Complex Characters: Science and Religion

It seems to me that a lot of people are under the impression that science and religion are so incompatible that a person “doesn’t really believe” in one if they believe in both. A scientist can’t be that into science if they are religious or a religious person must cherry pick their holy books if they believe in science. This sometimes comes up in fiction and it’s usually followed by statements that essentially boil down to “I believe in something but it isn’t any particular religion because I also agree with science” or “this can’t be explained by science so it must have something to do with religion”.

Religion is something that is highly personal and someone identifying as being part of a certain faith doesn’t necessarily mean that they believe in everything that everyone else in that faith believes in. Ultimately, religion is the reaction to revelation and there is no way of saying that any particular interpretation of religious texts is inherently wrong. It’s important to understand that these nuances exist because just like anyone else, both religious and scientific people are complex human beings.

I encourage you to read and write fiction with complex religious and/or scientific leaning characters. I’m tired of characters who are solely motivated by either. Instead of the scientist who does despicable things “for science”, how about the scientist who does things because they understand that even as unethical as the things they do are, it doesn’t compare to how bleak the reality is if they don’t do them? Or, instead of either the zealous religious fanatic or the person who rejects religion to do things for “the greater good”, how about the religious character who neither rejects nor is motivated solely by religion but does things on their own volition that happens to align with their religious views? Or even better, the religious scientist who knows that a certain procedure will benefit the “greater good” but refuses to do it anyway because it goes against their beliefs, so someone else does it and they don’t get demonised for it?

People like that exist. I don’t see why they shouldn’t exist in fiction.

By the way, if you know any form of media that has characters similar to the ones I listed above, feel free to recommend them to me. Thanks in advance! 🙂

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