Since the onset of COVID-19, I have witnessed the distress caused by the religious/scientific divide as it pertains to prevention (including vaccines) and treatment created to combat the virus. Creating a healthy intersection between science and faith is a process laden with variables. Whereas science is based upon reason and observation, religion is the belief in and worship of a superhuman controlling power, especially a personal God or gods. Contradictions between the two significantly stress efforts designed to bridge gaps that could improve the living conditions of all individuals. Understandably, persons of faith rely on their connection to and relationship with God to guide them through various phases of life. Regardless of what may be the best practical or scientific action, if it does not align with someone’s belief practice, many will bypass rational thought and hold fast to supernatural hopes of healing and restoration. This can be problematic when the avoidance of proven scientific strategies can affect the health and well-being of an entire populace.
Despite the obvious differences in approach, both have a common goal: to provide best practices for survival. However, when it comes to issues about health and wellness, those on the cusp vacillate between scientific findings sustained by facts and spiritual teachings about the will of God. The latter can be risky if time is of the essence. If we recall, in the early years of AIDS, gay men were publicly demonized by religious communities and told that their sickness was God’s will. Despite scientific research disputing all myths and misconceptions, 40 years later we are still chopping down the trees that sprouted from those negative seeds. Hence, we are still discussing the importance of developing strategies that will establish camaraderie and mutual respect between faith and scientific communities.
The process of synergizing these efforts can be furthered by those with a balanced appreciation of scientific and religious attitudes toward wellness. As one who both serves in ministry and trusts scientific research, I understand that educational approaches must be respectful and careful not to devalue either view. It is important that faith communities be made aware of scientific advances, and that researchers recognize the role faith plays in the lives of many people. Neither should be abased. I believe we are in the perfect season to create spaces that will leverage conversations, and introduce a method of engagement, that respectfully shows how God can be in all things.