On Science and Faith

THE OTHER TIGHTROPE

I’m a Christian and scientist and have spent most of my life struggling with the fact that science and faith are so often at odds with one another. The way I see it, there are many ways to observe “Truth”. Studying microbes at my bench gives me one sort of insight into truth, and my faith gives me another. My favorite way to explain this is to imagine several blindfolded persons touching different parts of an elephant – each individual could give wildly different descriptions of the elephant, yet they are all describing the same beast.

I can see where most of the struggle between science and religion comes from, however. Too many people refuse to understand that nobody has ownership of “God” or “Truth”. I especially see this from religious leaders on TV, in books, and from the pulpit. On the other hand, I’ve heard many colleagues of mine deride all religious persons as ignorant, oppressive, or self-righteous. And, yes, religion has started many wars; but are we to assume that wars would go away with the elimination of faith?

Working in science has given me the gift of interacting with individuals from diverse faiths and views of the “Divine”. I respect all of these views and often find they share much similarity with my own Christian beliefs. Faith provides me with a sense of balance, prayer a chance for meditation, and worship a time for introspection. It reminds me that I am not my own, but belong to something bigger than myself. My responsibility to this larger purpose requires me think of others as my neighbor, take care of my planet, and maintain integrity in all aspects of my life. Can one get to the same place without religious faith? I’m sure they can, but this is what works for me.

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