Sunday, March 2, 2008

Unknown Biases

I had an interesting conversation the other day with SIL-1. I've mentioned before that she is a conservative christian, but she's not overly pushy about it. At least she doesn't try to “witness” with me. Also, I try to abide by that old statement that “Politics and religion have no place in polite conversation.”* So, it's understandable that we don't discuss religion (or politics for that matter). Still, it surprised me that, when we were discussing the wedding ceremony, she asked me, “If it would be ok for us to recite the Lord's prayer, since you're an atheist?”
I asked her “Why do you think I'm an atheist?”
(As a side note Dr. Man and I did have a religious ceremony for our wedding, not in the church though. And SIL-1 was there. I have the pictures to prove it.) “Well, you're a scientist,” she replied.

I was surprised. It had never occurred to me that one followed the other. I mean, I know that a lot of scientists are atheists for various reasons. However, I didn't know that when I took my quals I pledged my allegiance to atheism (but if it involved robes and candles and a secret handshake, I'd be all over that). This led to an awkward conversation about how I consider myself christian, but that I have a lot of problems with the organization of it. I have a hard time being associated with a religion that preaches the subservience/inferiority of women, that actively persecutes homosexuals, and that cares more about unborn children than those that are alive and struggling. (I do know that not all christian denominations do such things. And a lot of christians do not agree with everything the church pronounces as the “right way to do things.”)**

I concluded by telling her that I'm doing research on the feminist perspective of religion and the history of the bible/church. That I want to be able to intellectually reason out how I feel, what I believe, and what (if any) church I should (or would like to) attend-- i.e. one that would mostly agree with whatever interpretations, etc. that I come up with.

SIL-1 laughed and said, “See, I told you that you are a scientist!”

* I realize that I'm not really following that adage here. Then, again, I never claimed that my blog was so-called polite conversation.
** I'm really not trying to insult christians that do or do not believe those things I wrote. I'm just stating my feelings on such matters and if it bothers you a whole lot just remember that I can't be that smart, afterall, I'm in grad school.

4 comments:

DancingFish said...

There was an NPR story (http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=19357461) on some recent research about Americans switching religions. If I remember correctly, you have a lot of company- one of the fastest growing groups is people who are relgious but not in an organized religion.
Do you think the 'scientists are atheists' thought is as widespread as the 'ID is science' thought? I have a feeling they are intertwined...

Mad Hatter said...

I know lots of scientists who are religious, including many who are like you--religious but not part of an organized religion. So you're in good company, and I'm sure you'll be able to find a church that shares your views.

TitleTroubles said...

I think, for myself at least, there's a difference between spirituality and religiosity. I was raised conservative christian and, while I still consider myself to be a christian, I'm totally turned off by organized religion. I've been fortunate to have finally found a pastor I like (a female even!). I hope your search goes well.

Amanda said...

Dancing Fish: I just found that story on the NYTimes. I thought it was rather interesting. As far as the "scientists are atheists" thought, that'll probably end up being a post of its own. My comment was getting too long.

Mad Hatter and Title Troubles: I'd like to. It's just taking a long time.