College essay honorable mention: Questions are the cure for religion: By Jonathan Ortiz

By Jonathan Ortiz

Growing up as a Catholic, I remember how shocked I was when I first learned that there are more than 50,000 sects of Christianity alone, and that there are hundreds of religions. I started asking myself, why is it that I am a Roman Catholic and not a Protestant? Why is it that I am a Christian and not a Muslim? Why is it that I so readily reject Aega, a Greek goddess of war, Corus, a Roman god of the wind, and so many others, but make an exception for mine?

What convinced me, in due time, was something Richard Dawkins once said: “We are all atheists about most of the gods that societies have ever believed in. Some of us just go one god further.” Eventually I took my crucifix off for the last time and ever since then I have been an agnostic atheist.

All religion is — and ever was — is our attempt to explain what we do not understand.

It is only human nature, but just because it is our nature does not mean it is right to conjure up falsehoods. When I encounter theists who ask me about what happens after death, or how the universe began, it is this point that I raise: We may not understand something now, and perhaps we never will, but that does not exclude a natural explanation, and if our past is any indication, things we think to be unexplainable — supernatural — always end up with natural explanations.

There is another important argument that I think many theists do not often encounter, and it is that they almost always have the same religion as their parents. Humans are not born with a belief in God: They must learn it, and they do so from their parents, so if you were born to different parents you would believe different things. I ask them: Would you be a Christian if you were born in 3,000 B.C. in the time of the Egyptians? If you would not be one back then, why should you be one today? I asked myself this very same question, and I’m freer and happier today because of it.

Jonathan, 18, was born in Birkenfeld, Germany, and spent most of his life in that country. He attends the University of Florida.

Freedom From Religion Foundation