The Science of Religion

It always gets on my nerves when people try to claim that science disproves religion, or that science and religion contradict one another, or that people who are religious are ignorant or foolish when it comes to scientific data. I find it incredibly ironic that it is often the very people who boast about how open-minded they are that tend to be the most closed-minded when it comes to accepting that there could be more than one valid approach to understanding or thinking about any given issue.

Now, I’m not here to prove or disprove anyone’s point of view. I’m sure there will be plenty of people who disagree with the way I see things, but the point is that while there are many spheres of life in which people will never reach agreement, it’s important for people to at least try to understand where others are coming from without just jumping to conclusions and branding people with different stereotypes without even hearing them out.

I would consider myself a committed Catholic with strong beliefs in God. I have also spent the last three years of my life studying at university with a major in Biology and a minor in social sciences. I have taken subjects covering things such as genetics, evolution and cosmology (the scientific study of the creation of the universe), as well as several subjects that have involved the academic study of religion. A lot of people are surprised by the apparent conflict between my choice of major and my faith, and question how I reconcile my religious beliefs with my academic interests. I am always surprised that so many people seem to think this is a problem.  No one ever asks the same question to people following a lot of other career paths, and personally, I have never felt a contradiction between science and religion. If anything, my study of science only reinforces my religious beliefs.

In high school, maths and science were amongst my favourite subjects. The way I saw it, studying these subjects was like studying the language of the Divine. I saw, and continue to see, science not as evidence against a Creator, but rather as a way of understanding the blueprints of how God put everything into motion. I remember being in such awe of God and of His creation the first time I learnt in biology class about how life evolved from enzymes and amino acids produced in random chemical reactions to the first cells and eventually through to complex organisms capable of abstract thought. I find it harder to believe that our existence is due to a long string of random and progressive coincidences than due to something greater than ourselves influencing and guiding the process. My reaction to studying cosmology was similar, and perhaps greater – after all, life could never have existed without first having a universe to exist in.

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