Ermin Tale: Science or Religion? It’s Not One or the Other

These days, young Americans often believe they have a choice to make. They can choose faith, or they can choose science, but they can’t choose both. Ermin Tale disagrees. While he continues to study science, something he has been passionate about for years, religion is still a large part of his personal enrichment. In his story he shares why he is confident combination exists.

Isaac Newton said: “Gravity explains the motions of the planets, but it cannot explain who sets the planets in motion.”

As a man who believes in science and religion, I have come to understand, like Newton, that they are not two conflicting theories, but rather two different approaches to understanding a singular complex question: How did mankind come to be, and what is to become of us?

Growing up as the son of Albanian immigrants, I was taught the traditions of the Old World. According to my parents, from the start of my childhood, I was expected to obtain good grades and eventually start a family that would mirror the values of the family I grew up in. An extremely stressed belief in my home was the notion that my siblings and I must marry a Muslim, who explicitly needed to be Albanian as well — “To preserve the culture” my mom always said. Although this belief may seem harsh, I knew and know now that my parents meant it in a sincere way.

Faith is something that has always been valued deeply in my household. Although we may not be considered the “best” Muslims, we do what we can, from fasting during Ramadan to attending mosque during holidays such as Eid. Growing up, people were always shocked when I told them I am Muslim. Their eyes would widen and I would get remarks such as, “But you’re white?” Comments like these seldom bothered me, I would explain to people that religion is colorblind. It is not limited to one ethnicity or group of people, but welcomes all, as it should.

In school I was always fascinated by the sciences and mathematics. I particularly loved math. My dad really loved it as well, and he was a source of knowledge and insight for me. It wasn’t long before I was exposed to the beauty that is science, which first caught my interest in 6th grade. I remember learning about the water cycle and being so excited about it, I would study it on my own before class. The whole process fascinated me. It was a simple cycle, but so perfect and well thought out that I couldn’t help but sit on the cold, tile floor drawing it in awe. It’s an admiration that lives on even as I sit, present day, writing in my research lab.

I’ve come a long way since the 6th grade, but at 18 years old, I realize how far I’ve come and how my beliefs have not changed since then. I still value my faith and believe in science, although, I’ve grown a bit irritated by ignorant comments such as “How can you be a man of science yet still believe in religion?” I personally believe that one can coexist believing in both.

I am reminded of a conversation I had with a close friend of mine recently. We had a break between classes and began conversing about science and religion and how they have differing opinions of how the universe originated and what is to become of us. After a long while of spewing differing opinions, we came to a sort of agreement: science and religion are one in the same. What religion does not have answers to, science strives to explain, and what science does not know is expressed by religion.

As a society we should not belittle one in support of the other, but instead think about how they both influence and promote our desire to understand who we are, what we are and how we came to be. Science has made tremendous discoveries about the universe, but who put these things forth? Science has no answer to this, but religion presents us with the possibility of someone who did. As in everything in life, nothing is definite, but we must have faith and keep the faith in both science and religion.

So I ask myself: science or religion? I choose both. They have both taught me so much and have molded me into the person I am today. I am an Albanian Muslim born in the United States of America. I am currently a college freshman majoring in chemistry with the firm hope of practicing medicine and receiving a doctoral degree in chemistry, and I am a firm believer in God.

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