Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

The Quest for Truth: Science & Religion

vlopez's picture

0 false 18 pt 18 pt 0 0 false false false

Victoria López

Anne Dalke & Paul Grobstein

Story of Evolution & Evolution of Stories

February 6, 2011

The Quest for Truth:Science & Religion


            I was raised by a Catholic family and went to a Catholic school.  You could say I was raised to be a perfect Catholic girl, but due to personal experience I just cannot bring myself to continue along the lines the Catholic Church has set up for us.  So, I turned to science in search for an explanation of the world and why things happen the way they do.  Then, in this class at Bryn Mawr College, The Story of Evolution and the Evolution of Stories, I became even more confused as to what to believe.  You could say this is my own personal search for an answer as to whether or not science has lead me to believe more ardently in God or not to.


            “What is Truth in science?”  This was our opening to a class discussion for the past few weeks.  The truth is that I do not know what Truth is; I can only say I believe it to be arbitrary depending on who believes it.  We were then introduced to three theories of which many believe one to be true.  There is the theory that everything happens due to chance, there is the theory in which there is an architect that makes everything happen, and there is the theory that not everything is due to chance but a set of casual relations that have nothing to do with the individual.  I happen to be one of the ones that believe that there is an architect, or God if you will. 


            As I evolved into a better scientist, I began to realize that there are things science just cannot explain.  Science has evolved, the world has evolved, animals and people have evolved, and we do not know why.  Darwin, as seen in the Origin of Species, attributes these forms of evolution to chance.  “Several cases also, could be given, of occasional and strange habits in certain species, which might, if advantageous to the species, give rise, through natural selection, to quite new instincts.” [1]  It is seen that Darwin attributes the evolution of a species to something that is occasional and strange, which one might call chance.  But as science evolves, the more scientists discover, and it evolves once again… it is a never-ending cycle of learning and evolution.  But even though we, scientists, continue to evolve and learn, we do not know how to answer the question ‘How did we come to be?’.  This is an essential question that I have been asking myself as a scientist, but also as a human being. 


            Since we, to the present moment, have not been able to aptly determine how we came to be; we must deduce that there was some greater force, a higher being, that created us all.  “Now, everything that is moved is moved by something; nothing, indeed, is changed, except it is changed to something which it is in potentiality. Moreover, anything moves in accordance with something actually existing; change itself, is nothing else than to bring forth something from potentiality into actuality.” [2]  This illustrates proof of a higher being’s existence, in this case God, through a scientific approach, which was done by one of the Church’s greatest patrons, Saint Thomas Aquinas. 


            Through time I have come to believe a certain number of things, but there are others that are simply a mystery to me.  At the moment, because science is lacking answers, I feel there is no other choice to believe there is a higher being, whom I prefer to call God.  But not just simply because science is lacking, but because science has been able to prove a higher being’s existence, at least to me.  As I explored Darwin and this class, I have come to believe that we are all scientists, that we all believe there is something or someone else out there that directs the order of the universe because human beings are just not capable of doing it on their own.  Therefore, I, as a scientist and a person looking for answers – in every sense of the word – believe that science and religion complement each other.  One gives the answers the other lacks; they are twin experiences that are told in a very different manner. 



Science & Religion





1.     Darwin, Charles.  (2003).  On the Origin of Species (Rev.ed.).  Canada: National Library of Canada Cataloguing in Publication. 

2.     Thatcher, O. J. (n.d.). Thomas Aquinas: Reasons in Proof of the Existence of God, 1270. In Internet Medieval Source Book. Retrieved February 10, 2011, from




Anne Dalke's picture

"From potentiality into actuality"

Two of your classmates have also written about the complementary spheres of science and religion; be sure to read both Juxtaposing Religion & Science and The How and Why of our World --as well as my comments on both essays, On Being Bilingual  and "The Lame and the Blind"  --which hereby become, by extension and linking, comments on yours as well!

Your essay differs from those written by Ashley and Organized Khaos, however, in the emphasis you place on being a scientist, so that's the particular angle I'd like to pursue w/ you here. Can you back up a few steps and tell me what science is, and what being a scientist means to you? How capacious is the subject and its object, how accurate in truth-telling is the process? Do you practice it hoping to get @ the full Truth of things? And how do you understand the gathering of data and information, in relation to the construction of proof?

I'm asking these questions because I'm puzzled by how you constructed the argument you offer here. For example, you offer an observation, made by the medieval philosopher and theologian Thomas Aquinas, about  bringing forth "something from potentiality into actuality," as illustration of "proof of a higher being's existence." How is his description constitute proof? What exactly is the proof? How is it constructed?

You say, too, that science lacks an answer to the question of how we came to be. Might it be more accurate to say that science offers an answer, but that it's one doesn't satisfy you? You go on to claim that, lacking such an answer, "we must deduce that there was some greater force, a higher being, that created us all";  "there is no other choice." Could you explain the causality of your reasoning here? Why, lacking one answer, is another one inevitable? And how does that inevitability jive w/ your initial belief that Truth is "arbitrary depending on who believes it"?

As I told Ashley and Organized Khaos, my own work on Science and the Spirit presumes a process of "continuing revelation," or constantly "testing," that can be practiced in both the religious and the intellectual realms. So I'm not @ all questioning your claim that they are compatible. I am questioning how you construct the relationship, and am eager to talk with you more about that construction.