Hello, I’m Anastasia, author of Genetic Maize. I suppose I’ll dive right into these questions.
1. What does science mean to you? Science is everything, everything is science. It is how we investigate, understand, and manipulate the world around us. Without scientific thinking, we’d still be scrounging on the savannah.
2. How do you interact with science? I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t a scientist. My mom still pokes fun at me for my kindergarten days of enthusiastically bringing home “fossils” that were actually chicken bones and rocks.
3. Are you atheist, agnostic, Christian or something else? When we can measure the supernatural, I’ll believe in it.
4. Have you ever been anything else? I was raised Catholic. As a child, I didn’t really think about it. God was there in the sky and we didn’t interact. I was a lot more interested in things I could touch, like my chemistry set. Religion was and is more of a family tradition than a personal experience with a supernatural being.
5. How do you see faith and science interacting? To be honest, I don’t. If anything, religion hampers science.
My answers above sound a lot more harsh than I feel, so I hope I can give you a better idea of who I am…
I appreciate the peace that religion can bring to people, especially when times are hard. Perhaps if I had experienced some trauma or disaster during my formative years I would feel differently about a personal religion. Now that I’m older, though, I wonder how helpful religion actually is. So many people depend on god when something bad happens, and I wonder if they would be better off depending on themselves and the people around them.
I think religion was very helpful in explaining the world around us when we as a species didn’t have the tools or skills to do so. Now, however, I feel that religion has outlived its usefulness. People who have strong faith but can also use logic to look around are just as well adapted as those with no faith. It’s the people who can’t or won’t use logic that are slowing us down and causing problems. Religion can be a crutch that allows people to avoid thinking for themselves – leading to personal views and national policies that are less than favorable from various ethical standpoints (including when it comes to science). Because of this, it’s sometimes hard for me to look at religion in a positive light.
I have to admit that I spent a lot of time wondering what why I couldn’t just accept things on faith. As a young Catholic, I received all of the sacraments, including Confirmation. I chose St. Boniface to guide me, as I identified with his story of cutting down a great oak tree as evidence to the pagans that their god had no power to prevent him from doing so. I worked diligently to understand, always staying late to ask questions about the bible, ethics, saints, miracles… Strangely, no one had answers, or even thoughts on the subjects. They had taken everything on faith. St. Boniface proved that the pagan god didn’t exist, but he didn’t prove that his god exists.
From that point on, I decided to live my life by another code. Instead of following rules laid down by people in a civilization I barely understand, I choose to form my own rules. These rules are based on ethics, which are in turn based reason and on my own understanding of the world around me. Most of the time, these ethics coincide with those morals laid down by society, but sometimes, they do not. These areas are often where science and religion clash.
I am especially frustrated by the science of genetic engineering being met with such opposing force by those who beleive in some abstract concept of not tampering with god’s creation or not tampering with nature. Their oppositions are not based on science and ethics, but on morals and faith. Most of my posts will likely be on this topic.