Is It Ok to be a Scientist and Still Have Faith?
I was about to enter my first class in college, a religion course that has a scientific twist to it. I was nervous and intrigued by this class. Religion and science weren't two subjects one would normally put together. They were generally perceived to be opposing view points, but the description of this class said that it would make us explore deeper than the usual debate and possibly even make a few of us question our own beliefs. I wanted to know what it was that this professor could possibly tell me that could make me believe in a god, even if I didn't think he'd be able to get through to me. It would be a good thing to try and, if nothing else, it fulfilled my religion credit.
As I walked into what I thought would be a lecture hall I was surprised. The room was about the same size as a room in my high school. I didn't think a whole lot of people would take this class, but I expected it to still be large enough to fill a lecture hall. With how small the class was bound to be I was surprised that it was still offered.
I found an empty seat and set up my computer, then took a look around the room. There were seven other kids sitting around looking much like I did. A couple were a few years older than me, but no one was above twenty-five in the class. The professor wasn't in the room. I glanced at the clock and sighed. It was only a minute until class was supposed to start. My professor was going to be late for the first class.
As the clock ticked down its final seconds the lights dimmed and a projector turned on to show us a blank screen. The professor was still no where to be seen, but class had most definitely started.
Some people believe in god, the speaker said as the movie started, While others believe in science, but how many believe in both?
With this the screen began to swirl, appearing to suck us into vortex of color and light. When it stopped we were looking at a peaceful scene of deer grazing in a field of grass and wildflowers. When you look at these deer what do you think created them? Was it just a mishap? Or did some mysterious being make them this way? Or was it maybe even a combination of both? The screen warped again and we were traveling through the universe, looking at different planets, stars, nebulas and other such objects. Are we the only life forms out there, as many religions suggest, or are we one planet of many that has life, as science suggests? For the next nine weeks we will be exploring the phenomena of science, religion and their interconnectedness.
The video turned off and I blinked a few times as the light came on. Where the movie had been there was now a single question on the board followed by some instructions.
Is it ok to be a scientist and still have faith?
Introduce yourself and discuss.
This was definitely not what I had expected from my first college course. A boring lecture, lots of note taking, a professor that was actually present…
One of my classmates, a man that appear to be another incoming freshman, stood up, "Well, I'm not exactly sure what the professor wants us to do, but I'll take a stab at it. I'm Josh and I don't think its possible to be a scientist and still have faith. I think its one or the other. They just don't seem to go together. Either God created everything in one day or there's evolution. There's not much of a grey area."
Josh sat down and I thought about what he said. It was a pretty standard answer and didn't really give us many places to go with the conversation.
Another man, a few years older than me, stood up, "I'm Frederick . I agree. It's either you are correct and you believe in the science, or your wrong and you believe in the religion."
He sat down and a girl stood up, "Hi, I'm Lily. I just want to say that I agree and I'm not really sure where this conversation is going if no one else thinks anything else."
Another guy stood up, "I'm Jamie and I think that religion and science can be brought together as one. Who's to say that God didn't create the rules of science? Who's to say that that he hasn't decided that we need these rules to give us peace?"
As Jamie sat down the room just stared at him, struck silent. None of us had ever thought about it that way.
Eventually the silence was broken by a sputtering figure across the room. "That's.. that's just absurd," the guy said, "I mean, would God make rules for humans? Why bother with them. If he makes rules for us, then he has to follow them."
"Who says that he has to follow them?" the girl next to me asked, "Haven't you ever heard of a miracle? These rules aren't just for humans either, they're for everything."
"I think you two are forgetting something," the girl sitting next to Jamie told them as she stood up, "I'm Mila and I'm not sure what to think. All sides have a good argument and I want to hear all of it out and make a decision."
The man stood up again, "Since I forgot, I'm Hideki and in response to this lovely lady, I don't believe in miracles, although I would like to hear more about your beliefs."
The other girl got up again, "I'm Sakura and I believe in these miracles because I've seen them. I also believe in the power of science."
Jamie spoke again, "Does anyone here believe in religion instead of science?"
Josh stood. "I do. Why would so many different religions believe it if it wasn't true?"
"What about you?" he asked, looking at me, the only person who had yet to speak.
I stood up and began speaking with a lopsided grin, ready to reveal my hand, "Well, Professor J. Blackburn, I'm Koushiro and I believe in science and science only at this point, but I wanted to take this course so that I could find out more about this idea and see how this changes me."
My professor looked at me, his eyes bright and praised me, "Very good, Koushiro. How did you figure it out?"
"You were directing the conversation, no matter how subtlety," I replied with a shrug.
"I am indeed Professor James Blackburn, but call me Jamie. I'm glad to hear all your views on the subject of science and religion and I would like to continue on with this discussion, but we need to get started on changing them right away."
I sat back down with the warm feeling of victory in my chest and began typing. I had a feeling that if anyone could change my mind, it would be Jamie.