Joseph and I sat down at the cafeteria lunch table. We had just learned about Christianity in sixth grade social studies, and we decided to continue our discussion at lunch.
“The Bible says that God created the Earth, but science has proven that it was the Big Bang. Do Christians not believe in science?” I furrowed my eyebrows.
He frowned. “Not necessarily — it doesn’t have to be that way. They could both be true in different ways.”
I shook my head. Whatever, I thought. “Well then what about God’s existence? Nothing has been proven about God.” How can people believe this? Is he gullible?
“Well science hasn’t disproved it. And besides, most of the Christians I know, including me, don’t necessarily take the word of the Bible word for word. It’s the idea of Christianity that’s more important.”
After my discussion with Joseph in middle school, I still felt a contradiction between science and religion. Only one could be true; the scientific theory had been proven, but the Christian theory hadn’t.
Four years later, at high school in Exeter, I had the opportunity to meet so many diverse people from different backgrounds and religions. I knew that Gavin, a Christian in my dorm, was highly religious, so I felt that I could learn a lot from an interview with him. He would provide very different points of view from me regarding science and religion in an intellectual discussion like my one with Joseph years ago.
Gavin and I sat in the dining hall. “Science and religion conflict only when people really want to take everything that is written in the Bible as 100 percent fact,” he said. “The stories held within them may not all represent the absolute truth.”
I put my hand to my chin, thinking back to my original thoughts about religious people and religions, and my discussion with Joseph four years ago.
“I also feel that there are things science can’t explain that religion can, like the afterlife. Christianity isn’t here to disprove science. It’s here to answer the questions that science can’t.”
The more he talked, the more I realized that religious people could believe in science for some aspects of their lives and religion for other aspects, and that I may have been wrong.
“Personally, I have never been skeptical of the existence of God or anything scientific. I definitely think that evolution exists, and I don’t think that God created the universe in seven days.”
As my discussion with Gavin continued, I learned that Gavin believed everything science told him, but looked to religion for topics that science didn’t answer, like the end of time. I learned that he thought many of the stories in the Bible are there to set a moral standard to live by, and that the stories are true in their messages and morals, not necessarily their fact. He also told me that religion can help provide guidance in a way that many other things cannot.
Through talking with Gavin, I learned two things that changed my own beliefs— the first was that science and religion didn’t have to oppose each other. He taught me that for some, religion answered the questions that science could not. As someone who believes in science and proof, I know that there have been and will be ideas that humans do not know about. There has always been the question of the existence of a god or gods; science has yet to prove or disprove that. However, religion can try to answer that. I was too hasty and ignorant in my beliefs on science and religion — I used to think that you have to look at everything in a scientific way, that I failed to see that science and religion could coexist for some people. Following my interview with Gavin, I became aware that to religious people, you can’t apply the scientific method to faith. Religion cannot be proven because it is based on faith.
Furthermore, it had never occurred to me that someone could believe in science and religion at the same time. I always thought that Christian’s beliefs contradicted fact, but Gavin was proof of a person who believed in both.
Secondly, I realized that for many people, it helps to believe in a god or gods and a religion for guidance and for learning morals. Before this interview, I had rarely thought of religion as something that helps people have hope if they are down. Despite that, I learned that praying to God when Gavin had cancer helped him believe that he could recover, which helped him have the strength to get through the tough time. I learned that the stories of the Bible are there to promote morals, not always to state an absolute truth. For Gavin, he thinks the Christian stories have improved him as a person.
In conclusion, my interview with Gavin taught me that science and religion could coexist, and that believing in religion didn’t make someone stupid. Additionally, religion does not only offer answers to some about the questions that science doesn’t seek to answer, but it also provides guidance and promotes morals. When I was in middle school, I always saw a divide between science and religion. Back then, Joseph told me a few of the things Gavin told me, but I was too stubborn to see a religious person’s point of view until after my talk with Gavin. From my interview, I have learned more about what I believe and think of religion. Through more discussions with others and about religion, I hope to learn even more about what others and I think and believe in.