Diary of … a future religious scientist

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Ezana Assefa is a junior behavioral neuroscience major and a member of the Neuroscience Club and Ablaze. Ezana plans to attend medical school and become a neurosurgeon. He enjoys reading, writing, playing basketball and spending time with his family.

Religion and science. Creation and evolution. Jesus and Darwin. The list continues as the dichotomy between the realms of religion and science expands. The more educated I become, the more I am left in the middle, a young man residing in two worlds who is advocating for their complementary natures.

I’ve always loved mathematics and the sciences like chemistry and neuroscience in particular. These have always been my highest scoring areas on any standardized test, which led to my desire to learn all I can about them.

Many say that while advancing in the scientific arena, there is no room for bigoted, illogical thoughts from a biblical paradigm such as the concept of God creating the universe and everything in it or a global flood. But I say that without these “bigoted, illogical” thoughts, scientific progress would probably have been hindered by many decades, if not centuries. Many past and present pioneering scientists either shared or share, if not in full, many aspects of this paradigm.

I can’t remember the first time I heard of evolution; it just seemed to always be there. I took more notice of it when I saw how combative people became while discussing differing views on the topic, even though you usually do not speak about religion or politics in casual conversation. I also noticed it a lot more when I began taking my Christianity more seriously. In my own desire to learn more about these so-called conflicting ideals, I began researching and learning more about both creation and evolution dogmas. My personal explorations have shown me that religion and science aren’t in a juxtaposed position, but rather that science actually validates religion.

Throughout my college experience, I’ve had the opportunity to talk with students and professors about these topics, and I always find them to be some of my favorite conversations. These conversations not only shed light on what others believe but also show me how differently people can think. I’ve walked away from these conversations reaffirmed in my beliefs but also with a new perspective or vantage point on a topic.

I’ve surprised professors because I have some “irrational” beliefs, such as the concept of creation, yet I can still do well on a genetics quiz or maintain a long conversation about anything from Neanderthals to the Miller-Urey experiment.

One of the hardest challenges for me is not defending my faith and beliefs but tolerating people who automatically discredit me before I can even say anything. It’s challenging because I know I can show the same poor attitude toward their argument, but I do my best not to, for the sake of respect and intellectual development.

Ignorance, no matter which direction it is coming from, ultimately does more harm than good. I always try to listen to the theories taught in my different classes or read articles and works from prominent evolutionists to strengthen my beliefs while also familiarizing myself with other paradigms. Even though I may not receive the same treatment from those with opposing standpoints, I still carry myself with honor. Not for a reciprocated respect, but because, as a Christian, I was taught to do unto others as you want them to do unto you.

Photo Credit: Courtesy of E. Assefa

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