Dr. Katherine Bulinski
, a Bellarmine University associate professor of geosciences, recently published an article exploring the concept of deep time
on the Vatican Observatory Foundation's blog.
"It is very difficult for humans to get a sense of the scope and scale of the age of the Earth and the universe," she wrote. "To the average person, a few centuries is quite old, and in terms of the age of the Church, the time frame of a couple of millennia is ancient. For a paleontologist however, our time scales are framed by many millions if not billions of years of Earth history."
The Vatican Observatory, headquartered southeast of Rome in Castel Gandolfo, conducts astronomical research and education with support from the Vatican. The Vatican Observatory Foundation supports the observatory's work in the United States, including a telescope operating in Arizona.
Bulinski acknowledged the strangeness of a paleontologist writing a post for an astronomy blog. She explained that the concept of deep time -- the planet's entire life span as observed through science -- unites the two disciplines.
"When you begin to recognize the scope of these time scales, it is impossible not to feel incredibly humbled by the seeming insignificance of the human species as an inhabitant on the 4.6 billion-year-old Earth," she wrote. "It was an incredible responsibility for humans to inherit the charge to care for creation, and it was also a responsibility that I do not think we initially had the wisdom to properly cultivate. I believe we as humans are just now awakening to the horror of what our species has done to our beautiful planet in a geological blink of an eye. As a person of faith, it is impossible for me not to feel devastated when I see how the modern human being has abused our world."
Read her full blog post