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Honorable mention — College essay contest: Allison Burks

Imaginary friends

Allison Burks

By Allison Burks

“For the love of God,” I mumbled aloud as I stared vacuously into the back of a Chevrolet Cruze.

“The light has been green for 15 minutes, and I swear to God if I miss . . .”

“Oh my God. Are you serious?!”

“Jesus Christ. Go to hell!”

It was then, sedentary and furious at the intersection of Metrowest and Kirkman, when I realized it: I love religious swear words.

Being forced to sit in church wasn’t always a merciless punishment growing up, but most of the time it was. One can only count the jagged corners of a stained-glass window so many times before plunging into catalepsy after all, and boy, was I righteous at it. I’m not sure what happened to me. People always ask me that in a special voice, as if some catastrophic incident must be to blame for me being such an ill-mannered, “morally bankrupt” atheist (I was called that once), and I just don’t know. Truth be told, I’m an atheist simply because I can’t imagine being any other way.

I’ve always had a knack for science. I don’t remember exactly when I learned that the bible estimated Earth to only be around 6,000 years old, but it was sometime after I took basic biology in junior high and learned that some of the world’s most brilliant minds had dated rocks back nearly 4.5 billion years. Science has an intricately polished series of methods to find out what’s real and what isn’t and frankly should be the most refreshing way of keeping us all from lying to ourselves, especially since religion doesn’t have a method to weed out what’s untrue. Religion only has power, revelation, brainwashing and dogma as its methods and no way of proving its claims false, which is why there are thousands of religions all making opposing declarations about the universe. Religion is too confusing, contradictory and scientifically ambiguous for me to reconcile.


I’m an atheist because there is no good reason to believe otherwise. Gods are supposed to be mystical and fundamentally unlike human beings or anything else on Earth, yet in some cultures, the gods are nearly indistinguishable from human beings. If certain gods share so many features with humans, then, I question whether they were created by humans as products of our narcissism and not of the world’s theoretical holiness. Gods are also supposed to be a source of morality and represent a set of laws that mortals are to follow if we don’t wish to suffer on Earth or in the afterlife, but realistically, many atrocities have and continue to be executed in the name of religion. In many cases, the behaviors are downright illegal, running the field from deception and robbery to kidnapping and murder.

I’m an atheist because there is evil in the world and faith is unpredictable. It is a question that has stumped believers and non-believers alike for thousands of years: If God is truly good and has mortality’s best interests in mind, why is there suffering on Earth? This indifference and lack of action against evil makes the existence of God implausible to me, particularly because God must, by default, be insensitive to misery despite being labeled a loving power by its followers.

I’m an atheist because I do not put blind faith in something so capable that does not help me in my time of need.

I’m an atheist because I refuse to stand in front of a moving bus with nothing but confidence to keep it from hitting me.

I’m an atheist because I love religious swear words.

Allison, 24, is from Orlando, Fla., and attends the University of Central Florida, where she is majoring in clinical psychology. “I spent 2 years on the Deliberative Forums committee as my school’s lead moderator, conducting public forums for the Kettering Foundation, such as mass shootings in society, medical marijuana and abortion,” she writes.