Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Shamsul Haque 

Shamsul Haque

Facts over fear

By Shamsul Haque 

Humans discriminate, Covid-19 does not. Regardless of religion, race or skin color, viruses affect all human beings. At a time when millions of people were dying from Covid-19, the answers were not found in blind faith to a higher being, but rather by trusting science. Religion is driven by fear. Fear of the unknown. Science is driven by facts. Facts which are well-known.

For centuries, civilizations have turned to religion to justify their actions and unexplained phenomena. But when it comes to solutions to real-world issues, only science has been proven to provide us protection. In fact, religion proved to be a barrier to a swifter recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic.

If humans trusted facts over faith, thousands of lives could have been saved. Unfortunately, people were determined to congregate in groups despite scientific evidence indicating gatherings would only exacerbate the spread. Individuals held an illogical belief that they were protected by their faith.

At a time when thousands were dying daily in New York, an Orthodox Jew wedding attended by thousands formed a super spreader event only making things exponentially worse. Greek churches continued to perform services in which worshippers sipped from the same cup believing they were protected from the virus.

Most recently, in India, worshippers believed that they could ward off Covid-19 by smearing cow dung on themselves. Not only is this not effective, but the practice also increases the risks of other diseases, like black fungus.

Furthermore, despite all evidence proving the effectiveness of vaccines against the virus, many worshippers refuse vaccinations based on falsehoods. Many renounce vaccines believing that the vaccines are developed from aborted fetuses, contain pig gelatin or that vaccines decrease fertility. To overcome this resistance, religious leaders often need to justify to their followers that the need to vaccinate is for the greater good in protecting life. Ultimately, everything comes down to science when trying to determine the moral thing to do. If everyone put their trust in science rather than faith, then Covid-19 would not have spread to where it is today and vaccine hesitancy would not exist, leading to the extinction of the virus altogether.

Shamsul, 17, is from Springfield, Va., and attends the University of Virginia. “Ever since I was young, I have been interested in science and the intricacies of our surroundings,” Shamsul writes. “In high school, I tutored peers for three years and expect to continue tutoring while attending college. I intend to major in engineering then pursue an entrepreneurship in the field to help those less fortunate.”