Review by Julie Abell
“How can you, as a Catholic, explain what the Church teaches about the relationship between science and faith?” That is the question scientist, writer, and scholar Stacy A. Trasancos chose to answer in her book titled Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science. I picked up this book because I needed a little navigating! I am not a scientist, but as a home school mom I have had years of re-learning science in order to teach my children and quite frankly, although I could not stand science in high school, as an adult I am really amazed by all of God’s amazing creation!
Well, the author of this book is a highly educated scientist; she holds a PhD in Chemistry from Penn State. She worked as a research chemist for DuPont before becoming a full-time homemaker in 2003. She also holds a master’s degree in dogmatic theology (summa cum laude) from Holy Apostles College and Seminary. Writing a book that helps a Catholic navigate science is something the author is highly qualified to do.
The book is partitioned into three major sections which cover science in the light of faith, questions in the physical sciences, and questions in the biological sciences. The author gets a little personal discussing her journey to the Catholic faith from her original “None” status. She states that she could no longer ignore what she calls “the chasm,” the “big truth beyond science that insists on the question, ‘Where did all this come from?’” And in explaining the science, Stacy Trasancos shows that “it is a testament to our rationality that humans have discovered all of these particle and interactions, and it is a fact of our humanity that our knowledge will forever remain partial, but if we see science in the light of faith, then we take the richest, most reasonable, and vastly more exciting approach to scientific enterprise, respecting nature as a part of a bigger systematic reality.”
Stacy Trasancos adeptly and systematically steers the reader through these questions: “What is the relationship between faith and science? How do you sift through scientific conclusions? Does the Big Bang prove God? Is the atomic world the real world? Does quantum mechanics explain free will? Did we evolve from atoms? Are creationism and intelligent design correct? Can a Christian accept the theory of evolution? When does a human life begin?” This is the kind of book that needs to be read bit by bit to be digested if you are not a scientist. If you are familiar with the sciences, then that may not be the case for you. Regardless, you will put down this book at the end and feel you are a bit smarter than you were before you picked it up. Enjoy!