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scrounge: /skrounj/ informal verb: to actively seek [books] from any available source

I'm not usually a graphic novel fan, but I've found that they can be an engaging means of entering into a story, or discovering something new. And since faith has always been a part of my life, I was intrigued to learn about a graphic novel that takes on the relationship between science and faith, called, appropriately, Science and Faith.

I've seen firsthand the antagonism that can arise when science and faith are discussed together, especially from people holding very different viewpoints on one subject or the other (and I have to include myself in this observation!). I don't get the impression that this book is out to specifically change anyone's mind about their particular view (and probably many people will not agree with every view put forward here), but it does have the potential to make us think, as well as simply to give us an appreciation of some of the scientists and theologians (and some who were both) who have helped shape this conversation over the last several hundred years.

Our fellow travelers on this journey are two real-life professors: Alfio Briguglia and Giuseppe Savagnone, who have been friends for more than seventy years. After they co-wrote a book about science and faith in Italy, Tommaso Todesca wanted to adapt it into a graphic novel -- and here it is. Alfio and Giuseppe encounter many of the greatest minds in history (most long since deceased), and their journey takes them all over Florence and London as they converse with these renowned historical figures.

Kepler, Galileo, Newton, Darwin, and others make an appearance here, as well as both Richard Dawkins and Saint Thomas Aquinas in the last section, which covers the concept of God. Don't worry -- this is no Bill and Ted's Excellent Adventure. Despite the fantastical premise, the questions and quandaries discussed and mused upon here are sincere, earnest, and will probably leave the reader with much to ponder, regardless of their exact viewpoint going in.

I appreciate that the individual characters depicted here do not always agree with each other -- Dawkins especially stands in quite obvious opposition to the religious viewpoints expressed by most others in the book, and yet his "outsider's perspective" is important to prevent this exploration from becoming too inwardly focused. While the two characters don't actually meet here (each says his piece separately) this is probably the next best thing to actually watching a (sadly impossible) debate between Richard Dawkins and Saint Thomas Aquinas.

Even though I'm Protestant, I could still appreciate the Catholic perspective here, because I do think it helps tie in the history of these great thinkers (most of whom were also Catholic) to the present day, and the questions pondered here are really for all Christians to consider, no matter where we may stand on other issues.

Aside from the discussion, the artwork here is really lovely -- nothing cheap or cartoony about it -- the landscapes draw you in, and it's easy to feel that you really are just strolling down the road in Florence or London, conversing with a long-dead ghost. I'm sure anyone who's interested in history has fantasized about getting to meet their favorite historical figures, and the more I read here, the more I saw how well the graphic novel format really does work for this -- it helps give each character their own presence and personality (I found Galileo particularly amusing), even in the short time that some of them are featured.

One of the parts that resonated with me personally was the beginning discussion in section 2, which focuses on the terms we use -- it counters the idea that faith is by definition devoid of reason, and quotes Pope John Paul II as saying, "...faith and reason cannot be split! They are like the two wings with which the human spirit rises up towards the contemplation of truth." The ending was also pretty neat, and a bit surreal. I really should read Dante sometime.

All in all, I found this book both enjoyable and intriguing, and I'd recommend it to any science/faith geek, and probably those interested in philosophy in general. While the book doesn't go into great depth or detail on any of these historical figures (there really isn't room), it's a nice introduction to many topics and controversies in the science/faith discussion, and clearly comes down with the view that yes, science and faith can and do coexist quite well.

Scrounged From: A gift

Format: Paperback
Authors: Giuseppe Savagnone, Alfio Briguglia, this edition adapted by Tommaso Todesca
Illustrator: Alexandra Festovets
Pages: 142
Content Advisory: In the fourth section, "the problem of evil" is occasionally illustrated by some images of demons/devils which may be disturbing to some children.

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