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I stared blankly at the green, glossy cover of my environmental science textbook. My eyebrows furrowed and I squirmed in my seat. All those years of Judaic studies continuously slapped me in the face, as I conjured up vivid memories of praying every morning with the school's congregation and reciting D'Var Torah in class. I also recollected clear images of being scolded for "immodesty" as my denim skirt was an inch shorter than what the private school's dress code entailed. Just then, as I snapped out of my moment of nostalgic flashback, my environmental science teacher was rapidly scribbling the theories of Darwin's Evolution and The Big Bang upon the chalkboard, indicating that religious creation stories are unaccepted by the science community. I wasn't surprised--I already knew that. It was the overwhelming uncertainty that came over me, and the first time I thought, "what if we're all wrong?" There was one end of the spectrum whispering into my ear all the scientifically proven phenomena from the moment the earth was just a fiery ball of noxious gases up until the time when its soil became fruitful. Then on the other end of the spectrum were the Old Testament scriptures I grew up with: Adam and Eve, Cain and Abel, Noah and the Ark, chanting in my ear. However, the two angels on my shoulders were not the ones poking fun at me; rather it was the devilish realization that I could not foresee the after-life. It wasn't as easy as phoning Moses and inquiring, "Hey, so how's heaven going for ya? " Thus, I came to the acceptance that there are certain things that this world cannot explain to anyone, let alone me. After all, they are called theories for a reason. However, I still could not use this realization as an excuse for ignoring my conflict of faith. I knew I had to pick one over the other; I had to find a purpose behind all the words.
Most of the frustration came with being unsure of who I really was, so I kept thinking about all these stories that flooded my memory and how they actually related to me. If I removed all the frills, Adam and Eve would be simply a story about temptation, while Cain and Abel would be about jealousy: two conjoined human traits. If I did the same with The Ten Commandments, I'd get a simple set of guidelines that forbids three immoralities: murder, robbery, and adultery. All these perplexing stories were just simple life-lessons and relative interpretations of human nature. I came to the realization that they weren't taught to me for the sake of being taught, rather for the sake of my well-being and morality.
Another aspect of the frustration came with swallowing the scientific theories in a way that would allow me to perceive both the secular and spiritual realms together. I always embraced the idea that conducting scientific experiments was and still is the key to unraveling the mysteries of the world, like exotic species, diseases, and ancient artifacts. With biology, I could learn how to stay physically healthy; with psychology, I could learn how to stay mentally stable; and with environmental science, I could learn how to keep my surroundings secure. It suddenly made sense to me that I could learn more about my own physical self in relation to the environment, through science. Although I could never be completely certain about theories regarding the past, I am still able to make my own observations and inferences from the present.
I then knew what it meant to have conflicting beliefs and how to compensate between the two, without rejecting one for the other. With these two different but united ways of grasping life, it was almost as if I carried two handbooks: one a moral code and the other a green, glossy textbook. Except this time, my eyebrows didn't furrow anymore.





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