Unlike philosophy, science is based upon facts that are backed up by an overwhelming amount of evidence. This means that just about everything in our world can be traced back to its origin using the scientific knowledge that we now have. However, it’s interesting to see how science and its relationship with other aspects of our lives has changed over time. Even in today’s world, it’s evident that in certain places, science and religious beliefs are intertwined. One example of this can be seen in the many ongoing discussions in our own country with regards to a multitude of controversial ethical scenarios. In their pieces, Dr. Chanda Prescod-Weinstein and David Kirby talk about the impact science had in their own lives.
Prescod-Weinstein writes about her experiences growing up with a tough upbringing. Ever since she was young, she dreamt of using science as a tool to get out of the socioeconomically disadvantaged environment that she grew up in. As a child, she was often bullied in school, and one time, her white classmates told her that “they would always be better” than her regardless of where she went to college (Prescod-Weinstein). Prescod-Weinstein showed her resilience as she fought through these difficulties when she was finally accepted to Harvard to study physics and earn a doctorate. She was later named the first African-American woman to be involved in a faculty position for the field of theretical cosmology. Even after all of her success, Prescod-Weinstein considered herself to be a “token” (Prescod-Weinstein). What she meant by this is that she was one of the few people who was able to overcome the many obstacles of a difficult childhood to ultimately lead a successful life as compared to the many other socioeconomically disadvantaged people.
As an immigrant, I can somewhat relate to this. Back in high school, I traveled to India to volunteer at a juvenile center with children battling the side effects of a low socioeconomic status. I quickly recognized that my service could transcend providing vocational training and that these children desperately needed a sense of community. Simply asking them about their upbringing helped them to eventually open up about how they landed at a juvenile center. I distinctly remember one boy who had the same name as me. Sai. Sai told me about how he had escaped from his family by jumping onto a train without knowing the destination because of how much his older sister had physically abused him growing up. This story stirred up a sense of gratitude for my own family, and I couldn’t help but wonder how I could have just as easily been in his shoes. I can relate to Prescod-Weinstein when she feels a certain disconnect going back to where she’s from, and I feel grateful for my own opportunities. I hope to use my platform to ultimately incorporate these lessons and become a physician who strives for medical equity for the underserved and impacts the lives of both individuals and entire communities.
Kirby focuses on the idea that science is looked at with a sense of “wonder” and how this same ideology can ultimately holds the field from moving forward. One example is seen in the show, Cosmos, where science is often misunderstood because of the prevalence of religious explanations and Christian language that helps to explain the idea of “wonder” in science. For example, the laws of physics that govern the universe are called “commandments,” and this shows how connections between science are religion are emphasized (Kirby). I personally believe that science and religion should be separate. This is because, over time, science is progressive in that new evidence can lead to advancements and new facts. This shows that science changes over time with more research; however, religion is constant and does not involve the concept of “trial and error.”
Bucchi, M. (2008). Of deficits, deviations and dialogues: Theories of public communication of science. In M. Bucchi & B. Trench (Eds.), Handbook of Public Communication of Science and Technology (1 edition, pp. 57–76). Routledge. (PDF in D2L)
Kirby, D. (2015, January 25). Evangelizing the Cosmos: Science Documentaries and the Dangers of Wonder Overload. http://thescienceandentertainmentlab.com/evangelizing-the-cosmos/
Prescod-Weinstein, C. (2019, March 23). The right to know and understand the night sky. Medium. https://medium.com/@chanda/the-right-to-know-and-understand-the-night-sky-3a9fb4e04d92