When I was young, I paid extra attention when I was taught subjects like the creation of the universe and evolution because of my interest in the natural sciences. However, my lessons on these topics interfered with the ideas that I had about God. One day after watching a documentary about the scientific theory of the beginning of the universe, I asked myself, “I thought God created everything, which truth am I supposed to pick?” Should I believe what the Bible says or what the scientists say about who I am?
I was confused for a long time. I’ve been a Catholic all my life and I’ve done all the things that Catholics do when they are young: Baptism, First Communion, and Confirmation. However, everything was just a history lesson to me, and nothing I did bore any good fruit. Even so, in high school I joined my local youth group. By the time I graduated I knew that God existed, that He had plan, and that He was good, but that was about it.
However, everything changed when I signed up for a pilgrimage that concluded with World Youth Day in Poland in 2016. It was there that God introduced Himself to me and I realized that life no longer needed to be defined by only faith or only science.
Waking up early, walking, singing, praying all day, and going to sleep well past midnight for two weeks isn’t exactly what was on my bucket list, but it was the best choice I ever made. After two weeks we finally arrived in Kraków, and I could tell that there was still something in store for me, but I didn’t know what it was at the time. The first day of WYD went by and I tried listening for something, but the seed just fell on the road.
Later on, Pope Francis spoke, but still I felt nothing. Eventually it was time to go to bed out in the field with the stars gazing down on me when I decided to give prayer a real shot. I had been struggling with a sin that I knew deep in my heart I did not want to deal with any longer, so I figured I would pray for God’s help.
I took a leap of faith and begged God for an answer to my prayer, because if God was ever going to answer me, it might as well be there with the Pope and three million other people halfway across the world. I begged, “God, I came halfway across the world in hopes of meeting you, so I have just one request. Please help me get rid of this sin. I just want to know what it’s like to live free of this slavery!”
When I woke up, I couldn’t help but smile. God had really answered my prayer and I was able to catch a glimpse of what it was like to live without this sin.I became overjoyed at the miracle that had occurred because at that moment I knew that none of my doubts were true. God is real, the Word of God is real, and best of all, God loves me!
Now a college student, I continue to try and grow in faith by asking myself, “what is the cross?” Going by a strict scientific definition, a cross is simply the combination of Carbon, Oxygen, Hydrogen, Nitrogen, and trace elements like Calcium, Potassium, Magnesium, Iron, Manganese, Sulfur, Chlorine, Silicon, and Phosphorous put together to make the three wooden beams of which it is constructed.
Defining a cross by its chemical components is technically correct, but it is not all the meaning that the cross has. Scientific technicality defines the world that we live in, but there exists yet another reality – the reality of suffering. The Church tells us that a cross is a suffering in your life placed unto you by God as a sign of His immense love.
Our cross shows us what we lack and helps us understand that suffering is a blessing. On the other hand, science helps explain everything about the physical world so that we can move forward and improve our daily lives.
The struggle between God and science is one that does not have to take place; they serve different purposes in our lives and thus do not conflict with one another. This has been the case for me ever since I first truly discovered God.
Today, I am a Biochemistry major with a goal of becoming a dentist. I will never forget the experience I had in Poland as I continue to embark on this journey of education defined by science. Even after what I’ve been through, I still find that science does not rule out faith. The classroom lessons and the documentaries that I watched did not, in fact, rule out the existence of God and the good works that He has done in my life.
Day by day, I set apart science and God. In the way I see it, God has given us the opportunity to explore the world in order to make sense of it for our benefit. For example, advancements in medicine, engineering and, psychology have all helped us improve the quality of life with every day that goes by.
Throughout time, there have been many great faithful scientists: Fr. Roger Bacon, the forerunner of the scientific method; Fr. Georges Lemaître, the formulator of the “Big Bang” theory; Sr. Mary Kenneth Keller, a pioneer of computer science, and Fr. Gregor Mendel, the “Father of Genetics”, just to name a few. Isn’t it ironic how some of the discoveries made by these great scientists were the very causes of my confusion earlier in my life? Not even Darwin used his findings to deny the existence of God!
Stephen Hawking once stated, “[…] Traditionally these are questions for philosophy, but philosophy is dead. Philosophy has not kept up with modern developments in science, particularly physics. Scientists have become the bearers of the torch of discovery in our quest for knowledge.”
I propose this question: can human knowledge save us from the internal struggles that we face each day? If human knowledge becomes the shoes with which you use to run away from your cross, then your run will be short lived. Let science uncover the truths of the physical world, and let faith answer the questions that we constantly seek answers to.
Science cannot deny the reality of suffering, nor can it quantify the crosses that each one of us carry. In some cases, the pain caused by suffering is even more real than the objects that we see when we open our eyes and look at the crumbling world around us. The cross is something that is abstract, yet so real that it is undeniable.
Each one of us has sufferings that we live with. Imagine if for every suffering in your life there was an answer formulated by science- that for every time we feel like we are in the depths of darkness and on our knees begging for someone to help us there was an equation in a textbook. That would be great and easy, but we are not the same variables in an equation.
Brothers and sisters, we must look at the reality that we live in and realize that only faith can help us get through suffering. When the suffering becomes greater and the night becomes darker, that is when Jesus Christ makes His light that much more apparent. It is precisely in that moment when God looks at you and tells you, “I love you!”