Honorable mention — Persons of color essay contest: Nolan Mangal
Rejection of religion and presupposed moral notions
By Nolan Mangal
Removing myself from the generational trap of religious beliefs allows me to focus on living my life to its newly blossoming potential without fear of divine retribution for slight transgressions against an omnipotent being who perpetually transgresses against us. Not only are the pleasures of life more freely enjoyed, having become sweeter with the bitterness of guilt and trepidation since removed, but the umbrella of humanitarian efforts has been opened wider as such “unnatural” pursuits, such as artificial intelligence and genetically modified organisms, can be more fully appreciated and explored.
The catalyst for my departure from religion lies within the origin of the bible itself. In the advent of the popularization of the Christian religion, men who bore no connection to the creation of Christianity or the teachings of Jesus exercised their power and continued to do so over time to selectively control which books made it into the canonical bible, based on personal and arbitrary beliefs. In addition to this censorship, the Old Testament notion that God intelligently designed our species along with all animals about 6,000 years ago has been disproven beyond any reasonable doubt. Not only have anatomically modern humans existed for about 200,000 years, but life itself has existed for several billion. Despite all this, if one chooses to ignore the blatantly false ideas which Abrahamic religions are built upon, opting instead to revel in only the message of Jesus, it would be found that the official disseminators often spread a hateful and exclusive missive, condemning those who commit a sin that the evangelists themselves deem to be more mephitic than another.
Upon realizing the convoluted and often contradictory nature of religious teachings, I understood that no anthropogenic religion could possibly be correct; in the event that there is an omnipotent being responsible for the creation of the universe, there is no logical pathway to be found explaining why it would care about arrogant hairless apes that evolved on and are destroying the life hosting capabilities of a planet in a completely random corner of the universe.
This knowledge, while initially frightening, offers comfort through the fact that there exists no universal ethic — there is no inescapable afterlife waiting to embrace or agonize you. No reasons can be found to discriminate against someone for simply subsisting in a different way than previous experience would indicate to be conventional, and life is consequently more pleasant than when others would be judged for committing different moral transgressions than oneself.
Admittedly, minorities make up a disproportionately small fragment of the areligious constituency, however our place in the community is rarely acknowledged by the greater body of atheists. The common thought that Hispanics and blacks are automatically religious, and often by proxy unable to think for themselves, is antiquated and downplays the independence of many competent individuals. The most effective and necessary method for the secular community to engage people of color is to acknowledge their existence. Then and only then will we truly feel we have received our equal and rightful place in the community.
Nolan, 18, is from San Antonio and attends Baylor University, where he is studying computer science. He would like to get a graduate degree in artificial intelligence. Nolan was a National Merit Scholar Finalist and National AP Scholar.