June 3, 2011

Science vs. Faith

Some say that it takes more faith to believe in evolution than it does to believe in creationism. I suppose for some, that might be true. But not for me. I use no faith to come to my understanding of how our world works and do not "believe" in evolution. It happens to be the best explanation out there given the evidence, but I'm willing to change my opinion at any time given new information. It's the same approach I give to understanding history. I don't have "faith" that things happened. I have evidence, and I change my view of history as I receive new evidence, knowing full well that most likely, whatever it is that I understand about what happened in the past is from snippets of evidence. That's not belief. Belief requires no evidence other than simply believing. For example, I believe in reincarnation - but there's no reproducible evidence for it or against it, and it can never really be known if it's true (until our species evolves enough that we can have a shared experience of the afterlife).

Some creationists are very offended when their belief that man was plunked here on Earth by the hand of God is labeled "anti-intellectual." Calling it judgmental. There are people who judge creationists for other reasons, and but calling a story believed first and then using evidence to prove it as "anti-intellectual" isn't a  judgment. For example, saying that believing in reincarnation is anti-intellectual, I am being told that I derive my opinions from belief, not my intellect, which is absolutely true. It's not a judgment, so much as discriminating understanding of how one comes to a conclusion.

It is possible to reconcile evolution and religious texts, even with an orthodox reading of them. I know enough people who do to know it's possible. One thing that I believe (and it is not scientifically proven, however I see lots of compassionate people believe this, too) is that science and religion are two sides of the same coin, coming at trying to understand our existence from two different approaches. Neither is better, but they are indeed different. I think teaching our kids this distinction is very good for them, because it allows them to be able to have their own personal beliefs (and not be threatened by others) while also being able to look objectively at the world and let the world (that many believe God created) teach us about who we are and where we can go. Without science/intellect we are lost in a bubble of inbred stories, and without belief/faith we are lost in a void of loneliness and separation from our humanity.

We need science and faith. And they are not the same. We need both scientists and spiritualists. And they are not the same. To me, the most amazing people, and the ones who are able to see what others cannot, are those who have both within them, who can separate, yet reconcile the two sides of the coin. Alan Watts, good example. Albert Einstein, another one. Pema Chodron, another one. Deepak Chopra, yet another.

It's those who divide themselves into one or the other, and then fight each other, who will always be fighting, and never growing or learning. And if there is a God, I'm sure that would make him very sad indeed.

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