California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Oliver, who is studying communications, outside the bookstore at Skyline College in San Bruno on October 23, 2019.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Oliver: Yes. I guess not as strictly as other people probably. I think religion for me has always been really personal and it’s really been something that I do in private. People know I’m Catholic. I say I’m Catholic. I go to church when I can, but it’s not strictly ingrained into my regimen. It’s not in my schedule. It’s not a regular thing for me, but I definitely do think that my way of worshipping God or practicing my Catholicism is different than others. I feel like me praying or me just having moments where I meditate or just have conversations with, I guess, a higher power is the equivalent of going to church sometimes.
Why do you say you’re Catholic if you practice it the way you do?
Oliver: I was raised Catholic by my family and there’s a lot of things of the Catholic religion that I do enjoy. I had the First Communion, I had the Confirmation, I had the Baptism, I had all of that. I’ve seen other religions and I’ve explored other religions and I’ve never really wanted to dive into something that wasn’t Catholicism. So even if it’s not the orthodox or traditional practice of Catholicism, I still consider myself to be Catholic. I guess another word could be agnostic, but I just feel like if I had to define myself as one of the main religions, it would always be Catholicism.
Do you believe in God?
Oliver: I do believe in God. I think that that’s a really abstract idea or entity. I know that other people might say “the universe” or they’ll say some other name or they’ll just say they’re not religious and they don’t believe in anything, but I do think that there is a higher power. I use that general term because I have friends of different religions, none of us really are the same, so I would use higher power and that’s just something I do by habit almost.
If an atheist asked you why you believe in God what would you say?
Oliver: Growing up obviously there was the idea of “oh, he must be real because my family is telling me they’re real.” I think now it’s just sort of a way of comfort. I don’t want to say I’m used to it because I feel like that takes away its meaning. I do think that maybe not orchestrating our lives or any of that, but I do think that we are all here for a reason and I think that that reason is decided by something, whether you think it’s yourself or something else. I just like to believe in God because it helps me sleep at night, I guess.
Do you think there’s any evidence for the existence of God?
Oliver: Not really, because, even though I am religious, I’m a little bit more skeptical when it comes to the things like “oh, miracles” or when you see the dramatic religious ceremonies where people faint. It’s just to each their own. I don’t think I can find any concrete evidence. I think it’s just something I choose to believe in. Of course it’s something that can be challenged and I don’t mind it being challenged because everyone has a different perspective on it and I’m okay with that. As long as they’re respectful of mine, then I can be respectful of theirs.
How do you decide what’s right and wrong?
Oliver: While I’m religious, I’m not going to base my life around my beliefs in terms of religion. I’m not going to strictly follow the Bible. I’m not going to be like, “oh, because the Bible says gay marriage is wrong, I can’t accept that either. I have to be against that.” I think I base my morals more on a societal view of them and more of what we as a society have determined as right or wrong. Even then, there’s still some conflicts where it’s like, “What do I value as a person? Religion aside, and what other people are saying saying side, what do I value and what do I look for?”
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Oliver: I think I’d like to just because everyone’s into the idea of Heaven or Hell or ghosts. I enjoy thinking that that could be real but I am a little skeptical of it all. I think when our time comes to end, it ends. I don’t think we go anywhere beyond to that.
If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?
Oliver: Who I think Jesus is, is ourselves really. I don’t feel like we can name Jesus as being the sort of higher power or being God. I think that Jesus is someone who we have to figure out ourselves. If you don’t want to name them by Jesus, then they don’t have to be named Jesus. Everyone has a different interpretation. It could be your conscience or some people say the little angel on my shoulder, the little devil. It’s just the inner voice within you that provides you with comfort when you’re struggling and you have nowhere to go.
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