self Awareness,” “The Authenticity of the Bible as the Word of God” and “The Historical Jesus and Proof of His Resurrection.”
“Regarding Catholic education in secondary schools and universities,” Bernot explained, “Bob and I felt there might be opportunities where we could augment the efforts of these schools by presenting an entertaining and scientifically rigorous examination of natural theology, through a series of presentations structured around a courtroom-like exchange with a focus on the circumstantial evidence for a Creator.”
After offering various portions of their talk to the men’s group, Bernot and Konzelmann have begun to make their courtroom drama available in other diocesan venues. While originally envisioning their program for a high school audience, they can easily adjust the content to suit adult audiences as well. They have also tested their format at the youth track of this year’s rally of Catholic Men for Jesus Christ.
“Those efforts were well received, and we decided to pursue a wider audience,” Bernot continued. “We reached out to the diocesan community earlier this year, and received warm encouragement and support from Father Gabriel Zeiss [diocesan vicar for the Office of Catholic Education], and welcoming response from St. Paul Parish.”
In the long tradition of Catholic theology, Bernot noted, science and theology have “rarely been inimical … We are looking to make that fact evident in the first two parts of our program and at the same time provide the audience with scientific facts to ponder … and to discuss with others of faith and no faith. We hope our examination of the macro- and micro-universe will acknowledge the existence of God based on observed facts and experiences, and lead one to conclude that nature adds to the inspiring story of divine revelations.”
The presentation is free and open to all, and light refreshments will be served. St. Paul’s spiritual center is located beneath the church at 214 Nassau Street, with an entrance ramp connecting to the parking lot behind the church. For more information, visit www.stpaulsofprinceton.org.