Being Catholic is something I take pride in and will always love. But after taking time to think about faith and science, I’ve come to realize some concepts in my religion clash with reality.
Around MSU’s campus, I have seen several different religions including Muslim, Lutheran, Presbyterian, Episcopalian, Catholic, Christian and others. Some religions have similar beliefs and some have totally different ones. How is a person to know which religion to believe in, or if religious beliefs are even real? As I’ve learned more about science and history, many of the ideals don’t seem possible. But does that diminish the value of religion?
Ever since I was young, I was trained to believe in one God who created Heaven and Earth, and we are supposed to devote our lives to Him. I was trained to believe God has a vocation for us. I was trained to believe there is life after death and that we will come again into God’s presence in Heaven, unless our sins send us to Hell.
I was baptized as a Catholic when I was a toddler and I have been attending church ever since. I attended Catholic school from kindergarten through 12th grade and was learning about the Bible the same time I was learning how to write my name. When I began at St. Lawrence Catholic School and Parish, one religion class was required every year. On Fridays, everyone at school attended mass together. Religion was considered just as important as our core classes.
When I was in my 10th grade Bible scripture class, the teacher told us the Bible was not meant to be taken literally. When we’re kids, we’ll believe anything that’s told to us, so finding out that everything I was told wasn’t necessarily true blew my mind. I recognize that moment as one where I lost a part of my childhood.
The following year, I took a course on world religions and it got me thinking about my faith. I learned Catholics aren’t the only ones who believe in a higher being and afterlife, and some religions have different beliefs on an afterlife. Catholicism and Christianity, for example, believe in Heaven and Hell, whereas Hinduism and Buddhism both believe in reincarnation.
There are thousands of religions in this world that each believe in different things. If Heaven is truly real, then what happens to the religion that believes in reincarnation instead? It doesn’t seem scientifically possible for concepts like Heaven and reincarnation to be real if they aren’t physical places.
Since the Bible was completed, there have been countless scientific advances that disprove many of the biblical stories. For example, Mary became pregnant with Jesus, even though she was a virgin. Scientifically, it’s not possible for a woman to become pregnant without sexual intercourse. Also, the Bible speaks of visions of God, Jesus, The Holy Spirit and angels. With today’s knowledge and technology, if someone came out and said they had a vision of a biblical character, doctors would have some logical and medical explanation, such as hallucinations as an effect of a drug or schizophrenia.
We do not know what happens to us after death. Some people who have been on the verge of death have been brought back to life by defibrillators or CPR, and doctors have reported patients saying they have seen a white light or other out-of-body experiences when nearing death. This can very well mean that it’s possible that there is something after death, but science hasn’t found any proof for it, and how can we believe in something when there’s no proof it exists?
I personally think the Earth is just the Earth. We do not know and probably will never know how it was created. It could have been started by a mixture of gases and chemicals, or it could be true that it was started by a God or figure of higher being. Earth is Earth, and science tells us we are just beings chemically made up of atoms and molecules. We might have a purpose for being here, and we might not. We might have created the concept of religion just to give us a motivation to live and to do our best as human beings.
I love Catholicism and the idea of a higher being — God. I love having faith to rely on when I need it during difficult times, but I think that religious beliefs conflict with developments in scientific logic.
Erin Gray is a State News reporter. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.