California Catholic Daily reporter, Mary Rose, visits a California college each week and asks students about God, good, and evil. Interview with Claudia, who is studying linguistics, outside Center Hall at UC San Diego on November 19, 2019.

Do you consider yourself religious?

Claudia: No. My family is Catholic but I don’t really believe in praying to nothing for things to get better. I believe in action. That’s kind of why I’m not religious. I tried it out. There’s Intervarsity on campus and I tried it out for like two months, but I didn’t really see the point in it. I even went to the Catalina Islands with them for this retreat. Because we’re singing the songs every day, the songs got stuck in my head, but then afterward I didn’t really feel any fulfillment of oh, I found is higher power or anything. I haven’t really tried religion. I would go to church sometimes because my grandma would make us go, but I’m bisexual so she kind of used any queer person to be like a descendant of Satan and stuff. I don’t believe that because I feel like people are generally good people. She thinks that unless you’re religious, you’re not a good person. I don’t think I ever had any belief. I might have, because I believe in evil stuff so I have to believe in the opposite, but there’s so much bad stuff in the world – this probably sounds like everyone else but – how could a God exist when all this bad stuff happens on the daily.

What would you say to this argument: Every time we see writing or architecture or other ordered things, we recognize that someone with intelligence made it. There are some ordered things, though, that are eternal and we only discover, like the Pythagorean Theorem (that the squares on two sides of a right triangle equal the square on the hypotenuse) – doesn’t that show that an eternal being with intelligence made it?

Claudia: I would say that they have a really good theory going. If they could prove that, that would be cool. I know that there’s people who are like, “Oh, I feel the spirit of God.” I guess that’s what I haven’t gotten into. When people are like, “I believe in ghosts,” then people are like, “Oh, have you had an experience?” And some people are like, “No, it’s just something I like to believe in.” I guess that’s kind of the same thing with religion: even though you haven’t had a thing happen, it’s something that you side with and there’s just a lot of stuff that I don’t particularly side with there. My friend was talking about Buddhism, so maybe that, I don’t know. 

Do you think religion can make people hateful?

Claudia: I think people are who they are personality-wise and no matter what kind of thing they believe in, that’s not going to change them, unless it’s for the better. But for people who are just naturally hateful, who – you know there are certain Commandments – don’t follow them. They choose to be choosy about what they believe in, then that’s just them kind of shining through and it’s not really the fault of a religion. Then there’s some people who like to twist the words to fit their own behavior. I don’t really think it’s religions fault, as much as I don’t prefer it. I just think that people sometimes twist it to work in their favor. You know those people who – I’m not really sure what religion, but Muslims I think, they’re the ones who are like, “For God I’ll kill myself,” and stuff. I don’t know if that’s really what’s written in their book because I’ve never read it. But people who – I don’t know why, but this belief is super prevalent in my grandma’s church where every queer person has to basically go to camp to not be gay anymore. I don’t think that’s in the Bible either. I think that’s just people who decided we don’t like gay people all together. Someone preaches that, they all agree, and they’re all in the same place so they think it’s okay. That’s how I think that happens because I’ve met other Christian people who are like f***ing okay with it. I guess it just really depends on your church.

Do you believe in an afterlife?

Claudia: I guess it would help with the existential crisis. Because, if I think about it, I’m like, “Oh f***, that’s really the end? Once I die, there’s nothing else?” That’s f***ing terrifying. I want to believe there is an afterlife, because I do believe in ghosts and stuff. I do believe energy stays here and whatever, but I don’t really know if we’re frolicking through flowers and stuff. I mean that would be kind of nice like after everything. This is what I get to do forever? That’s awesome. 

How do you decide what’s good and what’s bad?

Claudia: I guess it’s more of like, how would I want to be treated. Basically avoid making someone feel bad. Sometimes you have to, because you have to say uncomfortable things, but say it in a way that’s kind of like carrying it careful. Whatever you hear is bad and you wouldn’t want to happen, don’t do that kind of stuff. Just don’t do the bad things.

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