Monday, September 12, 2011

News Flash: Catholics Learn Science!

Today I have a meeting with a few teachers from the local Catholic school board to chat about doing some workshops with their students on impact cratering. In the past two weeks, when I've told people about this meeting, I've been surprised by some of the responses:

"That should be interesting" with a bit of a scoff.

"What are you even going to teach them?"

"How is that going to work?"

"Oh, good luck with that."

Each time I heard a comment like this, I was taken aback. Really? Is it that weird to think that science is being taught in our Catholic schools? Do people really have such an issue with religion and science being taught in the same building, that someone who believes in one can't learn about the other?

It boggles my mind that many people cannot fathom believing in both religion and science. I, myself, am not particularly religious (though I do believe there is some sort of higher being out there); however, I know many scientists that are very religious. In fact, a good friend of mine (who is Mormon) said she loves to study astronomy because she feels that's where science and religion intersect. I also know many people who attended Catholic school and/or teach in a Catholic school. And guess what? They also - gasp! - learn and teach science.

There is always a lot of complaining in the science world about religious "fanatics" having little to no understanding of the creation and evolution of our universe, or of evolution, or climate change, but the intolerance is a two-way street: The number of times I've heard someone assume that someone who is religious could not be a scientist is too many to count. These belief systems are not mutually exclusive, and there are many people who have the ability to meld the two.

I'm very excited to work with the Catholic school board, and I know they're excited about our programs. If we can help break this stereotype along the way, it's another bonus of the work I get to do.