Alan: Although piety often degenerates into smarmy pietistic-ness, it does play a proper role - what might be seen as the interiorization of humility when engaged in the exteriorization of reverence.
That said - and getting to the point - Gregory Bateson observed that "Natural History is the antidote for piety."
Natural History does not just revere in a standoffish, genuflectional way.
The study of Natural History is outgoing, probing, delving, refusing to get stuck in the superficial observation of things, but instead getting down into the interactive, nitty-gritty processes that swarm together as component parts of a progressively-totalizing whole, a whole that is always greater than the sum of its parts.
Pierre Teilhard de Chardin SJ: "Research As Adoration"
blogspot.com/2012/09/ scientific-research-as- adoration-pierre.html
Since God Doesn't Heal Amputees, Humankind Will. The Future Of Christian Theology
"Crooked," A Netflix Series By Michael Pollan Probing The History (And Pre-History) Of Cooking
"Arguing against those who said that natural philosophy was contrary to the Christian faith, (Aquinas) writes in his treatise "Faith, Reason and Theology that "even though the natural light of the human mind is inadequate to make known what is revealed by faith, nevertheless what is divinely taught to us by faith cannot be contrary to what we are endowed with by nature. One or the other would have to be false, and since we have both of them from God, he would be the cause of our error, which is impossible." "Aladdin's Lamp: How Greek Science Came to Europe Through the Islamic World" by John Freely http://www.amazon.com/Aladdins-Lamp-Science-Through-Islamic/dp/0307277836/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1327882581&sr=8-1
John Ford, John Wayne, Aquinas And Theosis (Christian Divinization)
Aquinas, St. Symeon The New Theologian And Their Spiritual Kin