California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview on December 7, 2021 with Taylor, a freshman at Ventura College, outside the library and learning resource center.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Taylor: Yeah. For me, it means to be the best person that I can be and if I’m ever feeling down or if I have any worries I just reflect on what I’ve been taught and what I learned from religion, Christianity specifically. My grandma is religious, my mom isn’t, and I am.
Do you go to church?
Taylor: I used to, but because of Covid it’s harder, but I do try to watch online services.
Do you think there’s evidence for the existence of God?
Taylor: Not really, to be honest.
Do you ever try to share your faith with others?
Taylor: Yeah, kind of. My best friend is Catholic so the only time we ever talk about religion is how our views differ. But we rarely talk about it. In my last relationship, he didn’t believe in anything, and so he would ask me questions about what it meant. I would answer because I feel like Christianity and a lot of religion has a really negative appeal and a negative outlook or viewpoint and I just try to explain that not all of it is like that and not everyone is like that. That’s what I do if I ever explain it to anyone but I usually don’t talk about it with anyone.
How do you explain the existence of evil, if you believe there is a good God?
Taylor: I believe that there’s heaven and that’s something to look forward to and that it’s basically just all good and all light and you have to go through some struggles so you can really appreciate what you have. That’s also a lesson that people have on earth, that they need to learn from mistakes and be taught a lesson to be able to be more enlightened and grow. Evil is there to juxtapose, to be able to compare to good stuff.
What do you believe about the afterlife?
Taylor: I know that there’s the concept of hell and I know that there is evil in the world. I feel like there’s a blatant difference between what is truly evil and then people that just happen to do bad sometimes and make a couple mistakes and whatever. It’s supposed to be a thing that if you don’t believe in Jesus or God at all, you end up in hell. I don’t personally believe that. I feel like if someone’s Buddhist or not Christian, I don’t think that they’re automatically going to go to hell. I think it looks different for each individual, just like how heaven would look different for each individual.
How do you decide what’s good and what’s evil?
Taylor: It’s the intent behind something. Murder, blatant murder, is obviously evil because there’s a bad intention behind it. You want to hurt someone, you want to make them feel pain, you want to kill that person. If you accidentally hit someone in your car and they die, that’s not necessarily truly evil. It’s a terrible thing that happened and it’s a really bad mistake that you made and you need to move on from, but it’s the intent behind it and how you are as your soul and as your person and what you want to bring into the world.
How would you apply that to something like abortion?
Taylor: I think it’s about intent because how a woman gets pregnant can be a really big factor of whether she should keep the baby or not. If it is in the case of incest or rape or circumstance. If a girl is 15 years old and I know that it’s her responsibility – completely consensual I’m talking now. But when it comes to a child and a baby, you should think about what world you’re bringing your child into and if that’s a good environment for them. You should have that in mind more than you should think about whether you’re going to go to hell or heaven for having an abortion.
What if a woman killed her six-year-old to free the child from a life of suffering. Is that good?
Taylor: I don’t think that’s the same situation. I think that in that instance, she needs to try to find other resources because there are a lot of resources that people can go to nowadays. There are so many women’s shelters and children’s centers and a lot of churches that will take women in that try to escape abuse. People need to take more accountability and realize it’s not a bad thing to say, “Hey, I’m messing up, I need help,” and look around the community or to peers or family and friends for that help.
Doesn’t a pregnant woman have access to all that help as well? Or do you think having an abortion is not killing someone?
Taylor: I think that it’s not the same, because I understand that there’s a heartbeat and everything like that, but I think that it’s really obvious that there’s a difference because of the fact that there are different names for everything. I don’t know all of them, but there’s zygote to fetus to embryo – all of those different things. Those are what are in someone, meaning that it’s that woman’s control over what that being is going to look like and be. Once it’s out of her body, then it’s a completely different story and that person is a baby, an infant. Those distinctions and differences are what makes the problem different or the results different.
You draw the line at birth for when it becomes not okay to kill it?
Taylor: Yeah, but I don’t think it’s okay for someone to have an abortion super late in pregnancy unless it’s medically needed and a necessity. I don’t think that abortion should be used as a form of birth control either, because that’s a taking advantage of a resource. It’s a resource just like putting a baby up for adoption is a resource and it’s not to be abused and done over and over and over and over again.
So what’s wrong with having a late abortion, if it’s not a person until it’s born?
Taylor: Because if that woman were to go into labor, that baby could live. If a woman was 14 weeks pregnant and had to have the baby, it wouldn’t survive. There’s no way that it could survive. It’s impossible. If the woman was 32 weeks pregnant and she had to have the baby, it could still survive and still be a baby and a person. That’s really what the line is, in my opinion: if you just like reached in, grabbed it, and took it out and it could still live, then it shouldn’t be okay or allowed.
Traditionally, Christians believe that marriage can only exist between a man and a woman. Now same-sex marriage is legal. What do you think?
Taylor: I think that’s right. I think that’s awesome. I don’t think that it is only between a man and a woman. I think that if you really love someone and you want to get married and put that label on it, there shouldn’t be anything in your way to be able to do that.
What do you think the Bible says about it?
Taylor: I haven’t read the Bible and I feel like people are really picky and choosy when it comes to what they take out of the Bible. Not that I just don’t believe in it at all or anything like that, because obviously that’s where my faith stems from. I honestly don’t know what it says, but I feel like it’s the same as should people still be able to sell their children. Even though it says in the Bible that you can do that or whatever, obviously you can’t do that or you shouldn’t do that. So what does it know? I think that there are a lot of really great messages that are kind of overpowered and overshadowed by a lot of not so great stories or a lot of ancient stories.
Sociologist Dr. Christian Smith did a good job coining the term “moralistic therapeutic deism” as a result of his research. It seems to accurately describe so many Americans today.
Related to Dr. Smith, he was drawn to the Catholic Church and entered a decade ago. I recommend one of his books, which I’m reading, “How to go from Being a Good Evangelical to a Committed Catholic in Ninety-Five Difficult Steps.” It has somewhat the read of a sociologist, but that is his profession.
May all of us seek the one living and true God (Who is seeking us) and not a religion that allows us feelings and actions of supposed moral superiority from a vague Therapist somewhere in the cosmos, who makes moral demands only of others, but not of us. May the Lord bless Taylor and may she come to know her identity as a beloved daughter of God.
Some stoney ground. But soil isn’t barren like so many others of her generations
if it feels good ….. believe it.
“Jesus is a religious figure you can look to to find comfort”
Kinda like a potted plant.