This I Believe

John - Sterling, Virginia
Entered on January 23, 2008
Age Group: 18 - 30
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I’m agnostic. I have no religion. I don’t believe in any God, karma, or ultimate knowledge. I base my beliefs on experiences, facts, and fact based theories.

From Prekindergarten to Second Grade, I went to Saint Mary’s Catholic School. I went to church on Sunday, said my prayers before bed, and celebrated Christian holidays. Every December my mother reminded me, “You better behave, or Santa won’t bring you any presents.” I didn’t believe in Santa. I knew that my gifts came from family, friends, and my mom and dad, especially the one that said, “From Santa.” I behaved anyways. I didn’t do it because of the fear of not getting any presents; I behaved because it was the right thing to do.

As time went on, I felt the same way about God. To me, God was the same as Santa. Like Santa, God was a fictional character made up to make people behave. In reward for good behavior, God gave us the gift of Heaven. This is what I came to believe at the age of eight. I began to argue with my second grade teacher during science lessons. Whenever she claimed that God did something, I would raise my hand and tell her that was ridiculous. Needless to say, that was the last year I attended Catholic school. From Third Grade on, I have been enrolled in public school. I met people with different religions and ways of life. Science class became more, scientific. Everyone was free to believe whatever they wanted. Finally, things made sense.

I know the world needs religion. Religion brings people together. Most people need to believe in a God, or a kind of spiritual enlightenment, because the thought of being alone in the world is terrifying. Hope keeps them going. If something bad happens, it’s ok because God is watching over us. The thought of going to Heaven or reincarnation reduces people’s fear of death, and they find the thought of going to a “better place” comforting.

For lack of a better word, religion keeps people in check. The desire to go to a “better place” and the fear of eternal damnation is the driving force behind many people’s decisions. This is good, because this causes many people to be good to others and live a healthy life. Religion teaches people to love their neighbor as they love themselves.

I do not need the fear of God to be good. I am human. I am a network of cells, muscles, tissues, and organs, nothing else. I have no “soul”. I will not go to Heaven or comeback in the form of something else. When I die, I will be dead. My cells, muscles, tissues, and organs will stop working. That is all. The only thing I can do is enjoy the life I have and do my best to better the lives of others.