Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention – High school essay contest: Carlin Padgett

Vol. 38 No. 07 September 2021
Carlin Padgett                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                       

Have faith in the facts

By Carlin Padgett 

Science and religion, major influences in today’s society, both have their place in creating a diverse and flourishing social environment, but science must hold more sway than faith. Why? Science is falsifiable, meaning that evidence supports a decision, and can also help disprove a theory. When faith and religion hold the trust of society, we see the misuse of power, and harm to humanity.

The HIV/AIDS epidemic within the United States is a fascinating example of scientific theory versus religion belief. The sexually transmitted disease-causing immune issues in humans was most common within homosexual men at the beginning of the epidemic. This was before the extensive study throughout the scientific community of transmittable disease, and blood-borne pathogens. Before science could develop any inkling of an understanding for this disease, religion swooped in. Religious believers claimed that God brought down this disease to smite out homosexuality. A 2009 study done in Tanzania, stated, “About half of the respondents (53.2 percent) believed that HIV is a punishment from God.” These beliefs often filled the media, obstructing scientific attempts that say otherwise.

Of course, because faith is not falsifiable, we can never disprove that God sent down this disease to smite out homosexuality. However, HIV and AIDS can actually infect anyone, regardless of gender and sexuality. During a time where homophobia ran rampant, these religious beliefs further pushed discrimination against the LGBTQ+ community.

Epidemiologists, those who study disease, have their own hypothesis regarding HIV/AIDS. There is a large amount of evidence that this disease was actually spread from other animals, making it a zoonosis, similar to how Covid-19 may have spread from bats into the human population. Only participating in safe sex, and understanding the science behind the spread of pathogens, not faith, will help keep you safe. If faith had not interrupted, scientific evidence could have intervened quicker, saving more lives.

When society puts its faith into religion, innocent members of humanity suffer. I trust the scientific community because they use critical thinking in order to create a safer community. There is no way of knowing whether God will protect me or anyone else from disease. We have evidence that trusting in science saves lives. Trusting in faith without evidence is deadly. Analyzing information, creating critical solutions, these integral parts of science are what make humankind flourish. We must not let belief without evidence undermine the creativity and safety of humanity.

Carlin, 18, is from Moxee, Wash., and attends Western Washington University. “I am currently planning on being a business and sustainability major, which combines economics with environmental science,” Carlin writes. “My family owns a struggling small business that I often help out at in my free time. I also work part-time at a winery.”