Religion, Science, and Silence This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.

October 18, 2017
I am in love with science. I smile like a fool just saying the phrase, because there is so much to admire, I can’t help but allow a little awe to spill over. Words cannot properly convey the tragically beautiful and impactful discoveries we have made by pursuing science. The adjective “diverse” seems too weak to describe the innumerable paths one may take in helping to solve the mysteries of our world – after all, everything is in our reach. We invest in both the complex galaxy of cells we are made of, as well as the silent, incomprehensible quantities of space that surround us. We are not restricted. We are never finished.

In addition to my passion for science, there is another part of me that I hold even dearer to my heart, one that I want to share with a burning desire. My religion.

However, in most conversations, at the mention of religion, the light in my companions’ eyes goes dim. Disappointment, discomfort, and sometimes even annoyance flicker across their face. In those moments, I steel myself, hurt yet not wanting to show it. The person, whoever they may be, will often apologize, explaining that they don’t wish to get into a debate about beliefs. Even when I know the other person holds very different religious views than mine, I never feel that these exchanges are negative or offensive. They are only trying to avoid a delicate topic, and don’t want conflicting beliefs to harm our relationship. What does trouble me, however, is that they feel this way in the first place.

In modern times, religion seems to provoke feelings born from thousand-year-old conflicts, leading either to polite rejection or complete mayhem. Most of us assume that the subject creates nothing but negativity and that it is right to never bring it up. This aversion to such a large cultural component is unnecessary, and it is our responsibility as the world’s future adults to ensure that this trend doesn’t continue.

To illustrate what removing religion from socially acceptable topics would encompass, allow me to return to the subject of science. By definition, science is the study of the natural and physical world through experimentation and observation. Using the analogy of popular youth speaker Matt Fradd, it is the flashlight we use to discover the room (meaning, our world) around us. But it is incapable of disproving anything that lies outside of the area. In other words, through science, we learn about the natural world, and we recognize it, yet it does not mean we can assume there is nothing beyond it. Therein lies the issue – why are we able to discuss differences in interpretations of the natural world, but are incapable of doing so when the supernatural is involved? Religion includes both faith and reason, refusing to reject the physical world but allowing it to bolster our beliefs in a higher power. It is necessary for understanding our world and what lies beyond it – including all possibilities and accepting every human’s free will to accept or reject what another might consider the truth.

Volunteering in a hospice on a sunny Saturday morning, I recently had the pleasure of meeting a girl my own age, with whom I spoke for an hour or so. We discussed our interest in the health care field, and found that the sciences were something we both enjoyed. The topic soon shifted to religion. Because of my Indian heritage, she had assumed that I was either a Muslim or a Hindu, and was surprised to know that my family had been Catholics for generations. She had chosen an agnostic point of view, and an insightful experience followed. We each talked of our beliefs, listening to the other and asking questions, offering our thoughts without forcing our beliefs on each other. I told her that I believe in a God that respects the free will of every person, and that He wants only to reach every heart, offering them the choice to accept Him or not. She told me of her struggle with finding truth, and that she was open to new ideas and beliefs but did not know what to trust in just yet. After we completed our work, we parted ways, each more informed and neither offended.

This girl and I had talked about both the factual and spiritual without arguing or laughing at differing points of view. One aspect flowed into the other, and we were able to speak of religion as we had science, not falling into awkward silence or angry quarreling. I truly hope that I will be given the chance to have other conversations like that one, or to at least see a change in how faith and reason are perceived today.

I realize that many might argue that the discussion of religion cannot be compared to how science is discussed, as religion and science are completely different. I disagree wholeheartedly; science and religion cannot be separated, as each plays a role within the other. As the late Pope John Paul II stated, “Science can purify religion from error and superstition. Religion can purify science from idolatry and false absolutes.” The two are more similar than most believe, and they certainly do not contradict each other.

I am not capable of speaking for others. The point I am making may be something that another person of faith disagrees with. What I am sure of, however, is that religion is not a topic we should be afraid of talking about with others. I would love to live in a world in which I am able to speak of my passions – science and religion – and pursue both. But in order to create such a world, in which faith is spread but not forced, persecuted, or looked down upon, we must be brave enough to talk about it.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.

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WritingAddict03This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. said...
Nov. 1 at 6:03 pm
This is the best opinion piece I have read in a long time! Your evidence, logic, and reasoning were spot on and you made many points that, as someone who agrees with and has always believed what you wrote, I never would have thought of. For example, I loved how you compared discussing scientific beliefs to discussing religious beliefs: that was awesome! Your writing was clear, organized and well thought out; seriously the best written piece ever! (I get the feeling that you probably want to purs... (more »)
lizmaria140This teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Nov. 9 at 5:10 pm
Wow––thank you for the kind words and for taking the time to write such a thorough review! Who knows, maybe I will pursue writing in the future. :) (and YAY, another person who adores JP2!) I'm glad you liked it, because I think it's something that needed to be said. So thanks again! :)
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