Published by the Freedom From Religion Foundation, Inc. FFRF.org

Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Ares Zhang

Vol. 38 No. 07 September 2021
Ares Zhang                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                               

Duality

By Ares Zhang

To understand why the obstruction of science by religion is so significant in our modern age, we must first understand the religious context in how this type of thinking came to be. Religion was founded in a time where highly regarded storytellers and rather primitive social and scientific advancements were still ongoing. As the age progressed and hunter-gatherers slowly started living in towns and cities, history first saw the onset of pharaohs and kings; an unfortunate result of archaic beliefs in authoritarianism and religious rituals and tales.

I have a peculiarly depressing, yet realistic, view of humanity. Although we are born with much innate good, humans are also born with the desire to take control of others. This power dynamic, along with a blind following of religion, has resulted in countless cases of the manipulation of religion not as a belief, but as a tool, meant to be used by the upper echelons of society and the Church. In a way, science is the opposite. Defined by painstaking hypotheses rooted in fact, there is no judgment or variance in Newton’s Law or the periodic table. While religious leaders still struggle with uniting their respective followers over modern issues incompatible with the archaic beliefs of old, such as attempts to merge religion and evolution, science is universal throughout, with institutions of science across the world able to collaborate on the same theories.

The debate over Jesus’ existence or the proper way to interpret the Quran continues, but the works of Galileo and Einstein live on because science is rooted in recorded results and evidence, not stories and speculations. However, I have a much stronger reason for believing in science than a simple analysis of humanity’s gravitation toward godlike figures or mythological aspects. I believe that humanity’s ambiguous interpretation of religion can effectively be reduced to a self-reflection of ethics and moral integrity. Everything that we are innately born with — desire to adapt, learn and grow — is already natural to humans without necessitating a religion to insert an omniscient being or their supposed divine rules on how to live life and beyond. I plan to go into science, namely the medical field, because I know that I do not need religious doctrine to justify or explain the prosperity and welfare I hope to bring to humanity in the future.

Ares, 17, is from Camas, Wash., and attends the University of Washington-Tacoma. “I was an outreach director at a nonprofit for remote tutoring called YHIH, a varsity swimmer, a member of the Key Club, National Honor Society, and Green Team,” Ares writes. “I hope to channel my love for teaching and serving others into the health care field, where I plan to major in health care leadership, with the ultimate goal of becoming a physician assistant.”