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National Catholic Register: On Science and Catholic Education

Posted: December 2, 2019

Writing in the National Catholic Register, Patrick J. Reilly, president and founder of the Cardinal Newman Society, considers a question often raised by Thomas Aquinas College’s prospective students: “Can a college that teaches theology and philosophy be good at teaching science?”

His answer, emphatically, is yes. Mr. Reilly goes on to survey the natural-science offerings at various schools recommended by the Newman Guide, culminating in a passage about Thomas Aquinas College. The article heavily quotes Dr. Thomas J. Kaiser, the associate dean on the New England campus, who — in addition to being an alumnus of the College — holds a Ph.D. in biology from the University of California, Los Angeles:

The Great Books education at Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California, and Northfield, Massachusetts, “requires knowledge of the principles of all the major disciplines, including math and science,” according to Dr. Thomas Kaiser, associate dean of the College in New England. … [S]tudents get a rigorous foundation in Euclidian geometry, mathematical reasoning, scientific reasoning, natural science and philosophy.

“Having a philosophical overview of the principles and methods of the sciences is excellent preparation for specialization,” says Kaiser. “Those who specialize without this preparation may unknowingly accept philosophical presuppositions without any opportunity to critically assess them.”

Kaiser explains how, in our world today, “scientists have displaced the theologians and philosophers as the supposed wise men.” He laments that “many of them are atheists, and even those that aren’t think that there is no compatibility between faith and reason.”

“Of course, this never has been the position of the Church,” says Dr. Kaiser.

Over the course of the College's history, graduates have had little difficulty moving into special fields of medicine and healthcare. Although they may need to take some prerequisite courses, the education at the College helps them to assimilate readily the new material. Alumni have been successful in all the branches of science and medicine.

In conclusion, writes Mr. Reilly, “Students can prepare for careers in the sciences while being educated from an authentically Catholic perspective. It’s a wise choice, if wisdom is the objective.”