I have always been fascinated by religion. I understand religion to be a guide to life. It offers rules and guidelines as to what one should and should not do and in doing so creates an education system, a judicial system, a health plan regarding what to eat and what to avoid, a sense of hope, a sense of comfort, a justification to the unexplainable, a higher power to pray to and of course a community. Religion can be so inspiring, so powerful and good, however as much as it has advantages and benefits, it also has its issues.
I find it extremely interesting how so many can give their lives to their religion and love so wholeheartedly something that has never proven its validity. Most religious followers did not logically come to choose their religion, rather they were born into it. Quick to discredit the validity of other religions, do people ever take the time to logically dwell over the possibility that perhaps they have been misled? Are we as human beings free thinkers, or are our beliefs and opinions formed by those around us while we are young and impressionable?
In recent times, due to scientific advancements, there has been an increase in modern secularism, an increase in ‘non-believers’ and an increase in those who identify as Atheists or Non-theists. Through my research, I would like to delve into the minds of students at private, well educated, westernized high-schools and observe their thoughts on the universe, the human species, the existence of a higher power and where they fall on the religious spectrum.
According to Jewish faith leaders and highly intelligent rabbinical figures including Rabbi David Wolpe named the most influential rabbi in America by Newsweek Magazine and one of the 50 most influential Jews in the world by the Jerusalem Post as well as Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, British Orthodox rabbi, philosopher, theologian, author and politician as well as former Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth, Judaism and Science are not contradictory, but rather complimentary, and should be studied simultaneously in order to paint a crystal clear picture of the world we live in.
According to others, however, including the likes of Sam Harris, an American author, philosopher, neuroscientist, blogger, and podcast host and the late Christopher Hitchens, an Anglo-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, religious and literary critic, social critic, and journalist, both of whom are halachically Jewish and two of the ‘four horsemen of modern Atheism,’ Abrahamic religion only obstructs scientific discovery and human advancement.
It is impossible to know the absolute truth, however it is very interesting to understand the reasoning and thought patterns behind the infinitely different understandings of the world that each person possesses. There is no world, only seven billion understandings of it. I would like to explore some of those understandings and place modern, twenty-first century teenagers, more specifically Jewish, King Davidian students on the spectrum of Science, Religion and everything in between.