What!—another book about science and the Catholic Church; who needs it?”
That was the question I asked myself as I thought about writing this web-book. Six months earlier I had published an ebook about science and Catholic teaching; “Science versus the Church—‘Truth Cannot Contradict Truth’”. I wrote it to demonstrate that there was no conflict between what science truly told us about the world and Catholic teaching. A few months after that, a very fine book (hard-copy) “Particles of Faith” by Stacey Trasancos came out, with the same goal and theme. And some 14 years ago, a classic work by Stephen Barr, “Modern Physics and Ancient Faith” had appeared, to mention just a few titles.
Well, here was the problem: I had taught several adult education courses on science and Catholic teaching for the Diocese of Harrisburg and had given talks locally about the subject. A great difficulty in this enterprise was that some adult students lacked the basic scientific knowledge needed to engage meaningfully with the proponents of “scientism” (the atheology that says science explains everything we need to know about the world); and I didn’t have the skill to impart these basics in the limited course time available. This lack was not only a concern for me, but is general, according to this headline in the U.S. Catholic, “Should Catholics get an F in science?”
So, here’s my remedy: a book that proposes to show how science intersects Catholic teaching, which also gives a background in the basic sciences on a qualitative, pictorial level, that will enable students to understand and refute arguments given by those who proclaim that science explains everything. At the end of each chapter a section provides this background; students who do remember their science classes can skip these sections.
I’ve made every effort to avoid complex mathematics and have tried to give explanations that are pictorial, qualitative and down to earth. According to beta-readings of chapters by my wife (who’s a math-phobe), former students, and privileged viewers of my blog, this effort has been successful. In order to do this I’ve made use of diagrams and animations; where these are not in the web-book itself, there are links to enable students to explore in depth.
I’ve tried to relate specific areas of Catholic teaching with the appropriate science basics, as shown in the Table of contents. Finally I have tried to show how science, by its very nature, is limited in what it can tell us about the world. It has achieved much to enrich us materially, but as that great philosopher-physicist, Fr. Stanley Jaki, put it so eloquently,
“To answer the question ‘To be, or not to be?’ we cannot turn to a science textbook.”
Here is the Table of Contents with links to the web sites for given essays. (Some are yet to be published at this time, 19 April, 2018)