Personal home page of Dermott J. Mullan I am a Roman Catholic
Professionally, I am a faculty member in the Bartol Research Institute at the
University of Delaware.
- Undergraduate: Queen's University, Belfast, N. Ireland 1961-1965
- Degree conferred: Bachelor of Science in Physics (with First Class Honors) in
- Degree conferred: Bachelor of Science in Mathematics (with First Class Honors)
- Graduate: University of Maryland, College Park MD 1965-1969
- Degree conferred: Ph.D. in Astronomy in 1969
Research interests: My research centers on studies of the
structure of the Sun and other stars, especially as these are influenced by magnetic fields.
For more information on my
research interests, click here
- 1969-1972: Staff Astronomer, Armagh Observatory, N. Ireland
- 1972-1973: Presidential Post-doctoral intern, Bartol Research Foundation
- 1973-1978: Assistant Professor, Bartol Research Foundation
- 1978-1982: Associate Professor, Bartol Research Foundation
- 1982-1987: Professor, Bartol Research Foundation
- 1987-present: Professor, Bartol Research Institute of the University of
A list of my publications in astrophysics can be found
Copies of my published research papers can be accessed online at the Astrophysical Data Site
by entering "Mullan, D." in the Author's box, and then clicking on the "Send
As a Catholic, I am interested in supporting the Church in its mission
to pass on the faith.
This involves first passing the faith to my own children. My wife Sue and I
were married in 1970, and we have 10 children: Wendy, Kathryn, Michael,
Margaret, Angela, Elizabeth, John, Peter, Rebecca, and Laura.
In passing on the faith to my children, I found it very helpful to use the Baltimore
Catechism (St Joseph's Edition) . Especially helpful is the
which prepares a child for First Confession and First Communion.
As my children reach adulthood, they are being supported in the practice of their Catholic faith
by the Regnum Christi movement,
who "serve the Church by forming and motivating enterprising lay Catholics to take an active part
in the Church's mission: to Love Christ enthusiastically; and to live their Catholic Faith to the full".
Writings which were given to me on Father's Day by my daughters Margaret and Kathryn can be found
To help in passing on the faith to others outside my family, I obtained a
Catechist Certificate from the Notre Dame Institute of Cathechetics in 1993. The
Notre Dame Institute has since merged with Christendom College as a theology graduate program
As a further means of passing on the faith, I have written articles on
Catholic topics. These have appeared in the
and Pastoral Review (HPR) ,
Catholic Register (NCR),
Catholic Answer ,
New Oxford Review (NOR) ,
Lay Witness (LW) ,
The Catholic Response (TCR),
First Things blog,
My on-line articles about Catholic topics:
- An article describing the Catholic teaching on indulgences can be
The Church's teaching on indulgences has to do with the fact that God
treats good and evil in very different ways. This article, entitled "Indulgences:
spreading the wealth", appeared in HPR November 2000.
- In a discussion of science in the Bible, I consider the material in
Genesis in terms of the Church's teaching on the process of Biblical
inspiration. This teaching was set forth in the landmark encyclical
"Providentissimus Deus" by Pope Leo XIII in 1893, where the Pope also
instructed Catholics on the relationship between reliable scientific
discoveries and the Bible. Although the Bible was not written as a science
textbook, I argue that certain pieces of scientific truth which were provided
to Moses by God serve as a sort of "signature of God". The article
appeared as a three-part series in The Catholic Answer early in 2001 with
the title "The Signature of God: Science in the Bible".
- The Church in America has been decimated by dissenting theologians
ever since they took a public stand in opposition to papal teaching as regards
the encyclical "Humanae Vitae". In an article
which appeared in NOR in Sept. 2001, I liken dissent's effects on one's
spiritual life to radiation sickness in the aftermath of a nuclear explosion.
I refer to the incident in which the theologians publicly and brazenly
dissented from Pope Paul VI as "The Catholic Hiroshima".
- I have argued that covenant is at the heart of "re-ligion" in an
article which appeared in HPR in April 2002. The article, entitled
"Covenant: the Essence of Re-Ligion", considers the Mass in the context of covenant renewal.
- The gift of the sacrament of Confession is the subject of an
which appeared in NCR in the spring of 2002.
- "The Church I love: a welcoming place" is the title of an
dealing with visits to the Blessed Sacrament. This article appeared in the Liguorian magazine in
- In an article
that appeared in NCR in June 2002, I explore the teaching of Pope Leo XIII
in one of his encyclicals where he wrote that the Scriptures can be considered
as letters written by a Father to his children while they are far from
- In an article
that appeared in HPR in June 2002, I examine Catholic teaching
on contraception. I argue that those who fail to hold the line in opposition to
contraception have placed themselves on a slippery slope.
- In an article
entitled "Aquinas and the Aliens" that appeared in NCR in the summer of
2002, I consider the possibility of intelligent life elsewhere in the
universe in the light of a certain teaching by St Thomas Aquinas.
- In honor of St Patrick's Day 2003, NCR published a reflection on
the debt that an Irish Catholic owes to his ancestors, who passed on the gift
of faith in spite of adversity. This debt places a burden on those of us with
faith to ensure that the gift is passed on to the next generation.
- There is a growing movement among certain Catholics to deny the results of
modern physics that point to a universe in which Earth, Sun, stars, and
galaxies are billions of years old. The members of this Catholic
young-Earth movement use a literal reading of Genesis, in conjunction with
quotations from the Fathers of the Church, to support the belief that the
universe is no more than a few thousand years old. The proponents of this
cause say that the reasoning used by physicists is faulty, and is driven by a
sub-conscious desire to support the theory of evolution. During the past
century or so, arguments in favor of the "young-Earth" used to be confined to
non-Catholics, who subscribed to a Fundamentalist creed. But now, the
arguments are springing up among Catholics. In an article
which appeared in NOR in April 2003, I suggest that the results of modern
physics are entirely consistent with the true Catholic interpretation of
scripture. My article, entitled "Fundamentalists In the Catholic Church: a
growing phenomenon" is supported by comments which were made more than 50 years
ago in an address
by Pope Pius XII. Two letters appeared in the Sept. 2003 issue of NOR criticizing my article.
My responses to these criticisms, which will appear in a future issue of NOR, can be
found here and
- How can one teach children effectively to trust in the Providence of God?
In a reflection
on this topic, I suggest that it helps to have a dramatic teaching aid.
This article appeared in HPR in April 2003.
- God's plan for marriage
includes a fundamental openness to life. However, the culture in which we live
prefers the contraceptive mentality. The theme of openness to life, especially
in the context of marriage preparation, is explored in an article
that appeared in NCR on Father's Day 2003.
- How does it happen that penance and indulgences can remove the
after-effects of sin? Catholic teaching indicates that long after a sin has
been committed, a person may use a prayer or pious practice to "reach back in
time" and have an effect on that sin. I explore how this teaching of the
Catholic Church might become more understandable in the context of the
scientific concept known as "space-time". The article,
entitled "Where did yesterday go?" appeared in
NCR in July 2003.
Although Galileo is the most famous case in the putative struggle between the Church and science, he
is not the only case. However, some years prior to Galileo's difficulties with the Catholic Church,
another famous scientist had a run-in with another Christian church. This resulted in a loss of job,
and eventually in excommunication for his scientific beliefs. But strangely enough, this case
is almost never mentioned in the history of science. Could this be because only Catholic bashing is
politically correct? The scientist in question was Johannes Kepler: he was expelled by Lutherans.
appeared in NCR in November 2003.
The heart of a shepherd is the hallmark of a good pastor, who looks after his flock in practical ways.
Such a priest was Father Henry Sims (1916-1999), pastor of St Patrick's Church in Newcastle, Maine. This
appeared in the section My Favorite Priest in HPR December 2003.
The idea of the home as a domestic Church has value only if there is some connection
between what goes on at home and what goes on in Church. How can parents ensure that their children
will feel at home in Church? This
appeared in HPR in 2004.
In a reflection on a phrase in Pope Paul VI's Creed of the People of God, I discuss
The Beauty of the Church in a web-
that appeared in conjunction with the June 2006 issue of LW.
The question "Does hell last forever?" surfaces from time to time in
Church history ever since Origen raised the possibility that the eternity of hell is not consistent
with God's mercy. Origen and his followers believed that the souls in hell would be released at some
point from their torments. In a reflection on the Sign of the Cross, I consider the question "Hell: why is it eternal?" in the
context of covenant to show that the traditional teaching is consistent with covenant theology. This
appeared as a two-part series in TCR in 2008.
What is it like for one person to share in two natures?
Jesus did precisely that during his life on Earth, sharing fully in human nature and in divine nature.
Hypostatic union is the formal term for the mystery that one person shared two natures.
What does this have to with you and me? Well, in baptism, we were given a share in the divine nature.
Therefore, each of us does have access to two natures in the course of our lives as Catholics.
It is my choice whether I choose to live solely in my human nature or whether I choose to move to a higher level and live
in the divine nature. In a reflection entitled
"Peach-trees, the Hypostatic Union, and the Christian life",
I use the image of a peach tree to examine the question;
what happens to someone who shares in two natures?
appeared in TCR in the summer of 2009.
A book entitled "Blood Moons" by Pastor John Hagee claimed that when 4 lunar eclipses
(known as a "tetrad") occur in the space of 2 years,
this is an indication that significant events will occur for the people of Israel.
But a careful inspection of all such tetrads back to the year 2000 BC, before the Hebrews
were even identifiable as a separate people, shows that Hagee's claim is not valid.
I wrote an
on this topic, which appeared in on the First Things blog on May 13, 2014.
The question "Is the Catholic Church in conflict with science?" surfaces often in modern culture.
Surprisingly (to some), the answer is a resounding No, Galileo notwithstanding. To address this topic, my colleague
Stephen M Barr and myself wrote an
which appeared in the Wall Street Journal on May 21, 2015.
The question "How many divisions does the Pope have?" was made famous by Stalin in order to
mock the Pope's power. But surprisingly, the Pope took action in 1942 which coincided with two majoir
turning points in World War II. My
on this topic appeared in TCR in Sept/Oct issue 2015.