Unraveling the Tension
Between Faith and Science
A Review of
Aquinas and Modern Science: A New Synthesis of Faith and Reason
Paperback: Angelico Press, 2017
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Reviewed by Amy Gentile
Faith and Reason, or religion and science, are often set up as polar opposites in modern discourse. Debates on such topics as evolution or the origins of the universe can make it seem as though faith and reason are diametrically opposed, further entrenching people in both “camps”. Yet there are many wonderful scientists who remain fully committed to reason and trust in the evidence of science while also valuing the place of faith and religious thought. It is in this vein that Gerard Verschuuren writes, and his specific focus on Thomas Aquinas and Thomistic philosophy provides a unique contribution to those interested in the intersection of faith and science.
Verschuuren’s book is impressive in its scope; he begins the book by describing the historical context of Aquinas as well as outlining the broad contours of his thought. He especially focuses on: Esse, Essence, Existence, and Substance; Matter and Form; Fivefold Causality; and Primary/Secondary Causes. Here, Verschuuren does a good job of explaining Aquinas’s thought in understandable ways: the ideas are certainly complex, but the author uses helpful analogies and explains terms thoroughly to aid the reader’s comprehension. These aspects of Thomistic philosophy are then applied to very diverse fields of scientific study, encompassing everything from Physics to Biology to Neuroscience, and even the Social Sciences.