Dear Christians, You Can Have Both Religion AND Science

cosmosI guess I should preface this article with the disclaimer that I am now an atheist. Or at least an agnostic, I’m not really sure to be honest with you. For the record, I was raised in a very conservative Catholic environment and dealt with some of the most incredibly insane religious people, including those who actually taught their children from textbooks that claimed man and dinosaur walked together or that Noah’s flood was responsible for the extinction of Tyrannosaurus Rex.

Over and over again, we were told that the world was created in 6 days and that questioning the inconsistencies and flawed logic in the Bible that even a young child could see was a sin. How dare some child with a basic understanding of science and math point out that the rate at which a river carved itself through a mountain valley couldn’t happen in just a few thousand years? Or how about the fact that there was no possible way that all the current species on this planet could have ever fit, let alone coexisted, on Noah’s Ark?

I’m not going blame people for wanting to believe in an almighty being that is conveniently responsible for helping them find their car keys, helping them score game-winning touchdowns or somehow managing to just miss a traffic jam. That’s their right and this is America where you can believe in anything you want, and it is protected by the 1st Amendment – even if it is rather dumb and egotistical.

What I do have a problem with is the people who want to stick their head in the sand and scream that science is a liberal plot to destroy their god and religious beliefs, all while trying to force those same things on others. Over and over again, science has proven that our world and the universe itself is far larger and far older than any religious text has ever admitted to. Yet, instead of embracing the vastness of space and time and possibly being awed at their deity being far greater and more powerful than their ancient texts could have ever imagined, these religious people rush to shove their god into a little box that makes sense to them. Carl Sagan said it best in Pale Blue Dot: A Vision of the Human Future in Space:

In some respects, science has far surpassed religion in delivering awe. How is it that hardly any major religion has looked at science and concluded, “This is better than we thought! The Universe is much bigger than our prophets said, grander, more subtle, more elegant. God must be even greater than we dreamed”? Instead they say, “No, no, no! My god is a little god, and I want him to stay that way.”

Our understanding of the universe has increased dramatically over the past few centuries and we now know that the sun doesn’t rotate around the earth, that the earth is not flat and that there are an infinite number of planets in the known universe that could support intelligent life. We’ve learned through science how to prevent and even eliminate diseases that were almost 100% fatal just a century or two ago.

Yet, religion has failed to keep up with science and has tried over and over again to discredit science instead of embracing it. Whether it was the Catholic Church trying to silence Galileo or Ken Ham repeating his ludicrous claims over and over again while debating Bill Nye, religion and science have gone together like cats and dogs for centuries, but it doesn’t have to be that way.

As science has shown our world and universe to be far more complex than the shepherds and fishermen of biblical times could have ever imagined, religion – and most of the people who believe in it – have failed to keep up. It is possible to accept science AND also believe in some sort of force that perhaps created all of this, that set all of this vast universe in motion billions of years ago. How much more incredible would that being be instead of the petty, vindictive, jealous deity of the Judeo-Christian tradition? And if such an almighty being does exist, it is that, almighty and far beyond our human understanding. It is not a god that demanded a father sacrifice his only son to prove his utter obedience and it is certainly not a god that would ever side with Pat Robertson or care what adult humans do with each others’ reproductive organs.

I am an atheist because I believe that if all that we know was created by a supernatural being, it is much bigger and more wonderful than the god of Christians, Jews and Muslims. I am an atheist for a lack of evidence but I’ll be more than happy to change my mind if and when that evidence is proven by science. As for the believers, perhaps you should embrace scientific findings instead of repeating the same old “but the Bible says!” line over and over again. It might make people start taking you – and your religion – a little more seriously.

The size and age of the Cosmos are beyond ordinary human understanding. Lost somewhere between immensity and eternity is our tiny planetary home. In a cosmic perspective, most human concerns seem insignificant, even petty. And yet our species is young and curious and brave and shows much promise. In the last few millennia we have made the most astonishing and unexpected discoveries about the Cosmos and our place within it, explorations that are exhilarating to consider. They remind us that humans have evolved to wonder, that understanding is a joy, that knowledge is prerequisite to survival. I believe our future depends powerfully on how well we understand this Cosmos in which we float like a mote of dust in the morning sky. – Carl Sagan


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  • Emora

    I love science. I love the theory of Evolution. One day, this fish looks up at the shore and thinks “I could get there, but how?” Legs evolve. Darwin’s finches. Ebola, one of the oldest organisms on Earth. The fact that we share over 90% of our DNA with chimps. I also believe in God, but I understand that Bible was written by men, typically ignorant men, who were trying to explain things about which they knew nothing. So I guess I’m a Christian who believes in science. Great piece, Manny.

    • James

      and you think that fish lived long enough to see his self grow legs that’s funny. You call yourself a christian but your heart is far from God… You don’t believe the Bible…. If those people knew nothing how did the prophecies come true and still coming true…. be ye also ready

      • real_world_truth

        How nice it is for you, James, that you are now God and can judge the hearts of others. You’ll pardon me, but in that case, I’m going to have faith in the Flying Spaghetti Monster. Hey, Groucho, the secret word is hypocrisy, and you reek of it. Either walk the walk or shut up trying to talk the talk. Your belief does not trump anyone else’s.

      • Lauren Lagergren

        She’s more of a Christian than you’ll ever be because she is willing to learn…and you’re willing to judge. Those so-called prophecies are made up….what proof is there that any of it happened except for this one book? Science is about having other verification than what someone wrote about in one book. Grow up!

    • Gary Menten

      Much of mainstream Christianity, including the Church of England, even most of the Catholic Church now accept evolution.

    • Lauren Lagergren

      Thank you, Emora, for being intelligent and using your brain.

  • Guest

    I love all of your articles. I read every single one you post. But I need to point out that “agnosticism” is not actually a belief. Being THEIST means believing in a higher power (AKA religion) while being A-THEIST means to NOT believe in a higher power. Being agnostic theist or agnostic atheist is bascically being theist or atheist. Saying you’re agnostic is basically saying “I’m not even sure if there’s a God out there anymore” which is saying that you are an atheist, because if you do not have a full “Yes there is a God out there” then you are definitely not a theist.

    Just felt like I should point that out. Cheers and great article!

  • Michael Asta

    I love all of your articles. I read every single one you post. But I need to point out that “agnosticism” is not actually a belief. Being THEIST means believing in a higher power (AKA religion) while being A-THEIST means to NOT believe in a higher power. Saying you’re agnostic is basically saying “I’m not even sure if there’s a God out there anymore” which is saying that you are an atheist, because if you do not have a full “Yes there is a God out there” then how can you be considered a theist?

    Just felt like I should point that out. Cheers and great article!

    BTW: ignore copy comment under this. It was me but I had to delete it and edit it.

    • Gary Menten

      A couple of quotes from the late Carl Sagan come to mind.

      “Some people think God is an outsized, light-skinned
      male with a long white beard, sitting on a throne somewhere up there in the sky, busily tallying the fall of every sparrow. Others—for example Baruch Spinoza and Albert Einstein—considered God to be essentially the sum total of the physical laws which describe the universe. I do not know of any compelling evidence for anthropomorphic patriarchs controlling human destiny from some hidden celestial vantage point, but it would be madness to deny the existence of physical laws.”

      “My view is that if there is no evidence for it, then
      forget about it . . . An agnostic is somebody who doesn’t believe in something until there is evidence for it, so I’m agnostic.”

      Carl Sagan

  • James

    To whom it may concern. I think you should just sit down and read the Bible… all the way through and ask God to open your understanding then maybe you will see that God is real…. because if you wait till science prove it will never happen and your soul will be lost…. Hell is real too. So my belief is I will not believe that I evolved… when I was beautifully and wonderfully made by God

    • James

      evolved as science “says”

    • Gary Menten

      What makes you think that we haven’t and that we haven’t decided, having carefully compared both scientific evidence and biblical stories that science offers better explanations for our presence in the universe?

    • Lauren Lagergren

      Apparently, in Magic/Mythic consciousness. Evolve means change and it’s apparent you’ve stagnated.

    • Topher

      Hell is a Catholic myth caused by etmyological errors in the Latin Vulgate of the 5th century. The original writings of the Christian bible speak of no such place. I would recommend knowing the history of the Christian bible, rather than assuming a place exists.

  • Jim Bean

    No one on this planet knows with absolute certainty whether god does or does not exist. End of story.

    • Gary Menten

      Nor can anyone prove or disprove that there is a small golden teapot orbiting the sun between Neptune and Uranus, but if I go and propose that there is, I would be expected to show my evidence.

      • Wan Abi Sufi

        LOL coppying and pasting from dawkins?

        Study religious history, and you learn dawkins cherry picks religious history, and conveniently only debunks a very narrow concept of god, that was never cannon for christians, and only american christians really follow that vision.

      • Gary Menten

        Not Dawkins; Bertrand Russel and Carl Sagan. Extraordinary claims require extraordinary evidence. Checkmate.

    • Susan

      I agree with you Jim. But I am also the oddball Christian who believes in God as well as science. If you and I disagree about this, that’s okay. Intelligent folks can coexist. It’s those nutcases who think EVERYONE needs to believe what they believe where the problem is.

      • Jim Bean

        You’re only the oddball when you venture into the liberal compound. I know dozens of Christians (am agnostic myself) and know not one that does not believe in science. And I agree with you about nut cases but what constitutes a ‘nut case’ for me also encompasses those who think there’s something wrong with you if your not keen on abortion and homosexuality.

  • Jersey Blue

    The Bible tells us the astrolegers followed the star to Bethlehem. Those in our past studied the heavens far more than most do and they knew this was a huge event.

    • Gary Menten

      Absurd. They didn’t even know the stars were other suns or that that Earth revolves around the sun and not the other way around.

  • Scott Schaeffer

    You should read my book, “Where the Bible Contradicts Creationists”. It shows how the Bible actually contradicts traditional creationism and better supports an old universe than it does a young one. I know this is a shameless self-promotion, but I only make 2 bucks a copy. It’s more about getting the message out.

    • Susan

      Sounds interesting Scott. Does B&N carry your book? If so you’ll be getting my $2 some time after this afternoon.

  • Wan Abi Sufi

    Good article, but your really only rallying against biblical literalism. To quote Reza Aslan, for both his faults and his strengths, he is right about one thing: Biblical literalism is a pretty new concept, only from the 19 century.