Thursday, February 10, 2011

Atheists and fundamentalists have something in common... pissing me off!

Dear people of the world,

Okay. Let's get something straight. Religion is not science. And science is not religion. They address completely different questions.

I'm tired of Christians (and other religious people) acting like science has no value. But I'm also tired of atheists who act like all religious people are idiots and deserve to be told that their beliefs have no value.

Here's the thing: religion and science are not mutually exclusive. I'll say it again. RELIGION AND SCIENCE ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE.

One answers questions about how the world works. And the other answers questions (or at least attempts to answer them) about what it means to be a person and, generally, how to be a good person. Hopefully you can figure out for yourself which is which.

As a scientist and a Christian, I'm sick of hearing religious fundamentalists discount science. I'm also sick of atheists discounting religious beliefs (perhaps you would be more comfortable if I just referred to them as a philosophy). For the religious fundamentalists: stop treating theological texts like they're scientific/historical texts! The Bible (or Torah or Koran) is not now and never has been a science book. Acknowledging that it is not literally true does not take away from the moral lessons that can be obtained from it. (And guess what? "Cherry picking" is what we all do, and it's not actually that bad.) Science is not out to get you and your beliefs. Science is based on real, observable facts and testable, falsifiable hypotheses. Incidentally, religious beliefs in the existence of a God are neither testable nor falsifiable, and so do not qualify as scientific (which is why Intelligent Design should never be taught in science classes). Just because I'm a scientist does not mean I don't believe in God. For the atheists: stop acting like you're so much better than believers because you choose not to believe. Just because I'm a Christian does not mean I don't accept scientific truth (or as close to truth as you can get in science). Here's the way I see it: you're like the first kid in class who finds out Santa isn't actually a real person, and then you have to tell all the other kids that what they're believing isn't true. Except, if you watch the Christmas specials, it quickly becomes apparent (at least, it does to me) that Santa doesn't have to have existence in this reality to have power. That idea of doing something for someone else, of sacrificing your own time and energy to make others happy, of helping other people have a better life and see a little magic in the world, is what Santa is about. I'm sorry that you refuse to believe in any sort of "non-real", "non-scientific" phenomenon, but I choose to see magic and beauty and meaning in life, because I'm a human and it makes me feel connected to other humans (and other life). I'll listen to your belief (or lack thereof) in a deity, if you'll listen to my (admittedly not entirely clear even to myself sometimes) beliefs. But my choosing to continue to believe in a Santa of some sort does not give you the right to treat me like I'm stupid. Yes, I have faith. And I'm happy to continue with my faith. My continued belief in God does not harm you, and as such it is none of your business. It is between myself and the God I choose to belief in. I don't need you to act like my admission of belief is an invitation for you to try and prove to me why I shouldn't believe. I don't treat your admission of non-belief as an invitation for me to try and convert you to my faith. I'm sorry if other religious believers have treated it that way, but I will not. Please return the favor.

One final time: RELIGION. IS. NOT. SCIENCE. AND. SCIENCE. IS. NOT. RELIGION. They are not mutually exclusive.


PS - I think that Santa analogy kind of got away from me there... It did come off rather "Yes, Virginia, there is a Santa Claus". Granted, I obviously support that idea, so...

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