California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interviews with Brianna, who is studying biology, between the Social Ecology Buildings and with Marilyn, who is studying sociology, outside the Social Science Lab at UC Irvine on March 4, 2020.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Brianna: Not really, cause I don’t practice, but I’m more associated through my family. If I’m home with them, I’ll go to church. But if I’m here at school, I probably won’t go to church. I believe in a higher deity, I believe there’s something out there, but don’t know what it is.
If an atheist asked you why you believe in a higher power, what would you say?
Brianna: There’s just so many things. It’s kind of hard for me to rationalize that there isn’t something out there. Just the beginnings of time and stuff like that. Like the big bang, well, something must have given it the go, right?
If someone asked you who Jesus is, what would you say?
Brianna: My automatic response just from being raised Catholic is that Jesus is the Son of God. But another side of me is like, Jesus was this guy that started this religion, Christianity. So I would probably give him both views.
Why do you wear that medal?
Brianna: In Catholicism, there’s these phases you go through. I went through the one that’s called Confirmation, which is basically, as a young adult, you confirm that you’re of the Catholic faith and basically you’re not going to be associated with another religion or praise other gods. So when I did that, my mom gave me this. So it’s more of a sentimental because my mom gave it to me. But there’s also the implication that I did my Confirmation.
Do you agree with the Catholic Church’s moral teachings, for instance that marriage is only between one man and one woman?
Brianna: I agree with most of them with the exception of like, no man and man should be married, but I think most of them are actually morally in line with myself and also a lot of other religious teachings, like do not kill. I mean, that should be something that everyone agrees with.
What about abortion?
Brianna: I think that’s a little tricky, because I’m like for abortion. I do believe that women should have a say in what happens to their bodies. Then my religion says, no, that’s not right, you’re killing a human. Also, being a biological sciences major, I don’t see it as a human yet. To me it’s this zygote, it’s a clump of cells, but to them that’s life. So it gets a little tricky, but that’s another huge disagreement I have with my faith.
When do you think a human being becomes a person?
Brianna: When it’s born.
Do you distinguish between something being a member of the human species versus something being a person?
Brianna: That’s a good question. I don’t know. Really, I would classify a human being as a person simply because they’re a human being. Once a person is born, they have feelings, they have a heartbeat, they have things already going on. So I would say once a human is born, you’re a person.
Would you say that a human zygote, human embryo, or human fetus is a member of the human species at an early stage and so has to be a person?
Brianna: That’s a good question. I’m not sure how to answer that. I guess it depends on your perception of things. I know science is always changing, too, like the descriptions of things.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Brianna: I want to, I think that’s my thought process on that. It’s nice to think that there’s going to be like a better life after this. Cause I know it’s really hard in this life, but I think there is, because I want to be an optimist.
Do you consider yourself religious?
Marilyn: Partially. I grew up in a Catholic household, but my parents never reinforced it much. They didn’t take us to church, except for once in a while when it was for specific occasions, like a First Communion. I still believe in it, I still pray, but I don’t consider myself a very good Catholic, as in going to church every Sunday or praying every night before eating. I say partially, cause I do believe in everything, but at the same time I’m very skeptical about it.
Do you believe there’s evidence for the existence of God?
Marilyn: I think so. I feel like there are those miracles, when people are not supposed to survive and somehow they do. And then I feel like sometimes my prayers are heard. I don’t know if there is an existence of God or not, but if there is I like the idea of there being someone or something you could talk to when you’re not sure.
Do you agree that marriage can only be between a man and a woman?
Marilyn: I don’t agree with it. I think because I’m a part of this generation, it’s a little bit different. My parents did always have a little stereotype, like when they would ask me if I had a boyfriend, they’d be like, well as long as it’s not a girl. They say things like that. But to be honest, my parents are very okay with people who are in the LGBTQ community and so am I. I believe anyone should love whoever they want to love. It’s just a person. It’s true what they say, that love is love, because we can’t stop ourselves from feeling feelings towards someone.That’s another question, how come God doesn’t love people who love the same gender or who feel like they’re not a woman and decide to be a man? I feel like God still loves them, regardless of that. I just feel like sometimes religious preachers are very strict and try to enforce all these things. I feel like if God really is real, then He wouldn’t be punishing us for loving someone the same gender.
What if an adult loves a young child?
Marilyn: There’s so many different types of philias now, like pedophilia, which I honestly think is wrong, especially pedophiles who are interested in younger children. I don’t think necessarily it’s right, that’s why it’s so confusing – we contradict ourselves, because we say that love is love, but then we’re like, no, you can’t love a child, because it’s wrong.
What do you think about abortion?
Marilyn: I’ve always been pro-choice, just because I have seen statistics of how children do going into the foster system or having parents that never really wanted them in the first place. That takes a huge effect on the child and their psychological development since the very beginning. I listen to a lot of podcasts about criminals and they talk about their history and a lot of these criminals that I’ve heard are usually rejected by their parents, specifically by their mothers. Even though they’re like, just put them in an adoption system, a lot of kids don’t ever get out of the foster system and they stay there for years and some of them even run away or some of them are just kicked out because they turn eighteen. So that’s why I decided that’s why I’m pro-choice rather than against it because I a thousand times prefer that a person isn’t brought into the world, pushed into a life that they have no choice to live now.
Children in the foster care system are wanted children – their parents chose not to abort them and chose not to place them for adoption and raised them until the government took them away. If a pregnant woman decides to place her baby for adoption, her baby will be adopted at birth and never enter the foster care system.
Marilyn: It’s a very difficult, such a controversial thing. I feel like regardless I’d still be pro-choice just because it is part of our human right here in the United States that we have the right to do as we please with our body as long as we’re not hurting anybody else. But then they say that you’re hurting the child. I’ve always thought that if I ever came to the point where for some reason I am pregnant at this time of my life, I would abort just because I feel that I’m not prepared to bring a child into life, especially not right now. I’m mid my college experience. I don’t have a secure job that would bring money for a child. No matter how much I’d want to keep it, keep them. I feel like it’d be very difficult for me to have a good life.
If you found out tomorrow that you were pregnant, would you consider placing your baby with one of the two million families in the U.S. who are waiting to adopt?
Marilyn: I feel like once I give birth to a child, it’s different. I’ve seen this a lot where parents are like, I actually want to keep them. Because now it’s a real – it’s completely formed. You’ve already spent so much time with that being and it’s already grown completely. A lot of abortions start when the baby isn’t fully developed at all. There are obviously the ones where they have to rip out the little baby and stuff, but a lot of them it’s just pills and then it just really kind of filters it out of your body. I guess once you spend so much time with something in you and then just seeing it come out, I feel like it’d be so different. I’d be like, I want to keep it, I don’t care. But since that’s not happening right now, since I automatically think from the beginning that I would just want it out, then obviously I don’t think about adoption.
Do you believe in an afterlife?
Marilyn: I want to say yes because I’m hopeful that we will go somewhere after, but then again, I’m scared. I want to say no, because if there’s an afterlife, that means there might be hell. If there’s a heaven, then that means there’s a hell. Because if you don’t go to heaven, where else do you go? It’s scary, but I hope there’s an afterlife, just something else to live for after you’re dead.
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