Ninth place (tie) — High school essay contest: Isaiah Welch-Novels
Why I believe in agnosticism
FFRF awarded Isaiah $400 for his essay.
By Isaiah Welch-Novels
I respect all religions and the people who practice them. From Christianity to Buddhism, I believe that every human has the right to practice what they believe in as long as they do it peacefully and are respectful of others. However, I prefer to remain agnostic.
Growing up in an African-American household, I was raised having to practice Christianity and having to go to church every Sunday. However, as I grew older, I began to question the principles of Christianity. Who were all these people? Why can’t we do things that other people can? Is there really a heaven and a hell? All these questions flooded my mind, and I began to question my faith. I soon stopped going to church and began thinking for myself.
Being bound to a religion from a young age teaches you a narrow-minded way of living that is based solely on tradition. I believe that in order to live life to the fullest, you must do things that may not be in line with what is taught in religion and adapt to a more liberal worldview. Allowing oneself to see the world for what it is rather than as what we’re told is crucial for the development of the mind. Before accepting myself to be agnostic, I saw things like romantic/sexual relationships and drugs as bad for people, especially teens. However, as a freethinker, I have discovered that these things are crucial for the development of humankind. Homosexuality, gender dysphoria and mental illness are examples of what tradition teaches you to criticize. Still, these are normal occurrences, and we need to be more accepting of them, considering they cannot be controlled.
In a society where there is no religion or tradition, there would be less hate. People would be more accepting of one another and open to ideas. This is the ideal world, and I think that can be achieved if we digress from religion.
Isaiah, 18, is from Rochester, N.Y., and will be attending the University of New Haven, where he plans to major in music and sound engineering. He works at the Rochester Regional Healthcare System. His hobbies include music performance and production, gaming and hiking.