Accepting fact and faith without double standards

Science and religion have always clashed with each other, especially when it came to the origin of the world and life, the idea of a higher being, sexuality and women’s rights. I do admit that when I was a child, due to parental and community pressure, I found myself prioritizing faith over fact, but as I became older, my dedication to religion diminished as I started to question the meaning behind religious values.

In recent years, the two areas of thought have conflicted even more as a result of terror attacks and radical religious groups all across the world. These hateful organizations spread influence and damage that goes against the intrinsic religious idea of spreading good to all people. Some even argue against the existence of a god because an omnipotent and loving being wouldn’t allow diseases, natural disasters or other terrible conditions to ravage homes and take lives.

This battle between religion and science is also prevalent in pop culture. For example, when Neil deGrasse Tyson went on Chelsea Handler’s show on Netflix, he was asked whether he believed a god existed, in a patronizing manner might I add. He gave a thoughtful answer saying that if a god was real, it couldn’t be omnipotent or entirely good if it is allowing innocent people to die of horrible conditions.

Everyone has a right to their own beliefs and I truly respect that. I’m not the type to stand in the middle of a courtyard with a Bible in one hand and a wordy, wooden sign in the other. However, I don’t agree with people who believe it is fair to question the validity of religion or a god while concurrently protesting the importance of religious freedom.

With the new presidency and tensions rising against people of the Islamic faith, it’s important for people to support Muslims and protect them from hate in campuses and cities. They have been misrepresented by the media and unfairly grouped with radical Islamist groups. In addition, some celebrities promote ignorance and spread misinformation, which doesn’t help improve conditions for Muslims. At this time, whether one is religious or not, we need to stand together and protect each other.

Yet, there are those who do state their support but still ridicule other religious beliefs. This is a double standard and it doesn’t show genuine interest in protecting religious freedom. Sure, there are some pious believers who criticize other religions rather than their own, but I’m not talking about them. I’m referring to those who post on social media about promoting a religious sanctuary or joining protests for religious freedom, but still belittle other faiths or interrogate peers on why they attend church. It’s a complete step back from the equality they’re working towards.

Now, I understand that some religious followers don’t necessarily return the same kindness as they should. Christians have notably in the past renounced the LGBTQ community, and many of them have also been considered white supremacists. This is an unfortunate situation and it’s still a confusing issue within my community that I’m not very proud of.

However, by removing the hatred and ignorance that others have mistakenly infused into their religion, the core ideal of faith is to be loving and beneficent, without judgement or an expectation of reciprocation. Even Satanism, a religion that all Christians attribute to evil, teaches their followers to be respectful of others and keep one’s ideologies to oneself.

Finally, there’s some kind of notion that faith and science are polar opposites and one must choose one or the other. This idea proposes that people who believe in a god can’t think empirically or analyze data appropriately. What kind of nonsense is that?

Every day, we see examples of people who defy that ideal. Look at Francis Collins, the director of the National Institutes of Health.

He’s an outspoken Christian who, with his chromosome-jumping technique and help from other researchers, discovered the gene that causes cystic fibrosis. Are his scientific advancements any less noteworthy because he goes to church on Sundays?

People have the ability to separate their ideals from fact. In fact, if there is one thing we can all agree on it’s that every individual is complex with varied interests and beliefs, and it should be everyone’s belief to show respect, kindness and open-mindedness to the diverse cultures, religions and outlooks in life.