Using Science and the Bible as a Double-Edged Sword

I am constantly amazed by the way some conservative Christians like to pick and choose which scientific discoveries they believe.  I understand that some say where the Bible and science diverge, we should go with the Bible.  Except when they don’t.  Or when the Bible is silent on the subject.  Or when it suits their purposes.

Some examples of when we’re supposed to Revile Scientists as Evil Atheists Bent on Destroying Our Faith:

-Evolution
-Global warming
-Anything involving sex

When we’re supposed to Hail Scientists as Great Supporters of What We Already Knew:

-Genetics
-Technology

The funny thing is, there are things we take for granted when it comes to science and how it interacts with faith.  For example, when the Bible says the sun stood still, that used to be something to take literally.  It was shocking and scandalous to think that Earth revolves around the sun.  Nowadays, we simply fit our reading of Scripture into what we’ve learned.  Most people would say that particular phrase isn’t strictly literal.  It looks, from our perspective, as though it’s the sun moving.  So our brains read the text as saying that it appeared that the sun stood still.

As I mentioned, we’re supposed to support scientific discoveries when it comes to genetics.  This includes the generally accepted formula of XX = female, XY = male.  No exceptions.  Unless, of course, there are.  It is a fact that just those letters alone can result in multiple variations, with extra chromosomes.  Not only that, even with the standard codes, there can be physiologic (internal and external biology) variations.

When I was pregnant with our first child, and the ultrasound revealed that it was a boy, I started thinking about this.  I was in graduate school, taking a class on human sexuality.  We watched a film on gender identity and gender expression which featured several different scenarios.  There were transpeople (one man and one woman) and a woman who had been born with both sets of genitals but whose parents had chosen to have her male anatomy surgically removed (which left her very confused later on).

I started thinking about what we would do if our child were born with both male and female anatomy.  Would we opt to remove one set?  Which one?  What if he/she regretted it later?  I wondered what we would do if we had raised him as a boy, but he was really a girl—with or without both sets of genitals.  Would we support transitioning?  At what age?

I’m sure that much of my musing was hormone-induced, but I’ve never forgotten it.  At this point, I have two kids who give every indication that they are internally consistent with their external bits.  But what if they weren’t?  All I’ve ever heard from other Christians is that they would need therapy to “make” their internal feelings match their genetic code and their physical bodies.  I’ve just never quite understood why.  I’ve never been clear on why it couldn’t be the other way around.

We’re so quick to jump on the anti-science bandwagon when we think it goes against a literal reading of the Bible.  Why are we so eager to accept science, even when the Bible is silent on the subject?  Yes, I’m aware that there’s a verse about men not wearing women’s clothes (though none about women in men’s clothes, interestingly).  So how come we can eat shrimp, but not cross-dress?  And how about the fact that transpeople aren’t merely cross-dressers?  The Bible gives no guidance on that.

The real issue, for me, is that too many people are willing to dismiss transpeople as crazy, misguided, or just plain strange.  What’s odd about the fact that I’m not so willing is that I don’t know even one single transperson in real life.  I met one transwoman, once, and it was right before she transitioned.  But I’m not okay with waving people aside and making assumptions about others.  And I’m not willing to use a single aspect of science to discredit the very real experiences of people who could be my friends, neighbors, and co-workers.  I’m not even sure I got this blog post right, but I’m open to learning, in the interest of treating all humans with dignity.

If you’re ready to begin to understand people, even those who seem very different from you, good.  Read some books.  Read some articles.  Do some research.  Try to look at things from someone else’s point of view.  And if your heart shatters like glass in the process, so much the better.

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