Atheism and Agnosticism

April 21, 2020

Not all students are religious. Sophomore Ella Chang attributes her atheist beliefs to growing up in a mainly atheist family.

“I would not join organized religion because I prefer to live without having to follow specific rules on how to be a good person,” Ella said. “I cannot believe in a system where people tell you how to live your life based on a book.”

For junior Joanna Doria, who identifies as an atheist, her lack of religious identification stems from questioning her parent’s’ beliefs. Although her parents do not identify with a specific religion, they believe in the existence of God.

“My parents were always saying how God did this, and God did that,” Joanna said. “But coincidences exist. Science and luck can play into everything. Is there really someone out there watching down at us?”

Freshman Kaavya Butaney, who identifies as agnostic and Hindu, believes in some aspects of Hinduism, such as karma and reincarnation. But other parts of the belief system are “confusing,” including the idea that God is in everyone.

“It’s really weird and complicated,” Kaavya said. “I don’t know what to believe if I don’t understand it. If I don’t understand why it’s happening, I won’t believe it. I’m kind of hesitant toward all religions.”

Identifying as atheist can also invite judgement from others. According to Joanna, one common misconception is that atheism is “bad,” and some see it as an incomplete belief system.

“Some people say you don’t have faith, and people shame you for that because they think you need to believe in something,” Joanna said. “But it’s not necessary. Everyone is different, they all have different opinions.”

For freshman Anand Mehta, who identifies as both atheist and Hindu, religious values and atheist beliefs can “coexist.”

“There is ultimately a balance between what we can observe and reasonably conclude and various morals that can be derived from religion,” Anand said. “While I do not believe in the gods that Hinduism preaches, I believe in the values that it teaches. Atheism has taught me to look for the truth and reality in things, instead of simply pointing to a greater deity as the answer.”

Both Joanna and Ella said that religion can be a positive influence in people’s lives.

“Religion is a scapegoat for some people,” Joanna said. “If some bad things are happening, they’ll pray. When you lose all faith in something, it’s nice to have religion as a backup.”

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