The following book review has been provided by the NEW CITY magazine, a publication of the Focolare movement.
Faith and the Marvellous Progress of Science edited by Brendan Leahy is a wonderful and challenging book.
It is one those books for scientists and others, who want to take a serious look at the fascinating interface between science and religion and get those grey cells working.
As I was devouring it, I became captivated by the very rich texture of the book which looks at science from a wide range of different perspectives, from the historical to the philosophical, to the theological. As the British philosopher Mary Midgley puts it: ‘For (the) most important questions in human life, a number of different conceptual tool-boxes always have to be used together’1.
And in my opinion, the editor of the book manages very well in this challenging undertaking, crafting a rare work in which a well-rounded view of the topic is presented, maintaining at the same time, a highly rigorous tone and yet keeping it accessible to non-experts.
Among the contributors to the book Leahy gathers some of the world’s first-class people in the science and religion debate: the 2014 winner of the prestigious Carl Sagan Medal, the Jesuit, Guy J. Consolmagno; Professor of Particle Physics Stephen Barr (University of Delaware), and Fr Brendan Purcell, Adjunct Professor of Philosophy at Notre Dame University, Sidney, to mention just a few.
The book tackles fundamental issues underpinning the ever-more important debate between science and faith: Isn’t science enough to explain the reality around us? Hasn’t science disproved the need to believe in God? The book is presented as a collection of short essays grouped around three main focus points: Learning from History, Topics in Contemporary Debate, and Christian Perspectives on the Destiny of the Cosmos.
Engaging in science is one of those things that makes us human, a wonderful and powerful lens through which we can look at the ‘world (that) is charged with the grandeur of God’ 2, a gift to help us deepen the joyful mystery of reality, from the galaxies to the subatomic particles.
Faith and the Marvellous Progress of Science makes us more grateful for that gift. This book is a must for those who want to position themselves in our modern, technological and scientific world and make sense of their faith.
1 Mary Midgley, unpublished essay “Dover Beach”; cited in Nelson Rivera,
The Earth is Our Home: Mary Midgley’s Critique and Reconstruction of
Evolution and its Meanings.
Exeter: Imprint Academic, 2010, 179 n. 21
2 Gerard Manley Hopkins: Poems and Prose (Penguin Classics, 1985)
‘Faith and the Marvellous Progress of Science’
by Brendan Leahy;
ISBN 9781565485143; £12.50