Your Own Choice: CHS students should overcome religious boundaries

Your+Own+Choice%3A+CHS+students+should+overcome+religious+boundaries

Both my peers and my family have always told me to have faith, but as an atheist, that means something entirely different for me. Faith is a powerful tool; it can lead to success just as quickly as it can tear your dreams apart.

Let’s start off with the facts: atheists do not believe in God, they do not believe in heaven or hell and they often champion logic and scientific thought.

To many people, I have been labeled as faithless or nihilistic. To some of my peers, I appear to be in need of saving. In middle school, my eighth grade social studies teacher told me I was going to hell for not believing in God. Of course, he did it under the guise that he was not trying to convert me.

I am not saying this at the expense of Christians. I am not saying this in order to criticize their beliefs or actions. I am merely recounting this memory to highlight the prevailing stereotypes atheists have been marked with time and again.

 

Atheism is not about being faithless or nihilistic. We have our doubts; we question our decisions and sometimes even look to the skies, but ultimately being an atheist is not about denying someone’s or something’s existence. Being an atheist is about putting all your faith into yourself. It’s about introspection. I don’t think nothing is important or that life isn’t worth living. I am not entirely pessimistic and cynical. I merely do not believe in God or a god. I just believe in myself; I just talk to myself.

I may not have the same belief system as those who believe in a higher power, but that does not mean I do not respect them. That does not mean I do not admire the passion or faith these people have. However, that is not who I am.  And that is who I may never be.

Even so, one’s religious inclinations do not determine how one chooses to move on with one’s life. They do not make your choices for you; even if you believe there’s a voice telling you to do something, the choice is still ultimately yours.

Furthermore, being an atheist or Christian or Muslim or Buddhist does not define your character, your friendships or your place in life. I may be an atheist, but I still have Christian friends. Take my friend Raphael Li; he’s one of the most Christian friends I have. He goes to church every Sunday and youth group every weekend. But my “lack of faith” has never prevented us from being friends. Sometimes, I will even go with him to bible study or youth group, not for the religious reasons or to be converted, but for the experience. Put value and faith into your friendships; they’ll shape you more than anything else ever could.

The views in this column do not necessarily reflect the views of the HiLite staff. Reach Heidi Peng at [email protected]

To see reporter Rapahel Li’s perspective on this issue, click here. To see a graphic perspective on this issue, click here.

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