Dr. Dana I. Casetti – Biography
Originally from Romania, Dr. Casetti is Assistant Professor in the Physics Department at the Southern Connecticut State University. Dr. Casetti is an astronomer interested in understanding the formation of the Milky Way galaxy in a cosmological context. Her work focuses on building and analyzing surveys of stars and stellar systems in our Galaxy and its satellites. Specifically, she measures their transverse velocities, and combines with other properties to constrain cosmologically motivated Milky-Way models.
Dr. Casetti has a PhD and Masters in Astronomy from Yale University, and a Masters in Physics from the University of Bucharest. She is an Orthodox Christian and has participated in religious-scientific dialogue on astronomy at the Vatican Observatory.
Interview with Dr. Dana I. Casetti (July 2018)
Dr. Casetti, an astronomer, speaks of her scientific and religious background in Romania. Her aim is to be a good Orthodox Christian and good scientist at the same time. Dr. Casetti has participated several times in the Vatican’s astronomy school, held every other year. The program looks to bridge the gap between astronomy and theology.
Dr. Casetti discusses how her study of astronomy informs her faith and vice versa. Initially, as she was pursuing her studies, her interest was in astronomy. In terms of faith, Dr. Casetti believes that Orthodoxy is special and needs to be understood on a different level. She touches upon the specificity of the Orthodox approach to science, and the difference between Orthodoxy and Catholicism as relates to science. She sees science as ever changing whereas religion has one core message.
In her view, science doesn’t answer ethical or moral questions. These issues come down to the values and judgment of the individual scientist. Even within a Christian framework, moral and ethical decisions can be difficult. She emphasizes that scientists need to be very well informed and honest in the work that they do.
Dr. Casetti believes that religion cannot be used to dictate the correctness or validity of a scientific theory; likewise, a scientific theory cannot prove a religious concept. These are mistakes made on both sides. People have to realize that theology has a different method of acquiring knowledge from science. Science offers models, which keep being improved upon, but it does not offer absolute truth. Dr. Casetti discusses creationism and the Big Bang theory, and adds that when there appears to be a direct conflict, it is important to reflect that perhaps we do not know everything yet. It is important not to impose science on theology and theology on science, as has occurred throughout history.