Musings on Science and Faith

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I have read a lot of articles lately relating to the education of our young minds in regards to science and evolution. Mostly that some states have barred (or tried to bar) new scientific courses from entering schools under the argument that science teaches students to be atheist, and that is a violation of church and state. However, if these groups (primarily Christian) were given the opportunity, they would forward their agendas for the education of creationism in our schools under the argument that it would be equal representation. But if we were hoping for equal representation, wouldn’t all religion need to be taught in schools? Wouldn’t all those courses thus need to be required in the curriculum?

My problem with the argument is that those arguing against teaching science think it is somehow teaching atheism, although choosing to be an atheist (like choosing to be a Christian) is an informed decision one makes of their own free will. Some may argue that those born to atheist parents have no choice – but the same could be said for those born to Christian parents. And truly, we all have the choice. I was born to Presbyterian parents, but I choose not to practice the religion. I consider myself spiritual, but I do not confine myself to one religion or set of beliefs. That is my choice.

Science is a set of facts, or globally accepted ideologies. Gravity is a fact – whether you choose to believe that gravity keeps your feet planted on the earth or not is your choice, although denouncement of such a fact makes you look foolish, when you have been educated to the why and how. Evolution is a globally accepted ideology, backed by scientific evidence. Things like fossils and species growth inform this ideology. It is, to use a term within a definition, an ideology that is constantly evolving, especially in regards to humanity.

These facts don’t mean that one cannot believe in a divine power, God, whatever you want to call it. For some, these facts simply inform their faith, rather than take from it. Their faith evolves with their knowledge; it does not deteriorate because of it.

I knew a girl in high school who was embedded in her faith, by choice, although her parents were very religious as well. I remember when we first learned about the “Big Bang,” that tiny spark at the back end of creation that made us all. She asked many questions, our sixth grade teacher patiently answering each one with grace. I remember her eyes lighting uo with understanding – an “ah ha!” moment, if you will. But she didn’t suddenly turn away from her God, or denounce her faith. This idea shifted her understanding of creation, certainly. But it did not take away from it.

In tenth grade, we had an English class together. We were asked to write a story or essay about a topic of our choosing. She chose to write hers about creation. Everyone knew her as someone who was religious, and being teenagers many of us rolled our eyes. But those four years of learning science had informed her faith so fully that she chose to write an essay on why she believed in God, and also believed in evolution.

She wrote about the Big Bang as that moment when God burst into existence – “Maybe,” she wrote “he caused the Big Bang.” She theorized that if God caused or was created in the Big Bang, then maybe he left a seed of creation for us to grow from. Instead of us having no choice in our lives -“Fate” as some may call it- He chose to plant the seed and leave us to our free will. She said it gave her relief to think her God may have trusted us enough to make our own mistakes.

Either way, the thought that scientific education is under scrutiny from religious groups terrifies me. There is no reason to believe science will ever “turn” someone against their faith. It is an objective knowledge. Faith is best kept to churches – we can choose to go to which (or none) that we please. They each have their own devotional line of subjective learning. Science is objective. It serves no purpose but to explain and help us understand ourselves and the world we are a part of. Faith, if we choose to follow it, serves to give us some idea of what we don’t know: emotional things, life, death. We can’t explain why good people die young, or why things aren’t always fair. So sometimes, faith gives us that shoulder to lean on, for some quiet understanding of the things we can’t really explain.

Why is there no room for compromise anymore? There is no gray area, only an “us versus them” mentality. That frightens me, because humanity has the potential to be understanding and compassionate, maleable and sympathetic.  What happened to that?

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