Mayim MishegaasMayim Mishegaas

Where Faith Meets Science

Mayim reflects on the nexus
By Mayim Bialik     Published on 08/25/2015 at 6:31 PM EDT

My goodness! Trending on Facebook for the last two days, hundreds of emails, Tweets and other messages of support, all while launching a site, filming a new season of the Big Bang Theory and starting to get ready for the Emmys on September 20…it’s been an exciting week, hasn’t it!?

Last week, on an interview at FOX411, they asked me if I felt weird to be observant in a secular world and I basically said no, it’s not that weird. I mean, a lot of people are secular in a lot of arenas, and religious/observant people usually figure it out for the most part unscathed!

They asked me if I thought that religiosity will shift in my industry, and the answer was basically no; it’s never going to be some trend that being religiously observant is the hip and happening thing to be. And that’s ok!

Now that I’ve been quoted from here to high heaven (not literally) about being religious in the world of Hollywood, I am getting a lot of inquiries about being religious in the world of science.

And I have three main points to make on this subject.

  1. “The Torah (Old Testament a.k.a. The Bible) is not a science book.”
    My Rabbi at UCLA Hillel used to say that. I think he was quoting someone but now I am quoting him. He also quoted someone who said, “If the Torah is a science book, I have better science books on my shelf.” For me and almost every single religious person I have encountered in my life – even the most religious Chasidic people I have talked to – the Torah is not describing start-to-finish the scientific process of how the world came to be or how the world functions as a scientific entity. Period. There really isn’t more to add to that. I don’t look to the Torah to explain scientific phenomena, ever. I use it as allegory, as moral teaching, as historical document of certain aspects of life at that time and as a code of behavior. It’s not a science book.
  2. Everything is Divine.
    If you’re an atheist or a doubter, and “Divine” makes you uncomfortable, here are some words and phrases you can substitute into the above phrase that convey the same thing.
    “Everything is…
    …awesome” (and also that’s from “The LEGO Movie” which is, indeed, awesome)
    ….perfect the way the universe intended it to be, even in its imperfection…”
    ….included in the plan for the universe…”
    ….fine, even if religious people want to make it about God…”The universe that atheists see is the same one I see. I see the sun come up just like atheists do. I have faith the sun will keep coming up without my needing to make that happen or having any control over it happening. Because that’s the universe and I’m not God or the law of physics. The fact that I want to give thanks about things that occur in the Universe is not hurting anyone. So if you see a rainbow and you think, “Oh wow, that’s so pretty! Hey everybody! Look: it’s a rainbow! Wow that’s so cool!” and I see that same rainbow and it reminds me of the story in the Torah where there is a flood and a rainbow appears as a promise to not flood the world again; and if I mutter to myself, “Blessed are You who remembers the covenant, and is faithful to His covenant and keeps His promise,” does it really harm you? Does it make me not understand the wavelengths that produce the colors of the rainbow? Does it make me not understand water condensation or rain? No. Does it make me some crazy person who isn’t in touch with reality? Au contraire. I get all of it and I love all of it. I love it in a Divine way. Like, it really moves me, sometimes I even get all emotional when I see rainbows. And that’s okay too.Being a person of faith means that all of the phenomena of the world are seen through a lens of gratitude to something bigger than you. But I live in the same world with the same limitations and the same potential for awe and wonder as non-religious people. There’s only Oneness where I come from, so it’s all just…One. So if it’s all the same, and we just go about life differently, and I’m not bothered if you call it physics, then why be bothered that I call it God?
  3. My appreciation for science adds to my religious faith and vice versa. Every time I fall more and more in love with science; with a scientific principle, with the human brain and the human capacity for compassion, with the anatomy of the eye and the way babies exit your body and make you feel like you finally understand the meaning of our existence; with the way your heart feels like it gets put in a blender when the person you’re in love with kisses you and holds you close; with the way every time I have some 40-year-old person ailment like my knees feeling weak and I get to learn how intricate the knee is; all of that stuff makes me feel part of a big, big world of existence. And it strengthens my understanding that I couldn’t create any of it even if I tried forever and into infinity. I can’t turn the tides and I can’t make gravity stop working. I can’t control the movement of subatomic particles and I can’t make someone love me if they don’t. I have no power over this Universe and that makes me love all of the things in the Universe and the powerlessness at the same time. And that’s what a scientist of faith looks like.

Do people kill in the name of religion? Yes. Is religion patriarchal? Absolutely. Do religious people sometimes lie, cheat, and steal by hiding behind their religiosity? Yup. People mess up religion all the time. But that doesn’t change the rainbow; the beauty of DNA replication; the presence of taste receptors on the feet of houseflies; the rush of oxytocin we get during orgasm that makes us bond to mates so that we can raise babies together…

God’s got it figured out. The Universe has it all figured out. We’re just trying to catch up.

And that catching up is what we call our existence. And you know what? Everything is awesome.

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