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Gerard Bodifee (Mortsel, February 7, 1946) is a Flemish astrophysicist, publicist and columnist.
After his studies in chemistry at the universities of Antwerp and Ghent, he concentrated on astronomy, more specifically on the problem of the formation of stars. At the University of Brussels, he conducted scientific research on the origin and evolution of galaxies.
He obtained a Ph.D in science from the University of Brussels with a doctoral thesis titled Oscillating Star Formation and Dissipative Structures in Galaxies, his promoter being Prof. C. de Loore. This research was undertaken in collaboration with Ilya Prigogine.
As acting Managing Director of the National Planetarium, associated to the Royal Observatory of Belgium in Brussels, he drew up several programmes for national education. He also presented a television series on the stars and celestial phenomena on VRT, National Television Belgium.
He also used to teach chemistry in secondary school (Saint-Rita high school in Kontich)
Next to his scientific work, he became a well-known writer and columnist for the weekly magazine Knack and the newspaper De Standaard. His style is slightly ironical, often Christian-philosophically inspired, but always well-grounded and critical, even with relation to his own scientific domain.
Gerard Bodifee calls himself a Christian philosopher because he wants to stress the importance of the Christian cultural heritage. He considers the question whether God exists to be subordinate to the positive effects of a religious awareness in which morality, altruism, giving meaning to existence and love are inherently linked with their Christian origin.
Bodifee concentrates on writing and lecturing in Belgium and abroad. He founded the House for Philosophy, and gives courses about the foundations of our culture in Greece and elsewhere, linking the origin of philosophy with modern science. He has published some twenty books in the field where science, philosophy and religion interact.
He is married to Lucette Verboven, interviewer of diverse television programmes in Belgium (KTRO) and the Netherlands (KRO) and author of a number of religious books.
Bodifee currently gives guest lectures at the University of Antwerp (UA).
Most of his publications are in Dutch, recently he also published in English.
- Works on science, history of science, religion, the relation of these two, the relation of man, world, God, culture ...
- Algemene sterrenkunde (General Astronomy, 1977, together with T. Dethier and E. Wojciulewitsch): handbook of astronomy for students and amateur astronomers
- Het Vreemde van de Aarde (Strange Earth, 1986): The author explains the unique character of the earth as the cradle and dwelling of mankind, identifying life on earth as a self-organizing dissipative structure that transforms the environment on this planet into a state far from chemical equilibrium. Het concludes no other place in the Solar System is in such a remarkable condition.
- Ruimte voor Vrijheid (Room for Freedom, 1988): This is a discussion about freedom and order in nature, specifically about the freedom of human beings. The author discerns in the capability of living beings to act spontaneously and autonomously no contradiction with the existence of the laws of nature. He points out that these laws do not determine the behavior of complex systems and thereby leave room for freedom.
- Aandacht en Aanwezigheid (Attention and Existence, 1991): This book regards attention as a creative force in an unfinished world and explores the conflict between science and religion. Human being have always analyzed their world, thus engaging in a scientific act, but the author contends that for a realistic understanding of the world, also an exploration out of intuition, empathy and commitment is necessary.
- Op de Rand van een Vulkaan (On the Edge of the Volcano, 1992): On the volcanic island of Stromboli the author and journalist Frans Verleyen discuss about social, moral and religious issues. The guideline of these discussions was the question how to deal with the world: by reason, by feeling or by faith?
- In Beginsel (In Principle, 1993): This is a personal testimony on religion in general and on Christian belief in particular. The author sees religious belief as a willingness to trust the all-embracing, meaningful reality that created man, that overpowers and transcends him and which man calls - if he doesn’t leave it unnamed out of awe - God.
- Klassieken van de Wetenschap (Classics of Science, 1994): A short presentation of thirty classical works from the history of science from Plato to Prigogine, together with the author's reflections on them.
- Met het Oog op Mars (With an Eye on Mars, 1997): The author gives a historical survey of the study of Mars and a round-up of the present state of knowledge about the red planet.
- Natuurlijke Ongehoorzaamheid (Natural Disobedience, 1997): The author discusses the relation of man to biological nature in the broad context of the evolution of life on earth, contending that to be human essentially is an act of revolt against the fixed biological behavioural patterns. This disturbs the existing order of nature and especially the humane principle of caring for the weak replaces the natural law of the survival of the fittes.
- Eclips (Eclipse, 1999): A book about the solar eclipse of August 11, 1999, and about solar eclipses in general.
- Weg van Duizend Jaar (Road of Thousand Years, 2000): On the occasion of the change of the millennium, Bodifee presents, as a reminder, two visionary characters of the past thousand year: one who lived at the beginning of the millennium - the Franciscan theologian Bonaventura - and the Jesuit Teilhard de Chardin, living at the end of it. Both describe a road leading to God: Bonaventura addressed the individual and Teilhard de Chardin mankind.
- Tot Bestaan Bestemd (Meant to Be, 2003): This book concerns several of the author's favorite themes, i.a. creation and time. He discusses the path connecting non-being to being, the path that the universe has followed in its long genesis, and at the same time the road each human traverses within his own limited existence, because living is always a creative process and people create things. The book also discusses science and religion, human activities both talking about creation and time with their own premisses and method: science studies the world in its present state of development, while religion reminds man of an existence that is complete and that transcends time.
- Weg uit de Leegte (Europe's Inner Void, 2005): Convinced that the spiritual crisis of present-day secular Europe forces us to ponder the nature of religion, the author asks what a culture loses when it loses its religion. Europe has to find a way out of the spiritual void in which it finds itself, and this is of vital importance for this old and wounded continent.
- God en het gesteente (God and Granite, 2007): A favourite theme: religion versus science. Religion speaks of God and keeps silent about the laws of nature. Science speaks of nature and keeps silent about God. But what is meant by 'God'? And what is 'nature'? We are surrounded by mysteries.
- CMG. A Catalogue of One Thousand Named Galaxies (2010) or CNG. Catalogue of Named Galaxies (a more concise version, downloadable from the author's personal website): A galaxy-only catalogue to be used by amateur astronomers, containing essential scientific information about one thousand selected galaxies; by giving each of them a name, in Latin of Latinized Greek, according to an old tradition of scientific nomenclature, this catalogue also aims at filling a gap in man's 'handling' of these magnificent and most spectacular objects in space.
- philosophical fiction:
- Dialoog over de Verbeterde Staat van de Wereld (Dialogue about the Improvable State of the World, 1995): Four characters discuss the world as each of them experiences it and give their views about what should be done to realize a more just world; especially they discuss ambition and powerlessness, attainable truths and the tragic of human deficiency.
- Diotima (2008): This book is a rather strange addition to Bodifee's oeuvre, being a sort of romance. A mysterious young woman meets a street musician and tells him she loves him as no one has ever loved somebody before; but what she tells him afterwards makes his heart bleed. The book centers on themes of (platonic) love and desire, cosmology, biology, evolution.
- Compilations of columns, first published in the literary supplement of the Belgian journal De Standaard, in the Belgian weekly magazine Knack or elsewhere:
- Reflecties (Reflections, 1989)
- Momenten onder de Melkweg (Moments under the Milky Way, 1990)
- Het Zichtbare en het Denkbare (The Visible and the Thinkable, 1990)
- Resonanties (Resonances, 1991)
- Tot mijn Verwondering (To my Astonishment, 2001)
- Nocturnes - Nachtelijke gedachten over de mens, de kosmos en God (Nocturnes - Nightly Thinking about Man, Kosmos, God, 2010)
- Website of Gerard Bodifee
- Interview with Gerard Bodifee and Lucette Verboven
- Brief aan Charles Darwin - De Volkskrant
- interview 2004