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By Stacy Trasancos, The Catholic Thing, March 28, 2020
Stacy Trasancos is the Executive Director of Bishop Joseph Strickland’s St. Philip Institute in Tyler, TX. . She is the author of Particles of Faith: A Catholic Guide to Navigating Science and the mother of seven.
I finally unplugged from social media and COVID-19 recently and sat down to talk with my husband about what it means to be a leader at a time like this. I said something about having “intuition” and he called it “doing the calculus.” I stopped him: “What do you mean when you say do the calculus?” He’s an applied mathematician. I’m a chemist, who took a liking to dogmatic theology. I suspected that there’s a lot in that little phrase to unpack.
When we met, I was not religious. I never called myself an atheist, but I was definitely a materialist. To me, “doing the calculus” meant analyzing how something changes in response to something else changing, or in more complex systems how systems change in response to other systems changing.
In chemistry, you go from considering bonds between atoms to systems of atoms in systems of substances and their kinetics and thermodynamics. Chugging through the calculus, you acquire the skill, the intuition, of a chemist. You learn to manipulate an isolated set of systems to make something you want. (I made Lycra®️ for DuPont.) ….