Catholic Author of all things science, Stacy Trasancos has an awesome new book with Ave Maria Press titled Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science. It packs a pretty nice mix of theology and science when considering some of today’s toughest questions. It’s a great read that challenges any reader to connecting faith and reason, especially atheists. So here’s 24 things atheist Richard Dawkins wouldn’t have the guts to say.
1. “I literally earned a master’s degree in dogmatic theology through an Avogadro’s number of diaper changes, sippy-cup refills, sister-fight breakups, and piles of unsorted laundry.”
2. “What I have to say is not profound; it is rather simple. It is a plea to fellow Catholics to return to childlike awe and wonder with an unwavering confidence in Christ and his Church when we approach the subject of modern science.”
3. “Sometimes I wish it were possible to see memories the way we see stars. The first memory I would see would be my mother’s face as I looked up from her embrace. When she told me God made the trees, the big round sun, and me, my fascination was fueled by the thought that God made everything. Children start out assuming there is a unifying logic to it all. To a child, faith and science go hand in hand.”
4. “In truth, we artificial electron transfer groupies were but puny observers and manipulators of laws magnificently beyond the work of human hands, and we knew it.”
5. “You see, a chemist is privileged to wrestle with the laws of nature, but that privilege delivers a blow of humility. I learned something my professor had not prepared me for. The 99 percent failure rate is not what burdens scientists, because scientists learn from failures; the burden comes from the knowledge that all of your research demands that you reach into a darkness hoping for the slightest glimmer of light. You know the truth is there beyond your reach, awaiting discovery, and you want so desperately to know what it is. For a scientist who does not believe in God or creation, there is an additional, monumental burden: you do not even know why the truths you are striving to discover are there; you have no fundamental explanation for why you care about science.”
6. “I liked to say that I was giving new meaning to the cliché ‘Spandex is a privilege, not a right.’ I worked in the very building where spandex was invented, with my own laboratory and office and with dominion over experimentation.”
7. “When my students learn about atoms, I tell them to be amazed at the Creator who ordered all things. I tell them not to be disheartened because they do not know everything, but to embrace learning for their lifetimes.”
8. “I may have walked away from a career, but I found a vocation. Your choices are what you make of them. If you commit to excellence and to adding value—for the greater glory of God—you will always make contributions.”
9. “Granting assent to the articles of faith was the most intellectually satisfying leap I ever dared to take as a scientist and, more importantly, as a person.”
10. “If someone tells you that science has all the answers, try not to die laughing.”
11. “Theology is a science inspired by God and whose object is God, therefore, theology is the highest science.”
12. “The scientific community needs visionary people of prayer and hope, people who are unafraid of truth, goodness, and beauty.”
13. “If you keep in mind that faith and science have shared dialogue over the millennia much more than people today make it seem, then you begin to have a solid grasp of the true nature of the relationship. The work of Fr. Stanley Jaki helped me understand that science and Christianity are united by a bond even stronger than friendship. His historical research shows how the biblical worldview gave rise to and guarded a correct view of the cosmos, the one that ushered in modern science.”
14. “I tested the tenets of faith in my life laboratory, and I found them to be true. For example, I obeyed the obligation to attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation, to pray daily, to honor my role as wife and mother, to pursue virtue, and to try to avoid sin. Choosing to do those things clarified the truth I could not see when I was unwilling to enter the laboratory to experiment. When atheists criticize faith, it is as though they are standing in the hallway of a laboratory criticizing the scientists inside, whose work they do not understand. The empirical evidence I gathered gave me confidence that the leap of faith was a leap into truth.”
15. “Whether physics in our lifetime points to a beginning of the universe or not, Catholics still affirm a beginning because we hold that truth in faith. Before the Big Bang theory, when people thought the universe and time are infinite, the Church held to her creed. This belief is ancient, forming an unbroken thread all the way back to Genesis. The Old Testament people held a belief in creation in time.”
16. “If we hold firm to our faith as strongly as the prophets, the biblical authors, the sons and mother in The Second Book of Maccabees, and the Church Fathers did, there is no scientific conclusion in any place or time that could shake our faith. We can ‘look upon heaven and earth, and all that is in them,’ not deifying the universe but seeking after the Creator of it, for we know who ‘balanced the foundations of the earth.’”
17. “Physical determinism only applies to the physical realm, while the total reality includes the natural and the supernatural. Nature follows its prescriptive (designed) physical laws—even if electrons do not actually occupy an exact location in space and time according to those laws and even if they do but our descriptive models cannot determine the location. Free agents (God, angels, humans) are factors that cause matter to move as well, factors that cannot be accounted for fully in physical equations. It is that simple.”
18. “In his Summa Contra Gentiles, St. Thomas Aquinas gave an example of a conditional proposition, a compound proposition where the truth of one clause depends on the truth of the other clause. He compares man to animal. “If man is an ass, he is irrational.”[i] His point is that those quadruped beasts of burden are not created with rational souls as are humans. Logically it follows that if man were but an animal, he would by condition also be irrational, as in not a rational being. Let me add to St. Thomas’ conditional proposition: If a man denies the soul, he declares himself an irrational ass.”
19. “Speaking of evolution in terms of individuals is like using a bulldozer to pick up the first grain of sand that ever existed on a beach. Not only is it the wrong tool, it is the wrong expectation because we do not think of beaches in terms of first particles of sand. But neither can genetics rule out a miracle. So if indeed Adam and Eve began to live, literally, as a fully grown man and woman through a miraculous act of God, science can only shrug and keep on digging.”
20. “For now, and possibly forever, we do not know the exact details relating to human origins—not scientifically, not theologically. In the entire scope of history, those primal events, which could have happened in a single day, were but a fraction of a blink on an evolutionary scale that deals with thousands and millions of years at a time. If the two stories can never be plainly woven together, the discrepancy may be in the gap where humans cannot measure, not unlike the inaccessibility of the quantum realm.”
21. Scientifically, there is no other theory that comes close to explaining the diversity of life found on our planet. In the words of geneticist Dr. Theodosius Dobzhansky, who was Eastern Orthodox and whose famous phrase provided the title of his essay in The American Biology Teacher in 1973: “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution.”[ii]
OH WAIT, HE WOULD SAY THAT ONE.
– No one debates when an individual spider’s life begins.
– No one debates when an individual puppy’s life begins.
– No one debates when an individual chimp’s life begins.
Without exception, the only beings subjected to such strange scrutiny about the beginning of their existence are unwanted human children.”
23. “If we understand our bodies, then we know its cycles. If we know its cycles, then we have the best chance of knowing—even in the earliest days—when we are pregnant. Who do you think teaches this reasoning and knowledge to women? The Catholic Church does. Doctors ought to tell women the same, but it is hard to find any who do. There are no ancient superstitions there, just biologically accurate information for women.”
And finally, 24. “Seeing science in the light of faith means we stand glorious with faith in the Holy Trinity, a beginning in time, angels, the soul, personhood, the Annunciation, the Visitation, the Incarnation, the Baptism, the water turned into Wine, the Beatitudes, the Transfiguration, the Eucharist, the Agony in the Garden, the Scourging at the Pillar, the Crown of Thorns, the Carrying of the Cross, the Crucifixion, the Resurrection, the Ascension of Christ, the Descent of the Holy Spirit, the Assumption of Mary, and her Crowning as the Queen of Heaven and Earth. None of these is a subject of physical science. Christianity is not a theory.”
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Stacy A. Trasancos is a wife and homeschooling mother of seven. She holds a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State University and a MA in Dogmatic Theology from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. She teaches chemistry and physics for Kolbe Academy online homeschool program and serves as the Science Department Chair. She teaches “Reading Science in the Light of Faith” at Holy Apostles College & Seminary and “The Theology of Science” at Seton Hall University. She is author of Science Was Born of Christianity: The Teaching of Fr. Stanley L. Jaki. Her new book, Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science (Ave Maria Press) comes out October 2016. She works from her family’s 100-year old restored lodge in the Adirondack mountains, where her husband, children, and two German Shepherds remain top priority. Her website can be found here.
[i] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Contra Gentiles, chap. 13.7, accessed December 5, 2015, https://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles1.htm.
[ii] Theodosius Dobzhansky, “Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” The American Biology Teacher 35, no. 3 (March 1973): 125–29.