California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Alan, who is studying mechanical engineering, in the Caroline Page Garden at Monterey Peninsula College on January 28, 2020.

Do you consider yourself religious? 

Alan: Yes and no. Religion is being and also not being. Christianity or Buddhism or any of that stuff is only representations of life and let’s say the Tao is life. Everything, even information, can be transmuted into other ideas. I’m actually a Catholic. I was baptized as a Catholic. I never had faith. Well, my parents never forced the faith onto me. I went to a Christian high school so I could figure that stuff out and get that kind of idea. I used to be in a chapel team playing guitar. I kind of walked away from that. 

Are you just looking into the Tao or do you believe it?

Alan: Let’s say I believe that. I guess I’m in tune with the world then. Kind of like you sitting here, the world, by me searching for it, is giving me answers. This is a really recent thing, everything is just clicking basically. 

Do you believe there’s objective right and wrong?

Alan: I believe that right and wrong is just whatever is morally acceptable in society. It doesn’t matter. It’s all about your opinion and how you would like it.  

What about a school shooting? Do you think it’s OK because it’s the shooter’s opinion?

Alan: No, I don’t think so. But maybe sometimes things have to happen, like the Bubonic plague. Yeah, that is very bad. Hundreds and millions of people died. But because of that, the Westerners have a better immune system. And when they went to colonize America, when they brought their stronger immune system, they sadly killed off all the Native Americans because they didn’t have as strong an immune system. But now we are the children or the byproducts of that, and because of that, now we have a better immune system. We are more educated and maybe more colonized because of it. So maybe in that current present, all that pain and suffering isn’t really worth it. But in the larger picture, it might be.

Are you putting natural disasters and diseases on the same plane with deliberately manmade destruction? 

Alan: I think I think bacteria has a consciousness. I think that all animals have consciousness and they might be in tune with something else, something greater than you and me, maybe than what our representations of God are. 

How did you come to search for the Tao?

Alan: My dad’s an electrician and so he goes to random people’s houses to put in lights or light fixtures. And there’s this one guy, named Greg, and I started talking to him and he’s been leading me in this path. This morning, I actually talked to him. I have class and then I go there. I just came back. 

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Alan: Yeah, I guess I do. Compound interest of time. Let’s say you got this interview. You can post that online and now let’s say I get shot. I’m dead. But you still got all my memories and all my thoughts. And technically, whatever is left, that is my: after my life. It’s what everyone else thinks about you, or whatever your thoughts and ideas were. I could also say, let’s say mushrooms and fungus, because that’s been on Earth for 250 million years. What if that is the afterlife and we just turn back into fungus and that is just consciousness? I’m just putting hypotheticals because that’s the only thing I can really do while talking.

Do you have a theory about where the world came from?

Alan: I guess it just came into existence or it’s not even here. It’s like a duality. What we search for, we find. Like my thoughts are just coming out piece by piece. So now is gone. Now is gone. So there’s just these little parts that make a whole, see?

Does that then mean that material things don’t exist?

Alan: They do exist because they exist through compound time. Just like how this phone 10 years ago was a flip phone. And then 10 years before that was a phone that was connected to the wall. The compound interest of time makes objects. I guess. I don’t know. But it’s a really interesting concept. Or all objects are just light producing things.

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