Christianity and Science – The Perennial Paradox

Pope Francis

We live in the world where science is strongly incompatible with Christianity, where eminent biology scholars ride on biological phenomena such as evolution to bulldoze the cathedral of Christianity. Christianity, the kind that believes in the impossible and forgives the possible, is now, just like Mary Magdalene, facing a barrage of stones at the hands of God-haters. In particular, the Christian scientists face an avalanche of rhetoric from Darwin’s canines who accuse any scientist believing in Christianity as an infidel to a scientist’s trade and a traitor to empiricism. I am trying to counter that argument not by throwing stones at the critics of Christianity but having an open discussion on why Christianity and Science should co-exist even symbiose together.

Adultery is an unpardonable crime in science and so infidelity of scientists who chase prostitutes that come in the form of religious icons, for an intercourse of faith, is deemed a paramount sin against the juggernaut of science. Science and Christanity are far from compatible and these are some of the founding reasons that science venomously attacks the cornerstone of Christianity.

Christianity is founded on the birth, death and resurrection of Jesus where Christmas and Easter, the two yearly dates that Christians all over the world celebrate the foundation of Christianity, are plagued by the relics of myth, where the birth of Christ is termed to be an event of immaculate conception (with no contribution from mortal semen) and his death was glorified by the resurrection or the reincarnation of this holy man. Therefore, two phenomena, immaculate conception and rising from the dead, pollute Christianity by the absence of a scientific base to support these mystical and esoteric events. Therefore it would be interesting to see if either or both these phenomena exist in extant biology.

The first, immaculate conception is a notorious truth in botany and can also be found abundantly in zoology. In botany, there is a biological phenomenon called ‘apomixis’ which engenders the growth of an embryo, without the participatory donation of the pollen nucleus. In simple terms, apomixes can create a new plant from asexual reproduction in the absence of fertilization and this biological trick involves the development of a new life form from an unfertilized egg or even a cell from the surrounding tissue. Simply, botany doesn’t require Joseph’s pollen just Mary’s egg would do.

In zoology too, in some species of fish, amphibians and reptiles in particular, there are events where a new life form develops from an unfertilized egg in a phenomenon called parthenogenesis. However, parthenogenesis has not been demonstrated in human this far although myths have existed that have fueled speculation and mystery. In the small screen, even Dr Gregory House, the notorious venom spitting, drug-injecting, motor-bike riding and opinionated doctor delivers the first child of an immaculately conceived virgin mother. So who says far-fetched stories only exist in Christianity? It too exists in contemporary dramas unfolding in the television screen.

Now to rising from the dead, a hackneyed phenomenon that is the center of many religions, as whether its reincarnation, samsara or avatars, there is that sense of passage from one life form to another. The questions are posed here; can humans rise from the Dead? is Larzarus a fact and not a myth?…. Well, to this date, there are no factual cases to demonstrate that rising from the dead exists in botany, zoology and human biology but it should be remembered that animals live for long periods in hibernation, bacterial spores live for decades only to come back to life and flourish in the broader scheme of biology and even human who have lived in a vegetative state for years in a coma, have come back to thrive in hospitable environments of life.

There are even questions in Jesus’s life that can be explained by biology. Just like Jesus walked on water, there is a lizard in South America that can glide on water named deservedly as the Jesus Christ lizard. Therefore it appears that religion is not so far-fetched after all, it is merely a soft exaggeration of biology.

It should be remembered here that no pope can even change the evolution of science and equivalently no gods of science can change the bastion of faith. They may be up at arms with each other, but it is time to cultivate a deep sense of respect for the other. For at the end, a moderate scientist and a moderate Christian can coexist easily. It is only the polarized fanatics that bring forth stinging rhetoric for personal limelight. Science and religion at the end are colonies of the human temple. The difference is that one questions and the other believes.

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Author: meandererworld (Dilantha Gunawardana)

Dr Dilantha Gunawardana is a molecular biologist who graduated from the University of Melbourne. He moonlights as a poet. His poems have been accepted/published in Forage, American Journal of Poetry, Kitaab, Eastlit and Ravens Perch. He mixes science with poetry for a living, when what matters is the expression of both DNA and words into something serendipitous. Although an Australian citizen, Dilantha is domiciled in Sri Lanka, his country of birth.

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