Youth Moderator says science and religion of equal importance to humanity

Hannah Mary Goodlad
Hannah Mary Goodlad

By day she is a North Sea oil and gas industry petroleum geologist.

And on evenings and weekends she is the Moderator of the Church of Scotland's National Youth Assembly.

Some say science and religion are opposites but Hannah Mary Goodlad firmly believes they are "perfect symbiosis" and humanity needs both to survive.

The 25-year-old Shetlander, who lives and works in Aberdeen, said science is "observing truth with our minds while religion is observing truth with our hearts".

Writing in the Church of Scotland's magazine Life and Work, Miss Goodlad said: "The two great passions in my life are science and religion.

"Initially when juxtaposed side by side the two appear to be an odd match. Religion strives in search of the sacred and faith whereas science demands of us evidence, reason and facts.

"Faith plays a big part in my life and I'm not shy about it.

"This intrigues my predominantly 'Dawkins thinking' colleagues and many enlightening, fruitful discussions about the meaning of life are held around our coffee tables."

Miss Goodlad said science was increasingly being used deceivingly in the wrong hands as a tool to deconstruct the very foundations of religion.

"It does not need to be this way," she said.

"Science should not impede the understanding of God, just as religion should not stand in the way of scientific progression.

"Those who try and disprove religion on scientific grounds would be well placed to remember that our God is not extinguished by scientific knowledge.

"After all, the God of the world is the God of science."

Miss Goodlad said she loves science because it helped her look and understand the world with insight andknowledge. However it has its limits.

"I need more, many scientists need more and needing more is a very human condition," she added.

"Science does not help me deal with my loneliness, brokenness or pain.

"Those deeper, human issues belong to our spiritual side and faith is my guiding light when science failsto provide the answers in that realm.

"Science is observing truth with our minds – religion is observing truth with our hearts.

"Both are equals and humanity needs both to survive."

Miss Goodlad said science would always occupy the rational, evidence driven part of her mind but that did not mean that there is no room for the pure and holy.

"In fact, quite the opposite is true," she added.

"By allowing both faith and science to cohabit within ourselves, a much greater relationship of integrity and respect is born.

"It is this relationship that ensures that we are no longer afraid of one disproving the other; we see the benefit of both and value the place of each.

"As Pope John Paul alluded to -religion saves science from idolatry and false absolutes.

"Science steers religion away from superstition and incorrect facts.

"It's the perfect symbiosis."

Since its inception in 1970, the Society, Religion and technology (SRT) Project of the Church of Scotland has been working on issues relating to science and faith.

Please see www.srtp.org.uk for further details.