Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Faith and Work

The other day one of my friends was told by his research adviser that because of my friend's personal beliefs, he was unfit to be an engineer. My reaction to this news was three-fold.

First off, say what? Aren't we past that now? Isn't America supposed to be beyond religious persecution? If my friend thinks his beliefs don't conflict with his work, who is his research adviser to tell him otherwise?

Second, what the heck does engineering have to do with what I believe? Last I checked engineering and science were not the same thing and let's be honest--what does robotics have to do with evolution? Not much.

Third, why do people still have the ridiculously mistaken belief that science and religion are incompatible? (And I'll also admit that people have this ridiculous belief on both sides of the fence! Religious people think they can't believe in science and science people think they can't believe in religion! Ridiculous! But more on this in Thursday's post!)

I will be the first to admit that there are some beliefs that are incompatible with some job options. If you believe modern medicine is wrong, then you shouldn't be a modern doctor. Firm believers in seven day Creationism probably wouldn't make good evolutionary scientists. I get that. But no one should ever be told they can't do something because of what they believe.

Yes, I wouldn't want to work on anything that conflicts with my beliefs. But if I think something doesn't conflict with my beliefs, who are you to tell me they do?

I think this all comes back to my fundamental belief that no one should ever try to tell me what I should and shouldn't do (outside of the law, of course). That is for me to decide. If I think I can and should be an engineer, then I will be an engineer. If I think I can and should be a doctor, then I'll be a doctor. It is not an outsider's place to tell me otherwise--to tell me my capabilities or supposed place.

Yes, I'm a girl. Yes, I'm a Christian. But that doesn't mean I can't or shouldn't be an aerospace engineer, or so I believe. And that's what matters.

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