Aquinas and Modern Science
A New Synthesis of Faith and Reason

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Summary

We live in a paradoxical time. Science enables us to know more and more, but it seems to be about less and less: we reach into outer space but understand less about our inner space; we create intricate machineries to direct our lives but cannot control ourselves; we see more trees but no longer the forest.
Is there a remedy for these dichotomies? Yes, philosophy, which can bring coherence where fragmentation looms, opening vistas no telescope or microscope can ever reach — and especially the philosophy of Thomas Aquinas, because for more than seven centuries it has been a beacon of surety in times of uncertainty, confusion, and tribulation.
His 13th century world was in many ways as turbulent as ours, confronted with an influx of new ideas, rife with

dubious philosophies not so different from the skepticism, secularism, and relativism that saturates ours. Aquinas understood both the fascination of his contemporaries with new discoveries and the confusions they often brought.
No wonder then that his philosophy has been lauded by modern thinkers such as Albert Einstein, David Bohm, Werner Heisenberg, John Searle, and Alasdair MacIntyre — to name but a few.
The mission of Aquinas and Modern Science: A New Synthesis of Faith and Reason is precisely to invite you on a tour through the richness of Thomas’s philosophy in its encounter with the sciences as we know them today.
Let his time-tested principles continue to serve as an anchor of intelligibility in a sea of confusing claims.


Table of Contents
 



FOREWORD by Joseph W. Koterski, S.J., Fordham University	
PREFACE	
1.	AQUINAS AND HIS TIME	
2.	AQUINAS AND METAPHYSICS	
	a.	The Need for Metaphysics	
	b.	Faith and Reason	
3.	AQUINAS AND NATURE’S PRINCIPLES	
	a.	Esse, Essence, Existence, and Substance	
	b.	Matter and Form	
	c.	Fivefold Causality	
	d.	Primary and Secondary Cause	
4.	AQUINAS AND EPISTEMOLOGY	
	a.	Epistemology in Crisis	
	b.	Epistemology Restored	
	c.	A Foundation for Science

5.	AQUINAS AND THE SCIENCES	
	a.	Aquinas the Scientist?	
	b.	The Power of Reason	
6.	AQUINAS AND COSMOLOGY	
	a.	A Beginning of the Universe?	
	b.	Before the Big Bang?	
	c.	Creation ex nihilo?	
7.	AQUINAS AND PHYSICS	
	a.	Classical Physics	
	b.	Quantum Physics	
8.	AQUINAS AND GENETICS	
	a.	Causa Materialis of DNA	
	b.	Causa Efficiens of DNA	
	c.	Causa Formalis of DNA	
	d.	Causa Finalis of DNA	
	e.	Causa Exemplaris of DNA	
9.	AQUINAS AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY	
	a.	The Causality of Evolution	
	b.	Intelligent Design?	
	c.	The Path of Evolution	
10.	AQUINAS AND NEUROSCIENCE	
	a.	The Mental is Not the Neural	
	b.	What then is the Mental if Not Neural?	
	c.	Can the Soul Exist Without the Body?	
11.	AQUINAS AND SOCIAL SCIENCES	
	a.	Sociology	
	b.	Economics	
	c.	Political Sciences	
12.	INDEX	

	



Reviews
 


“I was impressed by the author’s knowledge of science and his insights into its perfect compatibility with Thomas’ commonsense principles. I was also impressed by his ability to translate the technical abstractions of both philosophy and science into the language and thought processes of ordinary intelligent laymen.”

Peter Kreeft,
Professor of Philosophy, Boston College, MA

"Dr. Verschuuren makes very clear the perennial value of Aquinas if one seeks an understanding of the nature of scientific explanation. Natural science rests on an assumed set of philosophical principles. This book is a clear exposition of the first principles of thought and being, as identified and defended in the work of Aquinas."

Jude P. Dougherty,
Dean Emeritus of the Department of Philosophy,
Catholic University of America, Washington, DC

"Dr. Verschuuren has written an informative, thought-provoking, witty and irresistibly readable brief for the continuing relevance of Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy to modern science. He is at home in both worlds, and can explain them clearly to those who are not."

Stephen M. Barr
Professor in the Department of Physics and Astronomy
Director of the Bartol Research Institute
Researcher in theoretical particle physics
University of Delaware

"First, the book is for college students a readable and comprehensive introduction to the thought of Aquinas. Many times I wondered if the author were going to mention this or that Thomistic idea, and sure enough up it came. I was not disappointed once. Second, the book is a treasure house of significant and insightful integrations with sciences to which these students would have already been exposed. More importantly, what the author does so well is to provide a clear example of what any current Thomist should be trying to do – talk to one’s contemporaries."

John F.X. Knasas,
Professor of Philosophy, Center for Thomistic Studies,
University of St. Thomas, Houston, TX.

"Verschuuren here provides a thoughtful account of how the philosophical vision of Aquinas can help us better to see the unity of reality and to appreciate the wide range of scientific disciplines that study widely diverse aspects of reality. The book includes well informed discussion of such technical issues as the indeterminacy problem in microphysics and the concept of randomness in evolutionary biology. For each issue Verschuuren brings to bear the resources of Thomistic philosophical method, clearly explained."

Joseph W. Koterski , S.J.,
Associate Professor of Philosophy,
Fordham University, New York

"Verschuuren has written a great book on this. The knowledge he brings is highly impressive. He has a great love of Aquinas and familiarity with him and his metaphysics, yet also looks to be highly read in the scientific literature.
Verschuuren gives us an introduction to the metaphysics that is simple enough for the layman to understand."

Nick Peters,
of Deeper Waters Christian Ministry

"Indeed, this book is a fabulous introduction to Thomistic thought and Verschuuren does a wonderful job of suggesting applications to a variety of different fields. This breadth is very helpful—there is something in this book for everybody, no matter their area of interest. I do think Verschuuren makes a strong case for the relevance of Aquinas’s thought to modern day scientific pursuits, especially how the latter’s philosophical categories can help us examine the underpinnings of our fields."

Amy Gentile in Englewood Review of Books