Fourth place — College essay contest: Kaitlyn Hunt
What would I lose? My morality, focus, peace
RF awarded Kaitlyn $2,000.
By Kaitlyn Hunt
When I told my conservative, Christian mother that I was an atheist, she asked me, “Why can’t you just choose to believe? What have you got to lose?”
I would lose my sense of morality if I chose to model my behavior after what is written in the bible. I would lose my focus on creating a healthier and more sustainable Earth for those who live after me, because by believing I would concede that everything that is happening to our planet is God’s will. I would lose my craving to find answers to questions about the universe because they all could be found in the bible. I would lose my peace and acceptance about death because I would believe that as a lesbian, I would go to hell and be tortured for eternity. I would lose my drive to better humanity because I would focus on securing our afterlives and not this existence.
As a sheltered, home-schooled, indoctrinated Christian child, I used to believe that my purpose on Earth was to bring other people to Jesus to save them from being sent to hell. I was told every single day that people of different religions, different sexual orientations and other unrepentant sinners were going to spend eternity in hell. My siblings and I were forced to read books and listen to sermons that detailed the torture and unrelenting pain that was inflicted on those who did not follow Christ and his laws that are laid out in the bible. Because of my upbringing, my parents were shocked and horrified when I came out as gay. My mother cried for me because she believed that when she and I both die we will end up in different places. Instead of caring that I was living a happy, fulfilling, purposeful life with my wife, my family only focuses on what they presume to be my torturous eternity after I die.
In my life, there are many things that I want to accomplish, but all my ambitions have one goal: to make a difference in the well-being of the people who will be on Earth after I die. We all only have a short number of years in comparison to the billions of years of the universe. Our lives are a mere speck on the timeline of existence. The human lifespan is so mathematically insignificant compared to the age of the universe that it can be written off logically as zero.
Those who believe in an afterlife are comparing the human lifespan to eternity. To them, this life feels insignificant, whereas their afterlife would be an infinite existence in a perfect world. Even though both atheists and theists believe that their lives are short, they have different motives for living. Theists, including my family, have their eyes on the afterlife, using their earthly lives simply to set up spending eternity with their god in Heaven.
However, we nontheists think that because there is only nonexistence before and after our lives, we should treat each day as a gift and make the most of every day.
I care about my short life. I care about the fleeting lives of the people around me. I care about the brief lives of my children, grandchildren and others who will be alive after me. Because it is my firm belief that we only have roughly 100 years to come into the world and make a difference, I look forward to the next 75 years of my life. I know that I will spend every day enjoying it with the woman I love and striving to contribute at least one small part to preserve the future of those who will live after me. When my mother asked me what I would lose if I believed in Christianity, even solely for the purpose of securing a place in heaven, I answered, “I would lose my purpose in life.”
Kaitlyn, 24, is from Myrtle Beach, S.C., and attends Coastal Carolina University where she is studying chemistry and mathematics. She and her wife Kaylyn live in South Carolina. Kaitlyn was home-schooled from kindergarten through high school by a conservative Southern Baptist Christian family. After getting an associate’s degree at community college, she attended Liberty University for one year. “It is during that time when I became an atheist,” she writes.