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Welcome to Belovedgems, a blog about building a bridge between faith and mental health. The author rooted in her faith , her old-soul leads her into adventures to seek spreading hope into the world through a couple of written words.

Science Vs God

By: Federico P.

Early in my career as an undergraduate student in the sciences, I was scared.

As a Christian coming into a field dominated by what looks like scientists whose noses are so far into the atheist handbook, they would hate me for expressing belief in anything greater than the scientific method. I saw on the internet that prominent scientists like Richard Dawkins, Neil Degrasse Tyson, Bill Nye, and Daniel Dennett all expressed atheistic views. Certain leaders in the field seemed hateful towards believers and treated all religious thought or expression as an attack on science’s dominance on rational thought. They regularly commented on rituals or dogmas held by religious folk and attacked public religious leaders’ influence. Dr. Victor Stenger, a best-selling author, and physicist, writes in Huffington blog post that “Science and religion are fundamentally incompatible”. I was entering this world, a world I saw full of arrogant atheists and an in your face attitude towards belief.

When I would go to church I hoped to be in a place where I could get relief from these ideas. I remember talking to a friend in youth group tell me “You’re going to be walking into a dark place.” A few weeks later we had a guest speaker tell the congregation something along the line of “Scientists are wrong! The Bible is the truth and Satan’s greatest tool is misinformation.” As if when you start thinking that the Bible isn’t the complete answer to how the physical world works then you might as well be parting from God. Even today you still find pastors attacking scientific theories as if they were witchcraft. Dr. Robert Jeffress, the far-right pastor of a Dallas megachurch, draws the line very clear in saying that “Evolution…is a religious philosophy that makes no allowance for God in either the origin of life or even the diversity of life”. So if I accept something supported by science then I’m condemned. The church I saw couldn’t accept someone who has anything to do with the sciences. This was me in 2014. Freshly discovering my own spirituality (one that didn’t stem from my parents), and studying microbiology with the hopes of going all the way to MD/PhD. In this I was forced to pick a side, or put up with attacks on both fronts. I found philosophers who were talking about reconciliation but even then they were from over half a century ago.

I’m currently reading a book by Francis Collins on his experiences with coming to faith. He mentions the choice some young believers who want to enter the sciences are forced to make. He writes “What a terrible and unnecessary choice they then face! To adhere to the faith of their childhood, they are required to reject a broad and rigorous body of scientific data, effectively committing intellectual suicide. Presented with no other alternative than Creationism, is it any wonder that many of these young people turn away from faith, concluding they simply cannot believe in a God who would ask them to reject what science has so compellingly taught us about the natural world?”

In the spring semester of 2015 I signed up for a Principles of Biology course and its associated lab component. It was an informative but dry course. The lab component was taught by a graduate student studying marine biology. I make it a habit of becoming friendly with my course instructors, and sometimes it’s actually reciprocated. She was a kind, black-haired, and short. She loved classic rock and would play it while we did our experiments. Sometimes I would ask her questions about her life and why she liked marine bio. We would laugh about different topics. I would tell her that fish were boring and she would tell me I was going to sit in front a microscope all my life. She was open with me and I appreciated that.

One day I was thinking about these conflicting sides of faith and science. I walked into the lab and did my work with these thoughts clouding my mind. Towards the end of the period I see her that arm had some marking on it. I thought I recognized them as Hebrew. I kept to my work. At the end of the period I was packing up and was the last in the class. As she was putting things away she walked past me and I saw the symbols again. I decide to ask her and she cheerfully lets me know they are some Hebrew letters that commemorated the beginning of Passover. I was delighted to hear that she was Jewish. Hearing that she had some kind of spirituality was exciting and knowing her allowed me to ask her about it. We started talking for about an hour about faith and science.

I felt comfortable asking her questions and had the feeling she would be honest with me. I revealed what I had been experiencing and how I felt I had to hide myself on both sides. She starting telling me about how a lot of biology professors here on campus were deeply religious. How we live in the United States and that in itself meant most of the student are religious to some degree. I started putting the pieces together. She assured me people are nicer than stereotypes and the media paint them out to be. I had no reason to fear.
After that talk it took me a while but I let some of those walls down and to my surprise people were really responsive. I was tricked into this idea that believers can’t be scientists and vice versa. When I was younger I thought that as a christian you can only be certain jobs. Like laborers, educators, politicians, missionaries etc. People who directly worked with other people where you could preach spread the good news. But why? Where would that have gotten us? It would have given us an even greater divide than we have now. If we are truly to be the Christians to go all corners of the earth (Mark 16:15), then why are we limited to certain professions? We aren’t.

When I started being more open about being a Christian I saw others around me be more open about their faith. I wasn’t the only one who saw how science complemented spirituality. To me, the scientific world was painted as a place where you would be attacked if you share your faith. That was my single story.

I became more open in the church too, and to my surprise, people were actually responsive as well. A lot of people shared my views on certain things and they didn’t see me a devil-spawn as a result.

I think of how naive I was to think the way I did. I was using a few people to dictate how I saw a whole group and what they would think of me. People deserve more credit than that. People are intense, complex, diverse, and beautiful creatures. They have their own story and each one is uniquely different.

My life and story led me to believe that to be accepted I needed to hide a major part of myself. As ridiculous and immature as I see myself as being, I understand that I wanted to be accepted. It makes sense. The problem lies in that to be accepted that way I needed to reject myself.

As Christians, we are called to be the light on a hill. We are supposed to spread hope and love and joy. Only by finding someone who was comfortable in sharing their faiths did I see the opportunity to share mine.

Now I find a confident Christian who has little fear in whether others will reject me for what I think and believe. I have that right. This is what all Christians should do. Be open Christians.
For many people you may be the only opportunity to meet a genuine real-life Christian, and that comes with its own responsibilities. If you don’t show them a good example then maybe their only view into our world is the Westboro Baptist church or prosperity preachers. Or worse, you reemphasize bad stereotypes about us. That we are hypocritical, ignorant, and hateful.

When we shine our light, as others did to me, it gives others the opportunity to shine their own.

In the end the fighting between spirituality and science exists but I think that’s because there is a silent group of scientists who don’t their voice loud enough. Francis Collins and Paul Davies can’t do it all. Conflict will arise when people feel there is reason to fight, or when one group attacks another. I have found people on both sides who saw me as either an ignorant believer or a fallen Christian. They are few and far between. I can’t look at them and then make a judgment on the whole group. To quote one of my favorite pastors, Dan Carroll: “There is a theological term for that: Stupid”.

When Jesus told to be light and salt (Mathew 5:13-14). He wasn’t talking about just in the churches. We don’t need more echo chambers on this earth. We are supposed to be the light and salt in the offices, classrooms, galleries, courtrooms, labs, hospitals, rail-yards, everywhere! If we truly believe in the great commission then it begins whenever we step out of the house. Not by being pushy and shoving bibles in everyone’s pockets, but by being kind and open.

You can be an open Christian and a singer or a psychologist or a physical trainer or an engineer or even a scientist. It’s a shame it took me so long to figure that out, but now I know I can be myself no matter where I am or who I’m with. Hopefully, that lets me be a light to people. Hopefully, I can be what that graduate student was for me, someone who is so kind and sure of themselves that they don’t feel they have to shrink to be accepted by me. (Romans 15:5-7)

 “There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won't feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It's not just in some of us; it's in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others”
Marianne Williamsonfrom A Return To Love: Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles

About the Author: Federico better known as Fede is a young man whose passion drives him in pursuing his calling as a medical doctor. Fede's love for God is demonstrated by the way he listens to others. Fede enjoys hiking, being active and some quality time with those he loves. You can connect with Fede by clicking on the picture above the post that will lead you to his IG account.
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