What is the Truth? A Remarkable UST Alumnus Asked Hard Questions & Wrote a Best-Selling Book
HOUSTON, TX -- People who knew Hanna Shanar ’20 as a child would not be surprised by his accomplishments today. Houston born, he was always drawn to areas like science, medicine, math and strategy games. When he was only 8, he won a chess tournament.
Today, at 23, Shanar is still achieving the remarkable. The future cardiologist is a success in medical school in Florida, is CEO of a music label called Rap Group Management, is a budding social influencer with 33,000 followers on Instagram, and perhaps most unexpectedly, is a best-selling author of a nonfiction book titled “A Search for Truth.”
The Amazon best-seller, which came out in early September 2021, is dedicated to the University of St. Thomas-Houston and to UST Professors Dr. Shivas Amin, Dr. Samuel Condic, Dr. Theodore Rebard, Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski and Dr. Don Frohlich.
“A Search for Truth” finds common ground for science, religion and philosophy. It examines questions like “Where did the universe come from? Does God exist? What is the purpose of human life?” The engaging, thought-provoking yet light-hearted book is the result of a quest the young man began at UST. There, Shanar the scientist and mathematician, was required to also take classes in philosophy and religion. The seeming clash turned his world upside down.
“Religion wasn’t necessarily agreeing with my science classes, so, initially, I was frustrated and confused,” Shanar remembered. “When I tried to discuss scientific principles with my family members, who are firm believers, they would shut them down and say, ‘You have to have faith.’”
Loaded with questions, the magna cum laude student sought answers from his professors who challenged him with arguments and encouraged him to reason through what he was learning.
Shanar said, “Dr. Shivas Amin in Intro to Biology, who seemed to put evolution at odds with religion, was the first UST professor to challenge, teach, and motivate me. I wound up going back to his office in my third and fourth years to accrue his wisdom.”
The author credits Sr. Albert Marie Surmanski in theology with taking Genesis out of the literal context and enabling him to merge the ideas of religion and evolution. She also helped him with the compatibility of faith and reason.
Surmanski said, “I remember Hanna as a student taking in the ideas. He was just encountering this idea that faith and reason are different paths for knowing reality. It can challenge the human mind to try to discover how they fit together, but if faith is accepting real revelation from God, and reason is investigating the world correctly, the conclusions of the two can be brought together and enrich human life.”
Shanar hopes his quest in a brief book form will be helpful to others. If there is a demand, he might start a blog to facilitate conversation with people who read his book. And he suggests with a smile, “Maybe there will be a second book.”