I have a confession to make.
I believe in God.
There, now you know. If you started reading this blog unaware of this fact, you can now leave if it bothers you.
Growing up as a Catholic in a small town in Iowa, I was a minority (there were no Muslims and the only Jewish person I knew of was the mother of the only other Italian family in town and the father and all of the kids were Catholic). I experienced a minor amount of religious persecution (I had a baby-sitter tell me she didn’t like my church because we worship idols), but apparently things used to be a lot worse for Catholics long ago (cross burnings in their yards) so really, it wasn’t too bad. Still, I grew up knowing that there were a lot of people who thought my church was “bad” (evil, even) and that there were some people who liked me “in spite of” my religious affiliation.
Then I went to college in Boston and I swear, everyone there was Jewish, Catholic, or atheist. Seriously, I met very few Protestants. The ones I did meet, however, had even stronger opinions about the Catholic church (apparently, there are secret warehouses full of gold and jewels in the Vatican, also, the Pope is the Whore of Babylon–who knew?). As you might imagine, this did not endear them to me. However, for the first time, it seemed that I was in a place where Catholicism was mainstream. Lots of people were Catholic! They talked about the Cardinal on the news! For the most part people were not telling me that the church I belonged to was a cult just like Satanism (this was way before all of the priest pedophile scandals came to light; I imagine the atmosphere was quite different after that).
Now, I live in another large city with lots of Catholics, so it’s been awhile since I’ve had to justify being Catholic to anyone. However, it seems I am a glutton for religious persecution because of all of the careers I could have chosen, I decided to be a scientist. However, instead of being looked down upon because I am Catholic, I have run into a more fundamental problem. Now, it’s my faith in God that is considered questionable.
I gotta admit, I never thought this would be a problem. And, really, it’s not so much. That is to say, most people don’t care or if they do they don’t say anything. And I would say that half of my labmates also believe in God, so it’s not like I’m being persecuted at work. But, recently, I have started reading a lot of science blogs and it’s pretty clear that many of the blog authors think that anyone who believes in God is, well, stupid. I mean, they use a lot of much fancier words (even made up words, like “faithtardation”), but it really all boils down to the fact that if you believe in God, you are an idiot.
See, it never actually occured to me that there could be a conflict between being a scientist and believing in God. Science and religion are two very different things, after all. Now, I know that many people perceive science and religion to be in conflict. The fact that many people can’t keep them separate is what is causing the controversy over teaching evolution in schools. However. I always thought that it was the religious side that couldn’t quite grasp that science has nothing to do with religion and vice versa. But, it seems like there are scientists out there who really don’t get that concept at all, either.
People on both sides of the fence seem to think that you can’t be a scientist and believe in God. And it’s true, there is no scientific proof that there is a God.
But, there’s no scientific proof there is not a God, either.
At best, it seems like science can only really make a case for agnosticism. I mean, until someone comes up with an experiment that tests for the existence of God that has an interpretable null result.