California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Lilliane Martin, who is studying biology, in Rocky Young Park at Pierce College in Woodland Hills on April 17, 2019.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Lilliane: No. I was raised Catholic and then I just kind of fell out of it.

Do you believe in God?

 Lilliane: Not really, no. Well, I say – no.

What does your family think?

 Lilliane: My parents are really the most religious ones and my siblings aren’t really religious anymore because we were kind of forced into it so we all kind of fell out. But most of my family doesn’t really know. I just kind of pretend I’m still religious to keep them happy because I don’t want them to – my mom would be mortified if she found out that I wasn’t religious at all. They don’t really know, but I know my mom and her family would all be super disappointed.

How did you come to the belief that there is no god?

 Lilliane: Growing up I was super hardcore Catholic and I don’t know, just one day was like, you know, it’s all kind of absurd. It’s just kind of weird to me.

A lot of students say there is evidence for the existence of God in the miracles we see every day. What would you say to that evidence?

 Lilliane: Oh God. I don’t know. As far as saying there’s miracles every day, I think honestly it’s just sheer luck and coincidences. I’ve argued with religious people before and it’s impossible to get them to change their mind so I don’t really know.

How do you explain the existence of the earth and the fact that nature all works together?

Lilliane: I don’t know. We were just put here. I don’t know why. I don’t know how. I don’t know. It’s weird. I don’t know how to explain it to someone. It’s honestly so confusing, all of it.

How did you develop your moral code?

Lilliane: God, these questions. From experience and I don’t know. It kind of just happened.

Maybe if I ask about specifics it will help you figure out how you got there. What do you think about abortion?

Lilliane: It’s actually interesting because, when I was younger, my mom basically brainwashed me and I was incredibly pro-life. It was weird. And now I’m the complete opposite. So on abortion, I would say that it should be legal and it it’s just any woman’s right to do it if they want to.

Do you think abortion ends the life of a human being but is permissible, or do you think it doesn’t end the life of a human being?

Lilliane: It depends obviously on when the abortion is performed. If it’s a late-term one, usually it’s an emergency. I don’t really know that much about it, but I don’t think it is killing, honestly. From what I’ve learned in the past about the development of humans, it’s basically just a big clump of cells at the beginning. I don’t see it as killing a human, necessarily.

When you were pro-life why did you think abortion was wrong?

Lilliane: I was under the impression that literally every abortion was late-term, towards the end of the pregnancy, like they were literally murdering babies. I was like, it literally makes no sense to kill a person. Why would anyone be for that? But then when you kind of learn more about it – I guess learning more about it was what really changed it. And then also being like, why should I be the one to tell someone what to do with themselves. I have no right to be intervening in their lives.

What is growing inside a mother early in the pregnancy if it’s not a member of the human species?

Lilliane: To me, literally it’s just a big clump of cells until develops into an actual baby. If you abort a bab- a little clump of cells – as I keep saying – it’s obviously not going to feel anything. I don’t know. It’s difficult when I get into that. I don’t know, honestly.

The Catholic Church teaches that marriage is between one man and one woman. What do you think?

Lilliane: Same thing. When I was little, I was incredibly homophobic. Honestly, it was gross because I was so young and being so hateful towards people I didn’t even know. I would say such disgusting things. I think what really brought me out of that was that I was growing up and I was like, why am I being so hateful? That’s another reason why I am not religious anymore: a lot of people, not everyone obviously, but a lot of people that are there are really hateful. I’m just like, I don’t want to be a part of something that makes me so hateful and gross. I was just like, why should I be judging other people? It literally makes no sense to be judging someone that you don’t know. Then I was completely homophobic, now I’m legit the opposite. Completely the opposite.

Do you know anything about Pope Francis?

Lilliane: What I’ve heard from my mom who’s incredibly religious is that she likes him. My aunt is like a whole other level of religion, she’s like way too into it, she says she doesn’t like him, because he’s too modern or something. She doesn’t like him at all. That’s all I know.

We recognize an intelligence behind the order in architecture and machines. Doesn’t the order in mathematics, for example in the Pythagorean Theorem, point to an eternal intelligence behind it?

Lilliane: You got me there. I don’t know how to argue against that. Honestly, I don’t really know if I believe in a god, really. I don’t know. This has me questioning everything. That’s weird. I don’t know. When I first started falling out of the church, I was like, okay I think there’s a higher being but I don’t think they have any control of what’s happening here on earth. I don’t even know what I believe now honestly. That doesn’t help at all, but I don’t know. Literally I have nothing to say.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Lilliane: I’m in the middle. Everyone, when you’re Catholic, they’re like, yeah you’re going to heaven and then this happens, but I’m like, how do you know if you haven’t died? I don’t know. Yeah, I guess, because I believe in ghosts so there has to be an afterlife if there are ghosts, right? Honestly, I’m so confused about my own beliefs.

California Catholic Daily exclusive by Mary Rose.

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