This weekend I got into a very minor debate with my father that shook me big time.
I found out that my father has become a creationist.
As in dinosaurs and humans existed together. As in Noah’s ark is real (they’ve done studies, don’t you know). As in the earth is only 6,000 years old. Yep. He’s a big time creationist.
Part of me finds it slightly amusing. I was sent to a Catholic school by my parents. And in that Catholic school the history of the earth that I learned about didn’t have a drop of creationist belief in it. But yet, this past Sunday, for a few minutes (until I was able to change the subject at least), I ended up arguing with a man who was trying to debunk the very stuff that I had learned from that religious school he had sent me to.
The rest of me that isn’t amused is just in shock. Growing up I looked to my father as being an intelligent person. I thought that he shared the same beliefs as I did when it came to the origins of the universe and the creation of Earth. I thought we at least had one thing in common. I found out I was wrong.
I firmly believe that science and faith go hand in hand and enhance the other. Sciences tells us the ‘how’ about the origins of the universe, and religion (or faith in a religion) tells us the ‘why’. They were never supposed to be exact duplicates of each other. This wonderful universe has been set before us to explore. We are to continue to learn how it works and how it evolved from the very beginning of time. But no matter what science puts together to say how it happened, it is only part of the picture of its evolution. The other half is the faith that evolution was done by whatever God you believe in. Or, from a humanist / atheist perspective, the other half is the faith that the universe evolved on its own without divine interference. Either of these still completes the full picture.
Furthermore, you absolutely cannot try to utilize one side to explain the other. Science will never fully explain why we are so enamored with religion or have faith in things that are scientifically unexplained. Religion will never explain why we choose to pursue scientific concepts. It will never explain those scientific concepts or how things were created. And most importantly, religion will never quash the desire to understand how we ended up here in the first place or how the world works.
Of course, my father nor my mother wanted to hear my belief. Instead my father ranted about how science cannot duplicate the human eyeball and that we have never found a half ape/half human. My poor husband, dealing with a migraine from the on-and-off thunderstorms that had blown through the area that day just sat there listening to the rant while holding his head in his hands. I could tell he was forcefully holding himself back from ripping holes in everything my father said for the sake of keeping the peace, and it wasn’t doing much to help his migraine.
I honestly don’t know what is going on with my parents. I live in a different state from them, and am not in frequent touch because of things exactly like this. This discussion just tells me that I may be forced to make visits even less frequent than I have been doing, as I suspect that their beliefs are only going to become more strict and conservative as time goes on. I hate to say it, but that scares me. I don’t want to be fully cut off from them, but if it is going to come down to the only relationship that I have becoming a very unhealthy one, I’m going to have to do just that.
The fact that I believe that religion nor science has the whole story is also something that I’m not about to push on my parents, nor anyone else. That is my belief. It makes sense to me. If it makes sense to someone else, they are more than welcome to use the information to expand their own knowledge and make it fit for themselves. If someone wants to discuss something different and share their own belief with me, that is perfectly acceptable, but I have the right to say that I disagree, and I have a right to my opinion. And that is the crux of the issue here.
And for the record, I don’t care if you build an Ark. Just don’t use tax money to do it. There is a reason separation of church and state exists. And don’t expect building it will recruit people to your own religion either. Everyone is allowed to make up their own mind about religion and science, just like I did.
So yes Dad, I will accept your beliefs. But even though I will respect your belief about religion, don’t think I’m going to allow you to rant and rave to try and ‘ force-recruit’ me to your way of thinking, even though you are my father. And if you share your opinion, you better be ready to listen to mine and not just ignore it.
Photo from Deviant Art