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Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Ben Keane

God Is Not a Problem Solver

By Ben Keane

“Trust God.” “God works in mysterious ways.” “God has a plan for everything.”

Whether it’s from a devout Catholic, a born-again Christian, or a straight-laced Mormon, I hear these mantras nearly every day at my high school. Even though I’ve barely reached adulthood,

Ben Keane

I’ve already come to realize that religious dogma is not only foolish, but it is also dangerous.

Overreliance on God hampers the critical thinking that is necessary to navigate our modern world.

The Church of Scientology’s rejection of psychiatry exemplifies the problem of relying on God over humankind’s efforts. Mental illness has plagued humanity since the dawn of time.

In the last 50 years, scientists have developed increasingly sophisticated drugs to combat mental illness. Scientologists, however, believe that all psychiatry and its related pharmaceuticals have no place in our world. Instead, they argue we should look to God to solve our perceived mental illnesses. Despite the tremendous advances in rigorous psychiatry over the past several decades, Scientologists blindly persist in rejecting psychiatry. Relying on human ingenuity and critical thinking, psychiatrists have succeeded in attacking the predicament of mental illness at its root, continually seeking the most effective ways to address mental illness rather than simply having faith that a higher power will solve the problem.

Another prime example of the pernicious effects of overly dogmatic thinking is the Catholic view of birth control. Buoyed by Pope Paul VI and his 1968 Humunae Vitae, devout Catholics reject birth control because they believe it interrupts the generative process. Critically thinking humans, on the other hand, recognize that birth control is an enormously helpful tool with many benefits that allows for smart and responsible family planning, not to mention prevention of STDs. Relying on ourselves rather than a God allows us to find solutions such as birth control to solve our problems.

Not relying on God works wonders in my own life too. When I have a predicament, I break it down in my head, thoroughly analyzing everything that is going on. After I fully understand the situation and all my options, I pick the choice with the most favorable outcome. If I were to just throw my hands up and blindly trust God to fix every problem that pops up in my life, not only would the problems never get solved, but I wouldn’t develop the critical reasoning skill set that is essential in life.

Although religion disavows it, logical thinking is one of the most, if not the most, important skill a person can have. With an emphasis on God instead of critical thinking, one can be easily fooled and manipulated. This in turn can lead to ignorance, if not outright dangerous outcomes, such as the rejection of psychiatry and birth control.

So trust God? I don’t think so.

Ben, 18, is from Poway, Calif., and will attend Stanford University, with a goal of majoring in statistics. He is an Eagle Scout who has been an avid hiker for much of his life. Ben also has a passion for music, including playing the saxophone, piano, and bass guitar in jazz and rock settings. He also started a seven-piece jazz band two years ago.