California Catholic reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and ask students about God, good, and evil.
Interview with Emily, who is studying legal studies and anthropology, in front of the Performing Arts Building at Oxnard College.
- Do you consider yourself religious?
- Emily: No. I’m an atheist. I was raised in a non-denominational Christian church. I think my family is relatively spiritual, but they’re Christmas Christians, honestly, Christmas and Easter. I don’t think I made a decision to be an atheist, I just never believed. It never made sense.
- If someone asked you why you believe there’s no God, what would you say?
- Emily: There wasn’t really a real reason I became an atheist, I’ve just never believed. I studied the Christian religion and it sounds heinous, honestly, if you read it objectively and study the Bible. But most major religions do. They’re just inherently terrible. So I wouldn’t want to be part of that. But then I understand that, Christians especially, they read it in a different light and they understand things differently and that’s why they believe. So I don’t have a reason. I’ve never rationalized why I don’t. It’s just never been a thing.
- Why do you say Christianity sounds heinous?
- Emily: There are thousands of examples, but let’s take the story of Job. The whole premise is that God is torturing somebody who truly loves Him for no reason other than to prove that he still will. And it kind of comes about in this idea that His opposition – your Satan, your Lucifer, your whichever term you decide – challenges Him, is like, “I think if You try him, he won’t still love You.” And then God’s got to show He’s got a bigger d***? He’s like, “Let me just torture this person who loves Me to prove that I can.” I equate it very similarly to beating my dog. I could go home everyday and beat my dog and he’ll still love me. And that doesn’t prove that I’m good or that I’m worthy. So that’s kind of where it comes from, and of course that’s one example. I have half a dozen. I’ve had a lot of these conversations.
- How did you form your morals?
- Emily: Amusingly, I took a course last summer – I’m from Georgia so it’s a very Baptist area – and I had an instructor who literally came to class and she’s like, “I don’t believe you can be a moral person unless you believe in God.” I rationalized it in a way: I’m a truly good person because that’s what you should do, whereas Christians are good because if they’re not, they get punished. So they’re not good genuinely for the aspect of being good. I think I just developed a moral idea of what I wanted to be, or how I wanted to treat people, or how I wanted to be treated, and it goes back to that grade school Golden Rule: treat people how you choose to be treated. And I believe that. I don’t want people to be cruel to me. I don’t want people to treat me poorly. So I treat people with my best understanding of respect.
- Remembering what you said about treating others as you would want to be treated, what do you think about abortion?
- Emily: I am pro-abortion. I am 100% pro-abortion. My best answer for the universal – regardless of what I would do in that situation – is if something is 100% dependent on me, I get to make that decision. That’s on me. You have people rationalize it, “Well, elderly are dependent,” or “Babies are dependent,” but they’re not dependent on one person. Infants are abandoned all the time, so they’re not dependent on one person. I’m not like, abort them six days before they’re due kind of thing, because that would be asinine. I’ve noticed a handful of political reaches that have gone that far and though I understand why, I’m not really about that. But we have that early window where that fetus is 100% dependent. I think if that’s the case, it’s up to the person who has got to make that decision. And I’m all about it.
- What if you were the only person around when a toddler falls in a pool. Isn’t it 100% dependent on you, too?
- Emily: It’s not hundred percent dependent on you. It’s dependent on another person. It doesn’t necessarily have to be you. But if you’re there and you’ve been left responsible for somebody else’s child, that’s different. I mean that’s a child. Once you’ve assumed responsibility for a human being – you made that choice. That is now your responsibility to the social collection collective to make sure that child becomes a human, an actual adult, grows to be a reasonable person, and joins the social collective. When it’s the cells, and debate whether or not people think it’s alive, it’s a cluster of cells that’s dependent on you. So you need to make the decision for yourself. You’re not making a decision for the creature or for the fetus or the being. You’re making a decision for yourself. That’s where I think I differ. Because I don’t think the first trimester fetus is a real thing, regardless of the heartbeat or brain function or fingernails. I just don’t believe that.
- Do you believe in an afterlife?
- Emily: I’d love to believe that’s true. I don’t actually, but I choose to because I have a lot of animals and I choose to believe that they’re at a party in the sky and my dog’s waiting for me. I lost a pet last night too, which breaks my heart. She was a bug, so I don’t know why I was surprised, a praying mantis. They only live a year, but it was sad, so part of me hopes that there is a spirit, but I don’t actually believe it.
- How do you think the world came to be?
- Emily: I don’t have an answer for that. I’d like to believe in evolution. I mean, I do believe in evolution. We have proof of evolution with the flu. But there has to be some sort of weird thing that happened because we’ve never seen life like this sprouting up other places. I’m sure it’s out there – we understand there are thousands of galaxies and there has to be something else similar to this. But it is odd. I don’t have a good answer for you.