SHIFT questions interplay of religion, science

Lauren Mogannam

Can science and religion co-exist? Communication freshman Steven Monacelli thinks so.

Students debated the answer at Northwestern’s Secular Humanists for Inquiry and Freethought weekly meeting Sunday. Group members discussed different beliefs and shared opinions about the role of science and religion in today’s society and whether they can exist in harmony.

“Religion and science have to speak the same language,” Monacelli said. “There aren’t different planes of existence. All roads lead to the same path.”

Founded last October, SHIFT offers students who don’t belong to an established religion a forum to share their views, said Harry Noble, the organization’s events coordinator.

“We all noticed independently that there are a ton of religious groups on campus but no skeptic group,” the Weinberg junior said. “So we figured, ‘Why not start one?'”

Angela Potter, SHIFT’s public relations chair, said the group provides an outlet for atheist students to form a community on campus.

“A lot of people who aren’t religious miss the community bonding experience that you can get from being in a church organization or Bible study,” the Bienen sophomore said. “It’s nice to have a group get-together where people can share their views on the world without having an established religion.”

Although SHIFT has not yet been approved as a student group by NU’s Associated Student Government, the organization has been recognized by the Center For Inquiry and has received funding from the philosophy department, Noble said.

Co-President Cassy Byrne said SHIFT’s inception demonstrates to the community that the stereotypes about atheists are not true.

“There’s a sort of terrible stereotype of atheists not being trustworthy,” the Weinberg sophomore said. “It is a way to establish that there are atheists around here that are nice people.”

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