California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Mariam, who is studying business administration, in the Pasadena City College Quad on August 28, 2019.
Mary Rose/ California Catholic Daily: Do you consider yourself religious?
Mariam: No. I’m between agnostic and atheist. I’m between the two labels, the point being I’m not religious.
Is your family religious?
Mariam: My mom calls herself Catholic. My dad is a little more weird on that. He would be somewhat Catholic, but also Buddhist. In my house there’s a lot of Ganesh, Shiva, Vishnu, but there’s also Jesus Christ all over the place. So my house is a mess. I wasn’t ever raised with “you have to be Catholic,” but I did go to church. It was pretty regular in the beginning and then slowly, “oh, you’re old enough to make your decision if you want to go or not.” My mom would always say, “I’m going to go, you can come with me if you want.” We made our decision that way. It wasn’t ever forced on us. I think I was baptized. I never did my first communion.
If someone asked you where the world came from and how we got here, what would you say?
Mariam: I would just point to science. The Big Bang does it for me. We can’t measure before the Big Bang, that’s my understanding. Especially when it comes to things like time, we don’t know how to measure before. When it comes to science, yeah, I guess there was nothing before the Big Bang.
In the video above, Mariam explains that the reason she is pro-abortion is because the fetus, while being a human life, is not an independent life form and therefore does not have human rights.
Some people argue that the eternal order we discover in things like geometry, the Pythagorean theorem for example, is a sign of an eternal intelligence. What do you think?
Mariam: If you look at history, it just makes sense that humans want an answer to everything. We feel lost. All we ever know as humans is being alive, so not being alive is unimaginable and so there has to be something. Whatever different civilizations, whatever different groups have thought was the answer to the question, they made their religion, they made their God or gods.
No one religion can be correct because there’s just so many of them. If one is correct, everyone else is wrong. The idea that there is divine power, is just reassurance. Anything I can’t control, it’s in someone else’s control. Like, okay, I can trust that he or she or it is looking for my best interest or I can trust in them. I can’t control it so someone else does. I don’t know the answer but someone else knows the answer. That’s why I don’t necessarily bash anyone who is religious because I think it can be really beautiful. Especially, if someone passes away, no matter what the circumstances are of how someone passed, I can totally see how reassuring and how nice it must feel to think they’re okay. They’re in a better place. They’re not suffering anymore. It’s better there. So I don’t knock it.
Why do you think humans wonder?
Mariam: I think that’s one of the biggest questions in philosophy. Not just what are we or why are we here, but why do we ask questions. Because we ask so many questions, we have all of schooling, all of academia. Everything comes from that. I wouldn’t know why we question but I’m glad we do. I think it’s that hunger for knowledge that leads to different routes, whether it be hardcore science or religion or or spirituality or any of it. They intersect, too. There’s not hard lines in between. Someone can be a scientist or a researcher and be religious.
How did you form your moral code?
Mariam: Parents are a huge thing. School. Friends. My environment growing up. One thing my dad would always tell me, it might not necessarily be moral code, but it guides me, is, “you don’t have to make someone else’s mistakes to learn from them.” If I see someone, they did something, and it turned out bad, I don’t have to go through it to learn from it. But for the most part it’s a lot of empathy. Whether you live someone else’s experiences or not, you can try to see it through their perspective. I try to pick the best out of everyone I see. If you grew up in a conservative family and you grew up, for example, homophobic, but you see and you grow, that was initially in you, being homophobic, but you can unlearn it.
What do you think about abortion?
Mariam: My standpoint is, if someone doesn’t want to have an abortion don’t have an abortion. But if someone wants to have an abortion, they should have an abortion. A big part of the ideals of the United States is freedom. We know for sure that the woman is an independent life form. Some laws have been passed where abortion’s banned after 6 weeks.
At 6 weeks the consensus is that it’s not an independent life form, so we are putting the rights of a life-form that is dependent on an independent life form over the woman’s rights. That’s where I’m like, no, that’s not balanced in any way. She should make the decision on her life, especially when you go into situations where it’s threatening the mother’s life. If it’s some of the horrendous situations where it’s rape or incest or any of those, as far as I’ve seen of statistics, most people agree yeah abortion’s fine.
California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.
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