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Science, religion, and college: A tough balance
While intensely submersed in our chosen scientific fields, we are constantly surrounded by Koch’s postulates, the scientific method and scientific theories. Our academic studies are rigorous and demanding, especially within the veterinary technology and pre-veterinary/medical majors. Our focus is on the many tests, papers and presentations that are expected of us. Science, in the academic realm, forces us to separate our religious faith from our health profession. There is an overwhelming assumption that individuals in a science-related profession are agnostic, or non-religious. While this may be true for more than a few students, it does not imply that all science-orientated individuals do not practice a religion. Until recently, it seemed that incorporating my faith into my future profession would be nearly impossible. Many students may share similar feelings, however, are unable to intertwine their religious faith (whatever it may be) with their academic and scientific professions.
Quinnipiac, being a private university, seems to have a more liberal approach to tackling controversial issues. Starting with the very first biology course that I took, all the way to a world religions course and ethics, the professors share the freedom to bring up controversial issues, especially about Creation and God. With a majority of the students being science-orientated, they tended to challenged God’s work and accept the scientific theories as truth.
When time was spent pondering over the ideas, I found that scientists have no more “proof” than religious leaders. As a Christian, I do not need proof; however, as a pre-vet I always find myself looking for facts (highly accepted theories). These are two very conflicting behaviors that force many students to rely solely on science.
Many college students find themselves pushing aside their religion, or becoming non-religious, simply to avoid conflicts. However, combining your beliefs, whatever they may be, with your professional life can actually be beneficial for your well-being and the community. Internal conflict generally results in a negative outcome and can have a negative impact on your academic career. Therefore, by incorporating your faith into your daily life, the conflict between science and religion would be resolved. But I have found that one must make a conscious effort to not allow science to take precedence. For example, in many research-related labs we are expected to perform certain tasks that may conflict with our religious beliefs. However, professors have not been sensitive to the religious diversity of the university students and do not take that into consideration.
On the contrary, I have found the work of one Quinnipiac professor particularly inspiring. Dr. Kimberly McClure DVM, professor of the large animal science course for senior veterinary technology students, recently went on a trip to help out in Brazil through the Christian Veterinary Mission (CVM). This organization’s mission is “to challenge, empower, and facilitate veterinarians to serve others through their profession, living out their Christian faith” (www.cvmusa.org). There are various organizations similar to CVM. For example, the Christian Medical and Dental Associations helps doctors and dentists incorporate their beliefs into their practice through programs focusing on global outreach.
Although it does not yet seem to be widely accepted, and it is not one of the topics that commonly arises, I hope that other students and professors are able to find a balance between their scientific field and their religion.