Faith, Reason, and Baseball: An Interview with Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P.

Photo: Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P., sits with students who will assist his statistical analysis of the Cape Cod Baseball League. Photo by Justin Muir for Providence College

Faith, Reason, and Baseball: An Interview with Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P.

Fr. Humbert Kilanowski, O.P., is assistant professor of mathematics at Providence College and holds a PhD in Mathematics from Ohio State. His recent publication on polymers in the Journal of Statistical Physics has implications for modeling the behavior of DNA molecules and proteins in solution. Fr. Humbert will be conducting a statistical analysis of the Cape Cod Baseball League this summer and teaching a class on baseball statistics at PC in the Fall.

How does your career in mathematics relate to your life as a Dominican priest?

People always ask me how I went from being a mathematician into the Order. I say there’s nothing a mathematician values more than Truth, and our motto and our way of life as Dominicans has been to preach and teach the Truth for eight hundred years.

Some people present science as somehow opposed to faith. How do you reconcile the two?

The whole scientific project grew out of Christianity. Science was used as a means of coming to know the truth about creation, to know the world that God made and our place in it. When I was in college, I thought of science in a deterministic way: you can make a few measurements and know exactly how the universe is going to be at any given time. Then I took a class in quantum mechanics that showed how limited our knowledge actually is. Deeper investigation into the sciences shows us the limits of human reason and opens us up to more profound knowledge of God.

What’s the goal the baseball research you’ll be conducting this summer?

There’s a lot of dispute about how player performance should be calculated and how to use it. My idea is to try to get a more accurate measurement by looking at data from a league where all the players are at about the same age and ability level. We’ll study the Cape Cod Baseball League, a top tier league for college players in the summer time.

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