Faith and Science

by John Green on September 23, 2008

(I wrote this post for YA for Obama and am crossposting it here.)

I don’t talk about it very often, but I’m a religious person. In fact, before I became a writer, I wanted to be a minister. There is a certain branch of Christianity that has so effectively hijacked the word “Christian” that I feel uncomfortable sometimes using it to describe myself. But I am a Christian.

So I’m going to write this blog post as a Christian. I’m not going to write (yet) about the time I met Senator Obama. I’m not going to write (yet) about how Obama’s economic plan offers our country the best opportunity to avoid what will be a long and painful period of economic stagnation no matter who becomes President. But I want to explain three reasons why I feel that I am called not only by my conscience and values but also by my faith to support Barack Obama.

First, there is the question of loving thy neighbor as yourself, which Jesus states clearly and irrevocably is the second most important law for his followers, behind only the love of God. Our healthcare system is profoundly broken because we have failed to live up to this high calling–because most Americans have been willing to live in a nation where tens of millions go uninsured. For all the uninsured (my brother Hank and his wife were among them for many years), bankruptcy is an accident or a diagnosis away. Money they’ve saved to send their kids to college must instead pay for chemotherapy, and not because they made poor choices or failed to work hard, but because they own or work for small businesses, or because they’re unemployed, or because they’ve been sick before and so insurance companies refuse to cover them. (My father, a cancer survivor, couldn’t get health insurance for fifteen years after his recurrence of bladder cancer.)

Making health insurance available to all isn’t going to be easy, and it isn’t going to run smoothly, and it will require sacrifice by all Americans. But I would have happily made the sacrifices involved for my brother or for my father, and so as a Christian I must be willing to make them for all my neighbors. John McCain and Sarah Palin have already said they will not bring meaningful reform to our health care system. Barack Obama, with the support of the U.S. Congress, will.

Secondly, the world in which we live. Apocalypticism has always been a part of Christianity. Early Christians (and some argue Jesus himself) were convinced the world as we know it would not survive for more than a generation or two. For much of recent history, this has meant for many Christians that we don’t need to worry too much about what some Christians derisively call “the World.” Evangelical leaders (and Governor Sarah Palin) have said that man can’t possibly affect the climate, because God made it and humans could never destroy it. (To which I say: Um, okay, but didn’t God make the passenger pigeon?) We are unquestionably called by the Bible to stewardship of the land, and right now that means Americans must make drastic changes in the way we use energy and how we find it. Our failure not to have done this earlier owes to the tremendously powerful oil lobby and an administration that has always protected them over the long-term interests of Americans (and in doing so, has financed a tyrannical regime in Saudi Arabia that has long denied religious freedom or the freedom of expression to its citizens). Climate change is the greatest issue of our time, and if we fail to recognize it, we will be remembered by whatever people remain as the prideful gluttons who said to future generations, “Let them eat cake.”

Finally, science. Sarah Palin has repeatedly stated that she wishes to see creationism taught in our schools. I believe that every Christian (and indeed every American) should be opposed to this. What science has taught us does not invalidate religious faith, and to those evangelical Christians who believe otherwise, I would respectfully say that you are placing too much faith in the power of science. Not that science isn’t powerful: We now know, thanks to rational thought and the testing of hypotheses, that evolution was the driving force behind the breathtaking diversity of life in the world. And we know that the earth has existed far longer than we have. Science has given so much to the experience of being a creature on this planet. But it does not render our spiritual lives irrelevant.

The anti-intellecutalism that has become the hallmark of religious conservatism in contemporary Christianity (and many other religions) will only set us back–not only economically and politically but also spiritually. We must invest in science; we must teach our children the scientific method; we must share with them the myriad discoveries that the scientific method has brought us. And we must do all of these things in classrooms that are in the business of teaching children how to learn, and not in the business of teaching that faith in God is incompatible with the intellectual rigor and creative innovation that have been the glory of our nation’s past. Christianity loses in that bargain, and so, too, does America.

{ 81 comments… read them below or add one }

Allison August 14, 2010 at 12:20 am

Thank you for this blog post. I really loved your take on Christianity. I may not agree with you on your views of evolution, just because I personally believe in creationism (I’m a bit more fundamentalist). I think it’s great that you’re asking for Christians to consider both science and politics and to apply them to what Jesus taught. I love your blog in general though!

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Owen C. Jones March 16, 2014 at 6:24 am

John, thanks for being an example of a religious non-douche in a world of loud, over publicised religious nutters. I’m not myself at all religious, but I am glad to have finally heard (read) a Christian saying (typing) that science does not deny faith.

The if-evolution-then-no-god-therefore-no-evolution lobby frankly do more damage to America and the world in general than pretty much anyone else, except for Fox News, who help the world to see America as the slow younger brother.

Religious people, science does not confirm your faith, but in discovering stuff, it also doesn’t really deny it. If you belief is that the world was created by a god, it doesn’t mean it was made like clay models, if God, whoever he or she is to you, made you, and has omniscience, then that omniscience logically extends to control over the evolutionary process, and, well, everything.

So stop teaching your kids to be stupid. It undermines your faith when they later see palpable evidence that you lied, and start to think of Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Hinduism or whatever other faith you raised them in as a lie that parents tell their kids, like Santa, or the Tooth Fairy. Both of which are TOTALLY real.

Don’t breed distrust in your kids. Tell them what people have found, it doesn’t deny your religious ideas.

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Owen C. Jones March 16, 2014 at 6:25 am

This comment was meant to be in main thread, not as an answer to Allison, above. Sorry about that!

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Sid J. March 26, 2014 at 9:08 pm

I would also like to point out, being an athiest, that if god is the true nature of the universe, it will be (or atleast can be) proven with science. Science, as John said, is learning about the universe and science is not in the business of proving one thing right or wrong. It is in the business discovering what is right or wrong. Even our most fundamental scientific principles were overturned in the early-mid 1900′s and that’s just the nature of science. We discover the truth of the universe. If “God” is that truth, then we will (or may) discover it.

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Sandra June 26, 2014 at 3:22 am

Sid, I agree with you! I am a devoted, unwavering believer and follower of Christ. It would seem that we would be on opposing ends of the spectrum, but here we are in harmony. :) I have felt for a while that true science will never disprove God, and will in fact prove Him, if the earth lasts long enough. I shake your hand and give you a hug!

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Brittany August 14, 2010 at 1:07 am

It is people like those who have hijacked “Christian” that caused me to become the most miserable, misplaced agnostic ever.
It’s people like you who are calling me back to my once-professed religion day by day, where I feel I truly belong.
Thanks for NotForgettingTBA :)

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Emily August 1, 2013 at 12:01 pm

3 years later…I totally second your sentiments, Brittany! I recently discovered the Greens and, at a time when I too feel stuck in the rut of miserable, misplaced agnosticism, I am so encouraged by individuals like John who reflect a beautifully-different portion of God’s image.
So much love, Emily

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Josephine November 28, 2013 at 2:08 am

Hey, Brittany. Having been a former atheist I think it could be good for us to talk. I am now a Christian and you seem to be becoming one yourself. I’m here if you want to talk. That’s all. Have a nice day. :)

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Gabriella December 10, 2013 at 2:50 pm

Hi Josephine,
Would you like to tell us how and why did you become a Christian? :)

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Gareth October 30, 2011 at 9:19 am

Thank you so much for this! I’m an atheist and believe that it’s not what religion or philosophy we follow, but how we follow it. For awhile I was very angry with religious people, many of the strongest proponents of atheism are firmly anti-theistic and argue very powerfully. However watching your videos, reading your books and now this insightful essay (have you written any more, if so where would one find them?) which agrees so closely with values I have held for years makes me remember that religious people are no more inherently bad than anyone else and to think so is to forget to be awesome.

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Braedon Carswell February 24, 2012 at 9:42 pm

I’m a non-believer, but it makes me really happy to see your take on the relationship of Christianity and science. Too often people feel the need to attack science based on principle, but I don’t think it needs to be that way.

Politically, as someone outside the faith, Christianity seems logically to fit in the left of the political spectrum, there is so much in the bible about loving your fellow man, and ensuring people’s basic needs are met, your take on that is wonderful.

It means a lot to see a Christian take on the world not opposed to my own, it makes me feel so much less alienated, and I thank you for that, sincerely.

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Nick April 11, 2012 at 1:29 am

To repeat what the others have said, I too am an atheist, and am so glad that we of differing beliefs can come upon the same opinion in matters that concern us all. As noted by Braedon, I do find it unique that many Christians fall on the opposite side of the political sphere given the values that Jesus preached. I think it is a tragedy that Christians and atheists don’t see eye-to-eye on many things outside the social realm. You are a model to Christians everywhere, John Green.

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Ryan Dennison April 11, 2012 at 10:25 pm

Having recently (1-2 years ago) made the switch from stereotypical anti-science conservative Christian to… pro-science, libertarian Christian, I’m in the unusual predicament of completely agreeing and disagreeing with everything you just said John. On the one hand, your arguments are completely sound, and in many ways a better representation of authentic Christianity than most “Christians” today. On the other hand, my conservative roots were crying foul at the idea of yielding to the federal government the sort of control necessary to address the problems you discuss. I believe that in a civil discussion, the vast majority of Christians and conservatives would agree with everything you said, but simply don’t trust that sort of power in Washington’s hands. After all, the New Testament model of brotherhood existed among the disciples as caring individuals, not under the auspices of the Roman or Jewish governments.

That said, I think you missed out on a fabulous point. As you mentioned in your Crash Course video on Judaism and Christianity, one can’t understand Christianity or Jesus, without understanding the Jewish faith. It was Judaism, which according to Paul was fulfilled, not replaced, that set the responsibilities for social justice and environmental responsibility in the hands of the government. It’s ironic too, given that it is overwhelmingly the conservative Christians who label themselves the “true” disciples, or hold to the dispensationalist views.

Lest I begin rambling, it’s wonderful to see intelligent, articulate Christians able to have *real* discussion with people of all faiths. If more believers were like you, perhaps we could have more open conversations about faith–with more people holding honest beliefs, rather than being “Anti-Christian” or “Anti-Atheist.”

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Travis Carroll October 2, 2012 at 3:23 pm

Thank you, John. Thanks for establishing that Christianity is not about being an ass. It always makes me mad when I tell people I’m a Christian and they ask if I hate gays and other Westboro Baptist Church-esque questions. I think another major thing that a lot of ignorant athiests and even Christians fail to realize is that CATHOLIC SCHOOLS TEACH EVOLUTION. We are not ignorant to science (well…most of us). My points are:
Thanks John
Christians aren’t inherently asshats

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Caity Jo November 29, 2012 at 11:21 pm

Hey John,

I’ve been searching for quite a while on your religious beliefs.
Thank you so much for helping me open my mind to my religion a little more. It is so hard to practice in a considerate and proper way with all of this different religious jargon clouding ones vision.

Thanks again. You’re pretty amazing.
Caity Jo

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Thomas Kim December 22, 2012 at 6:35 pm

First, I would like to say that you are an effervescent and humorous intellectual on print and camera.
However, you give approbation to, in your conclusion, the scientific method and how the implementation of such modus operandi can progress the agenda/advancement of civilization. I agree as well, but where I diverge from acquiescence is of the following:
1) where and what are the evidence which convinces you that there is a deity?
2) is the evidence that you are willing to present familiar, if not exactly parallel, to the evidence given by other believers of a different faith?
3) what ethical preachment or moral action can only be stated or conducted by a believer of a faith than that of a nonbeliever?

Once again, thanks for producing shows of education, which bear many fruits that have been sedulously reaped by students of learning.
DFTBA.

an aspiring writer,
Thomas N. Kim

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Kevin March 20, 2013 at 7:16 pm

Nobody needs proof of a god in religion. They call it faith for a reason. Understand that I am answering your question, not attacking you. No our evidence may not be different, but maybe we are looking at it the wrong way. I am a Christian universalist ( I know it sounds contradictory, but I believe it’s all the same god that people interpret differently.) and lastly I agree with on your third question. You would know more about my unethical behavior because who wants to think of themselves as unethical. I respect you for your point of view and I wish that you would respect other’s as well. Have a nice day and DFTBA!

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Alexandra October 16, 2013 at 8:55 pm

Your first sentence made me so happy! Thank you!

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Kat March 7, 2014 at 3:45 pm

If you are a Christian, then you do not NEED proof of God, but there is a lot out there. Facts help strengthen our faith and have answers for anyone who asks us to give the reason for the hope we have in Christ Jesus. (1 Peter 3:16). Relying in faith alone and only what one feels is foolish, because feeling are fickle. God tells us to trust in him and not lean on our own understanding, because what we perceive is not always the truth. I respectfully disagree that you can be a Christian and a universalist. As sad and unfortunate as it is, Jews, Muslims, Hindus, ect. will not go to heaven. There is one true God, as is says in the Bible, which needs to be a Christians guidebook for life.

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Human June 17, 2014 at 3:11 am

‘Faith’ is, by definition, a belief that is not based on proof. You cannot correctly interpret facts and find that they support your faith, because then it would not be a faith- it would be a scientifically supported hypothesis.

‘As sad and unfortunate as it is’- well, your just and fair God clearly has some failings, then.

I mean this all with the utmost respect, but as an atheist, I find John’s take on religion far more reasonable, open-minded and well thought out. His belief in what I infer he sees as a nebulous being is compatible with open mindedness than the strict, exclusive rules that you seem to believe in.

Calais January 26, 2013 at 10:17 pm

Science and God shouldn’t be two separate things. Science is just one manifestation of His glory

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Ivan April 23, 2013 at 6:04 pm

*FACEPALM*
This is why I am not a Christian anymore… I’ve been around too many people like you.

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Aiden August 22, 2013 at 12:39 pm

So Ivan, how would people like Calais deter you from staying Christian? Is thinking that everything is for the glory of the Lord too much or too traditional for you? Not to call you out, but if you were formerly a true Christian then you would believe that science is a manifestation of his glory, if that is too much for you than so be it, but that is how it is, and any true Christian will believe the same thing, just think on that. Hope you have a great day! (sorry about the run on sentences, just how I talk on my phone)

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Camryn February 25, 2014 at 7:33 pm

I frankly think it just depends on your definitions of the words “science” and “God”. As an atheist, I believe science is the functions and things that make the universe work but I believe God is something people have made up in their minds.

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Marlene June 5, 2013 at 3:43 pm

I would have to agree with you, Calais. Science is here because of God. Science is a way to learn about His creation, though some scienist find it a way to discover this “randomly created” world. In a way Ivan, you sorta have a point. Theyre are some churches where you have to dress a certain way and act a certain way and if you have a brother who was claimed of murder they will disown you. But the church I now go to we dress in whatever and die our hair lime green and not get so much as a glance. our music consists of drums and electric guiters and we know God doesn’t frown upon us for that. you should come to my church ivan ;)
DFTBA

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AnaBeth October 22, 2013 at 5:50 pm

Science and God ARE two separate things though, though not mutually exclusive. At least, that’s how I see it. I can’t agree with you, Marlene, that Ivan has a point. Ivan did not present a point – he passed a harsh judgment, and gave no support whatsoever. I do appreciate your effort to keep things friendly and give the benefit of the doubt, but NONE of what you mentioned had anything to do with what Ivan said.
Ivan – did you mean that you no longer associate yourself with the religion, but you still have faith? Or did you mean that you abandoned your faith entirely?

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Nick #2 March 3, 2013 at 5:24 pm

I really appreciated this. I’m so glad people have the opportunity through you, Hank — and me, though I don’t have quite the spotlight — to see a rational, intelligent side of Christianity.

I do disagree, however, on the issue of Leftism and how it applies to Christianity. While, yes, Christ urges us to care for the poor, Christ also urges us not to steal from others. I fail to see any true difference between stealing an individual’s money with a gun in my hand and using government force to take the money. Theft still remains inherent to the act, regardless of how I go about it, even regardless of how I intend to use the resources attained thereby.

By all means we are called to be Leftists individually (if it’s logically possible to use that phraseology). I just don’t think it’s fair to coerce the nation through government force to give up their hard earned money.

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AnaBeth October 22, 2013 at 6:04 pm

I didn’t agree with the Leftism application either…
I’ve always believed we are called to help other people – “He will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did not do for one of the least of these, you did not do for me.’”
To me, this doesn’t mean that those who choose not to work should be getting a free ride from those who do work – “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.”
I DO NOT have a problem with caring for those who are genuinely unable to work or to provide for themselves in whatever way. I also DO NOT believe that the government is capable of discerning between those who want a free ride and those who want help. The government also seems to be seriously lacking in any understanding that giving someone a job to earn money is far more useful than giving someone money. Like, in every way possible.

In short (sort of) I believe it is our duty as Christians to help people provide for themselves, rather than provide for them mindlessly so that their ability to provide for themselves is in any way diminished. Whew.

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TinHeart October 28, 2013 at 7:51 pm

And he saith unto them, “Whose is this image and superscription?” They say unto him, “Caesar’s.” Then saith he unto them, “Render therefore unto Caesar the things which are Caesar’s; and unto God the things that are God’s.”

–Jesus, on paying your taxes.

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Andrea March 20, 2013 at 10:18 pm

Thank you, because in seven brief paragraphs you managed to be informative, as well as respectful towards both views. As a Christian, I am beyond (way beyond, beyond) thrilled to find another Christian that supports evolution! Science and religion do not oppose each other! Christians and their opposites do.

Evolution is simply a process that God used to create all the beautiful things in this world– it is in no way contradictory to His power. Some people (and I’m generalizing here, sorry), take phrases from the Bible way too literally, and completely disregard the rich metaphorical meaning behind it.

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tim October 10, 2013 at 1:43 pm

Last I checked, God is a literal God. He says he’s gonna do something and he does it, so you’re wrong, we should take the bible literally. The people who fell to flood didn’t take God literally, eve didn’t take God’s instructions literally, and lots wife didn’t take God literally and look what happened to her. God is a God who keeps his word because his words are true and creation is what his words speak, not monkeys becoming humans.

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AnaBeth October 22, 2013 at 8:10 pm

Tim… God said he created the world, the universe, the animals and the people, all of it. Last I checked, he didn’t explain to you personally, or to anyone else, exactly how he did it. We see fossil evidence of the process that God used, and we call it evolution. Do you think God is so small that He can’t use “evolution” to “create”? “Taking the Bible literally” is very different from saying “God couldn’t be any greater than my own flawed understanding of him.”
Also, NO ONE believes that monkeys turned into humans. No one has ever said that bacteria turned into whales, or gave birth to whales, though I have been accused of believing all those things. We share an ancestor with monkeys, but that is VERY different.

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sejb May 20, 2014 at 8:56 pm

I find that when someone says they take every word of the Bible literally they haven’t read much of it. Do you believe the earth and everything on it was made exactly the way it is described in the first chapter of Genesis? Well then what do you do with the second chapter when creation is described in a different order? Are they both literally accurate when they are different?

Little food for thought for you Tim.

Peace,
Sharon

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Ben March 22, 2013 at 12:49 am

An absolutely brilliant post. I was (until probably a few months ago) a hard line atheist. Now, I identify as a Christian. That being said, many of my friends are either anti-theists or atheists. And I feel rather uncomfortable identifying as a Christian around them, because I feel they’ll associate me with the far right political machine.

That being said, you’re an outstanding model of a Christian. And while I tend to lean libertarian on most issues, I do agree with the issue of national healthcare. We all deserve healthcare, and while I think private healthcare should exist for those who can afford it, those can’t deserve the same basic rights as those who can.

A big fan,
Ben

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Ivan April 23, 2013 at 6:07 pm

Why did you take a step back to the delusional experience from rational thinking? What made you step back?

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Paloma June 20, 2013 at 10:58 am

Materialism is just another belief system. Be careful throwing around those go-to phrases antitheists love to use. Atheist is not synonymous with rational, just as belief does not always mean delusion. Don’t make Mr. Dawkins your Messiah, friend. Science cannot explain everything.

-Atheist-turned-Catholic

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J.W. May 26, 2014 at 3:09 am

“Don’t make Mr. Dawkins your Messiah, friend.” Can I steal this one? :)

I think you’ve said what most Christians (or people of faith in general) have been extremely frustrated with in such conversations, that being religious docks IQ points or otherwise hinders you from being the highly intelligent being you were before. This rhetorical tactic of diminishing the other side’s subject/argument is only illusory in its effectiveness.

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Alex Ahnert April 29, 2013 at 12:06 am

I am a huge fan of your videos on YouTube, however after reading this I can only say that I am a little disappointed in your beliefs.

If God lied in the first chapter of the Bible then how could the rest be true?

My personal belief if that the Bible is 100% accurate, and if for some reason I discovered the Bible was inaccurate, I would have no choice but to reject the entire Bible.

If anyone is wanting to discuss/debate my beliefs with me, please do, but please don’t attack me.

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Robert Becker April 29, 2013 at 1:21 am

Have you ever considered the possibility that the first chapter of the bible need not be taken literally, but rather metaphorically? What if a non-literalist interpretation of Genesis was originally intended by God?

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Alex Ahnert April 29, 2013 at 3:42 pm

How would we know which parts of the Bible are literal, and which parts are metaphorical?

Also this sound like an excuse to only believe the parts of the Bible that are convenient for you.

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Casey May 24, 2013 at 7:30 am

I don’t think that it’s necessarily metaphorical. But you have to come to terms with the fact that the bible was written thousands of years ago. Most of the stories in Genesis were told orally for thousands of years before they were written down. Even if the original stories were divinely inspired or were true tales of interacting with God, how much would those stories have changed each time they were told until they finally reached Moses’ ears to write? Particularly something like a creation story would have been spun in a million different directions. There may have been thousands of stories of Adam and Eve, and we just know the one because that’s the one that Moses heard growing up.

And how do we know that Genesis is even what Moses wrote down? Even if you somehow come across a version that hasn’t been translated from Hebrew to Greek to Latin and back, before the advent of the Gutenberg press priests were writing it out by hand. You have to allow for human error in those cases, and thousands of years is plenty of time for lots of human error to build up.

I’m not saying you should throw out Genesis altogether, though. It’s just that blindly believing that the words you’re reading today are the same words that God gave the original author is sort of a ridiculous presumption, once you really think about it. However, no matter how many grains of salt you take the words with, the lessons behind the stories are still there. We’ve all heard the classic fairy tales told a million ways over, but there’s always the same lessons behind them. Personally, I think that this is how you should take the bible. Read it, and figure out what lessons it’s trying to teach you. This is a bit harder with the old testament than with the new, I know. But the lessons are certainly there, and with all this focus on whether to take the bible literally or not, they’re frequently lost.

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tim October 10, 2013 at 1:49 pm

Last I checked, God is a literal God. He says he’s gonna do something and he does it, so you’re wrong, we should take the bible literally. The people who fell to flood didn’t take God literally, eve didn’t take God’s instructions literally, and lots wife didn’t take God literally and look what happened to her. God is a God who keeps his word because his words are true and creation is what his words speak, not monkeys becoming humans.

TinHeart October 28, 2013 at 7:56 pm

If you take the Bible and all stories in it completely literally, how do you reconcile the two different versions of how Judas died?

Many people I have asked this in the past claim that at least one version is partially if not totally metaphorical.

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CharlotteM January 11, 2014 at 11:44 pm

I believe that this may clear up your confusion about Judas’ death. http://www.tektonics.org/gk/judasdeath.html

Glad to clarify,
Char

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Deanna June 1, 2013 at 4:47 am

I know this is a really old post, but I was just kind of wondering if John and Hank Green were Christians; I watched them on Youtube.

I’ll just get right to the point. It irks me when people use “love your neighbor” as a the basis for following Jesus, and overlook the scripture that came before it : Love God FIRST. If doing something makes your neighbor “happy,” but God doesn’t accept it, then that’s a no go (and I hate to use gay marriage as an example, because I know it’s a touchy and passionate subject for a lot of people, but that is one issue that people try to validate with the “love your neighbor argument”).

People try to make light of that verse, and it allows for lots of things that God just doesn’t accept, and that people would know about if they REALLY read the Bible for themselves, and took it is a WHOLE. I don’t want to sound like a “religious nut” or whatever, but the truth has got to get out there. . . I feel like I shouldn’t even have to say this, but I don’t hate gay people or anything. I love them, but I love God first.

Some final thoughts: I don’t think that science and Christianity are incompatible (I love science, for me, science is figuring out the complexity of things made by a complex God), but I don’t believe that we crawled out of primordial ooze, I do think the Bible is the inerrant word of God (Genesis, too, folks–if you look into the Hebrew, the word “day” refers to a “time period,” not the “day’ that we currently think about). . .and yeah. . .(sometimes I’m not the best with organizing my thoughts or ending a thought well. :] )

But! I love you all, and Jesus loves us so much more. I hope Jesus touches you all one day.

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Emily August 1, 2013 at 12:28 pm

Deanna–I appreciate your words, and do believe that you love people as you say. It sounds like we come from similar cultural/theological backgrounds, so I can definitely relate.

One thing that recently had a mind-blowing effect on my thinking was a friend’s experience of the “Hebraic worldview” while in Israel. As opposed to what could be called the “Greek worldview,” Hebraic thought emphasizes open questioning over debating, “right-doing” over “right-thinking.” (See “The Hebrew Mind vs. The Western Mind” by Brian Knowles for more info.) I don’t personally feel that Hebraic thought is altogether perfect or anything, but it has been teaching me a lesson: God made man in his image, but we are also all uniquely made and uniquely gifted. I think this means that an individual’s interpretation of scripture as well as societal issues is likely to differ from another person’s, and this is both OK and a beautiful reflection of God’s complexity.

I personally find in scriptures many causes for affirming same-sex marriage and many causes for caution when interpreting questionably-translated condemnations of homosexuals (see http://www.gaychristian.net/justins_view.php). For me, this is a viewpoint-in-progress, and not a cold hard fact. Lots of people have different opinions with personal and cultural experiences to back them up, and I think that’s awesome and would love to hear more about where your views are coming from, too. :)

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TinHeart October 28, 2013 at 8:02 pm

Leviticus is full of things that displease God, but many people ignore almost all of it except for the part about homosexuality.

Would you forbid Gay Marriage, but wear a t-shirt that is a polly/cotton blend? Because one is something you should not have control over, and the other is something you have complete control over. And both offend God.

A Jewish friend of mine once pointed out that she would never forbid other people from eating a cheeseburger, even though it is against her religion. If you truly believe that God is displeased with same-sex marriage, do not marry someone of your same sex.

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Sara June 4, 2013 at 5:36 pm

I like this post a lot. I think sometimes society (or non-believers) define Christians as know-it-alls who think they are above others and who hate gays and abortion. I know I’m generalizing a lot. But I think we Christians have dug ourselves into a rut because of some things we say. I too believe in science and God and I think they can mesh. I think the Bible was not meant to be fully metaphorical or literal. Very good post!

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KZ June 8, 2013 at 12:29 am

I love finding out that someone who is bright and intelligent is actually a Christian (and a real one, not someone who calls themselves that and defies it by their own actions) simply because in today’s world there aren’t many or at least they are very hard to find! I’m not sure what you meant by your view on science and evolution etc. but I highly recommend (if you haven’t already!) you read a little tiny book called ‘Science and God’ by Scott Petty (I believe its part of the ‘Little Black Books’ series) which I love! It sums up pretty much what I’ve been trying to sort of explain to myself since I can remember!
I love science and I believe it still has so much potential however I am also a devout Christian, yes I go to church, yes I pray, yes I read the Bible…but no unlike what the whole world seems to be speculating I’m not perfect nor do I think I am! No I don’t have a perfect life where literally nothing goes wrong; I’m just like you! Also, get this, I’m not religious. I think the word is absurd and it confuses me…to me the word religious means crazy person who bashes people with Bibles or crucifixes or whatever religious artefact people use to condemn others! Which shouts HYPOCRICY to me as it says in the Bible that we should love others not condemn them!

Sorry getting off topic! I do that. This book is excellent (well at least that’s my opinion!) it discusses why Christians don’t actually need to (or more to the point CANNOT) choose between God and science. It explores the concept of explaining the natural (organic, inorganic material) without science is preposterous and explain the super-natural (things we cannot seem to explain or understand) without God is also preposterous etc. etc. I love this book because it’s spoken on a scientific level and backed up by science and not just some religious person going on about how science evil!
I think science is amazing and in some ways it’s like God’s way of showing off by making amazing things with intricate details, just for us!

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Julie June 21, 2013 at 11:28 am

You make a lot of great points in this post and you have a very refreshing point of view. This is very well written and I enjoyed reading it.

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Devin August 8, 2013 at 10:28 pm

Hello sir. I realize it’s been years since you wrote this, so most likely you won’t be reading this comment, but I’ll write it anyway. At first, I wondered whether the enormous feeling of relief I got from reading this post was bad (does my faith really depend so much on this one man that I need him to verify it for me by his profession?), but then I realized, that the relief came from you making it easier. Someone who is knowledgeable and reasonable and who doesn’t find his comfort (at least from what I’ve seen of your videos) in tradition, but in fact, and in truth. And while I think we disagree on some things, the knowledge that that is okay, and that that situation of disagreement can be used to challenge myself to learn and think, is knowledge that I am very glad to have. Thank you John Green, and God bless.

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Debbie September 10, 2013 at 4:20 pm

My adult daughter has fallen in love with your work. I must confess that I have not read it, but was interested in the author who writes that which captures her mind, heart, and attention. After reading this portion of your site, I’m sorely disappointed in this. Granted your books may not show all of who you are, but they will be reflective of you.
Your disdain for Ms. Palin and desire to keep the teaching of creation (even as an option) is disheartening. I’ll be the first to agree to disagree on most matters. And I appreciate honesty–even if I don’t like what’s being said. However, it is your socialistic views that will cause this nation to crumble.
Forget about the dollar, the environment, or any other source you choose. As I go about this journey trying not to be so set in my ways and open to what others believe, I find those who claim to be the most tolerant and open are those who won’t tolerate anything that goes against their thoughts/beliefs and have the most closed minds of all. Heartbreaking, actually.

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RenoneMontanez September 19, 2013 at 8:38 pm

You’re not sounding very tolerant yourself. Stop accusing him of stuff he didn’t even say.

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Debbie October 4, 2013 at 5:19 pm

“Making health insurance available to all isn’t going to be easy, and it isn’t going to run smoothly, and it will require sacrifice by all Americans. But I would have happily made the sacrifices involved for my brother or for my father, and so as a Christian I must be willing to make them for all my neighbors. John McCain and Sarah Palin have already said they will not bring meaningful reform to our health care system. Barack Obama, with the support of the U.S. Congress, will.” Government controlled healthcare = socialism. No two ways around it.

“Secondly, the world in which w”Finally, science. Sarah Palin has repeatedly stated that she wishes to see creationism taught in our schools. I believe that every Christian (and indeed every American) should be opposed to this…” Why, of all people, her?

He said it.

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TinHeart October 28, 2013 at 8:23 pm

How will his views on healthcare cause this nation to crumble? Is America weaker than every single first world country? Why is Canada stronger than we are? Does God favor Great Britain more? Is Australia simply better than we are?

It is heartbreaking to think this is honestly the best we can do.

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Caleb C September 28, 2013 at 8:06 pm

Ever since seeing a few of your Crash Course lessons in World Studies(which continues to occur), I wondered about your faith. Specifically because of your questions about life’s meaning. Personally, I believe life’s meaning is to live for God which coincides with living for others well-being. “Love thy neighbour as thyself”.
It’s nice to know that such an entertaining and educating person will be amongst God.
God bless and in best wishes,
Caleb

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Isabelle October 19, 2013 at 3:26 pm

Hi Mr. Green! I love your crash course videos which we use all the time in AP history at my school. I think you are a very effective communicator, one of the most intelligent people I’ve seen on YouTube, and a respectful observer. I go to an all girls episcopal school where we study evolution as the foundation of biology and We have a gay-straight alliance club. I like to investigate my faith, ask questions, and see applications of Christian values in the world. when I meet people outside of school in theater, I feel that they may perceive me differently if I identify myself as a Christian. I don’t always even know what being a Christian means nowadays, but its people like you that encourage me to find out. Thank you.

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Shelley Sonntag November 3, 2013 at 3:25 pm

John, I don’t know if you’ll ever see this, but while I disagree on certain points, I LOVE that you point out that Christians do not need to be afraid of science. Science is beautiful in that it helps us to understand the world that God created for us. Thank you for sharing this.
DFTBA,
Shelley :)

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Aravinda January 27, 2014 at 1:20 pm

I serehcad a bunch of sites and this was the best.

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Laurie January 5, 2014 at 5:10 pm

My father is a preacher. I am a preachers daughter, and not at all a typical one. I do not pretend to be perfect, I’m far from it. But not at all the rebellious kind trying to defy the political power we call parents. My faith has always been very important to me and has helped guide the decisions I have made in life. Mr. Green i just wonder if now you still have the same opinions you had when you wrote this paper. Do you still consider yourself even partially a christian, do you still agree with Obama? Now that this healthcare you speak of so fondly is not just an idea but a reality what do you think? When Ms. Pelosi said “we’ll have to pass it to find out whats in it.” I realized not even the people campaigning for this to pass new what it really was. Please right back!

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Anonymous February 28, 2014 at 1:36 am

I’m a PK too.

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Carolina March 29, 2014 at 5:22 am

Me too.

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Shannan January 22, 2014 at 6:17 pm

I like your post. (Being a Canadian, I still don’t get the concept of why political affiliation would appear to go against the faith….unless it was like the Taliban or something) After all, didn’t Jesus himself say that those who fed others fed him?
Anyway, I feel I have to disagree on the creationism thing. I don’t know what is done in the States, but all we get is evolution-and a lot of the science teachers at my school are bad for not just disagreeing with creationism (which I would have no problem with), but downplaying us Creationists to look like complete idiots. Personally, I think they both should be taught at schools-along with other methods that people believe the Earth was created. That way, each student can decide for themselves and not have 0ne or the other forced upon them.
I’m not sure why Creationism is counted as unintellectual. If taken from the Hebrew directly, ‘days’ is time. So the Bible says it was created in 7 periods of time. Just food for thought ;)

By the way, thanks to the Green fandom for being so polite! Most of the time I read anything about religion, and as soon as a debate happens it gets really embarassing to read.

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Ania January 27, 2014 at 7:07 pm

This really annoys me. If you believe in evolution and the fact that the Earth is a lot older than any version of the hypocritical and boring bible states then what kind of “Christian” do you mean you are? Nowhere in this text is there any mention of attending church or reading bible verses. So, do you just believe that there is only the one divine, holy-ghost-spirit-whatever-blah-blah God and that Jesus existed and did all the “amazing” things he did? Because otherwise, this sounds more like the banter of a very dishonestly humble agnostic person. And also, did you mean to steal the peeing into a beer bottle idea from Dumb and Dumber?

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Jeannette Souza January 31, 2014 at 4:27 pm

I wonder how your feeling about this blog about now. I think Obama just may be the antichrists John the Baptist. I am so praying for you. May the Lord bring you back to the faith of your youth.

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Timothy Jackson January 31, 2014 at 6:07 pm

I’ve been a huge fan of yours, John, for quite a few years, and respect your opinions tremendously. I do, too, have an issue with the stigma people place on the word Christian, and often times hate the hypocritical actions that other so-called “Christians” have made throughout history. I guess you would say I am a very religious person, as many of my atheist friends label me :) but with that said, I think many people fail to actually read the Bible and the CONTEXT that goes with it. I upsets me to see so many young adults bend and compromise their beliefs so easily. I try very hard to keep an open mind toward others opinions, but I will never let it shake my faith.

I know you wrote this a long time ago, and I would never have responded if I didn’t see that people were still commenting. However, what is everyone’s take on when the Bible states one thing, and people have a hard time believing it so that they twist the words to fit their own beliefs? The Bible clearly states 6 days for creation, and in Hebrew days literally means “sun and then moon” days like we know it. In countries around the world people are taught creationism, and evolutions, and others theories because the truth is nobody was there in the beginning to witness it, so everything has to be taken on faith. Whether people like to admit they have faith in something (science, God, ect.) is another topic. What I meant to lead into is that people need to decided for themselves what they want to believe in, and that can only be done when you have looked at all possibilities.

I would like to say I am so thankful I live in a country where we do get to decide our beliefs and that we can have respectable conversations like this one.

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Anonymous February 28, 2014 at 1:35 am

I loved this! It made me appreciate you even more! I can’t read anything though. I read The Fault in Our Stars, and now I can’t focus on anything. This better go away, because I have school tomorrow, and I can’t be writing “I am a grenade” on my math worksheet. I can’t be writing eulogies for Hazel and Gus. Which I have done in my head, without actually writing anything down. I feel no shame.

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Heather April 3, 2014 at 11:29 pm

There is only one God. He’s in heaven and yet he’s everywhere. He’s the one and only. Beginning and end. He created the world. I was hoping you were Christian because I (obviously) am, but the fact that you’re not doesn’t change how much I love TFIOS. It’s one of my favorite books. I’m reading Looking for Alaska right now and it’s not nearly as good.

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K Corbin April 8, 2014 at 3:28 pm

Sir Isaac Newton believed the study of science is the study of God. I wholeheartedly concur with him on that. When one studies anything in science – anatomy, physiology, ecology, physics, etc. – it is impossible not to see God’s handiwork.

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Anderson April 13, 2014 at 3:23 pm

What if evolution was considered a philosophy with Darwin as the philosopher? That would change our whole way of thinking!
I just finished Looking for Alaska, and watching God’s Not Dead.
They have a similar theme and moral application.
We have to have faith and hope in something greater than ourselves to get us out of the labyrinth.

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anika jimenez May 22, 2014 at 1:26 pm

I am a Christian too and have a hard time admiting it to the world ! But knowing that one of my favorite authors can say hes a Christian literally to almost the whole world i feel like i should have the same confidence as you . Maybe i just needed someone out there that i luv! To say he wz a Christian like me . So thanku for giving me that confidence . I know that i need to start being what i am even though people may judge me i know that i need to have more confidence in myself becauz of u ! So thanku

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hannah bibb May 22, 2014 at 10:04 pm

Dear John,
im a twelve year old neardfighter. I nearly met you at the demand our stars event in dallas, but sadly the event was a disappointment :c if you read this, just thank you for being such an amazing author. your books have made me smile when nothing else could. i cant wait to see the movies for your books. I one day hope to meet you, as of right now you are my favorite author. Bye now! Okay? Okay. ^-^

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Elliott May 26, 2014 at 6:36 pm

Wait, so… now John Green decides who is and isn’t a ‘real Christian’?

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Sasha May 27, 2014 at 2:50 pm

how does john support Obama as a christian when Obama supports abortion?

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Lindsay July 20, 2014 at 9:31 pm

I’m happy to hear that you are a Christian. I know exactly what you mean when you say you feel awkward labeling yourself so because of certain stems of Christianity due to their decisions , beliefs, and outlooks. John Green… I was born into the evangelical sect of Christianity and as a 16 year old in public schools, persecution is at an all time high because “Baptist” is viewed to be strict, demanding, and above all, a bit too much. Why don’t I wear floor length skirts and only let the male gender speak for me? God put women on earth to do SOMETHING. But that’s beside the point. I request, as a 16 year-old-Jesus -Freak girl who has read TFIOS and Alaska (Unfortunately, I’ve only been able to read these 2 amazing books and have yet to read your other 2 ½ titles) to write more. You’re views are important to me because I like knowing the author so I can understand where their writing is coming from. You, John Green, have inspired me. Maybe not greatly, but you’ve set a spark.

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Vanessa July 22, 2014 at 3:32 pm

Late to the party? Yes, I am.

I just wanted to say thank-you. You have no idea how much this article has meant to me.

Thank you, John.

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elizabeth July 27, 2014 at 10:51 pm

I know this is late and all, but better late then never, right?

Science and Christianity build each other up, affirm one another and glorify God. I am follower of Christ, and love the Lord with all my being. I firmly believe that Science and the Bible go hand in hand. But when you say you believe in Evolution and God; I cannot understand how you can so blatantly disregard what the bible says. And if you are a Christian; how can you believe in some of the bible but not of all it. I have been taught in school, that as a Christian we put our faith in God, and science clearly points to him in everyway; however man can distort things to make it what they want to see.
I know not everything has stayed the same since the beginning of time. Honestly, how could it? People
lived insanely long, short, and now are living longer. And there are different breeds of : cats, dogs, horses, fish, and no doubt a numerous other amount of animals that were not all made on the day when god made all the animals. But what I am saying is, I do not believe macroevolution (For there is data disproving “Lucy” and many macroevolution hoaxes); but I do believe in microevolution because people, animals, and nature does change over generations. And I do hope that you don’t read this comment and sneer and jeer at a fifteen-year-old girl who has not had nearly as much education and life experience as you do (being older and reknowned author), but to consider these comments and maybe think about them when your laying in bed at night and cant sleep.
Sincerely a lover of your writing,
elizabeth

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Vincent44 August 27, 2014 at 11:01 am

John I love your videos. I am just sort of shocked that your a chrisitan. I am having a hard time understanding how you can mix evolution, science, the vastness of space and:
The human species being propagated from two people, rib women, talking snakes, the entire Noah’s arc story, virgin birth, etc.

I am trying to understand how you can believe in all of these things simultaneously then I ask myself….. is it fear of coming out as an atheist? Is it because you were you raised religious ? I mean parental or peer rejection is a very terrible thing to go through, and understandably very scary. I would like you to explain a little more about your beliefs if you could….. Thank you.

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Michael95 September 23, 2014 at 2:07 pm

I mean it all depends on how you read the text right? I’m assuming John reads the creation story and early narratives of Genesis as being metaphorically true. They are etiological tales told to help humans understand where they came from, and they impart valuable lessons about how we should understand life, the universe, and everything. It is no different, in genre, than the tales told in enuma elish, or the epic of gilgamesh, other etiological tales from the Ancient Near-East.

With that reading, religion isn’t making any scientific claims…which it shouldn’t. Render unto religion what is Religion’s, and render unto Science what is Science’s.

DFTBA

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