Interview 2: “It’s all about morality”
School: Swarthmore College, Junior
ME: Can you briefly describe your religious background, especially how you grew up?
CHRIS: I used to go to Sunday school for a couple of years, and my parents went a little bit to church, too. I really don’t know why we stopped. We were Christian – probably Protestant, not Catholic.
So was religion ever really talked about? You did go to Sunday school.
Sunday school didn’t leave much of an impression on me; the only thing I remember was running around outside. My high school was Episcopalian – we had “chapel” class but we never dug deep into religious topics there. We had some scripture studies, but that’s about it.
Why did you go to a religious high school?
It was one of the better schools in the area. I definitely didn’t pick it for religious reasons.
Let’s talk some more about family, which I think has a great influence on how people are raised on what they end up believing in. Were your parents at all religious?
They said they believe in God, but they’re not actively religious. I’m not sure about my grandparents, because I’m not that close with them. We don’t talk much about God; we just celebrate Christmas and Easter together as a holiday, without focusing at all on the religion behind it.
How do you define religion? When I say “God,” what does that mean to you?
A higher being of some kind, but not of the Christian sort. If I were religious, I would be an agnostic, or probably follow deism – basically believing that a God was there in the beginning, but doesn’t play a role in daily life anymore.
So what is God? Why do we have religion? Is God personified in any way?
I don’t think so. Honestly, my personal belief is that all religions are really similar. They have a common purpose – to define morals for society. But you don’t need religion. I believe I have good morals, but I’m not a religious person. I don’t need religion to be a good person. I think others use religion to define and justify the way they act. But the way I act is not based on religion; it’s more of a personal choice.
Let’s take an example: Jesus Christ. To you, he is important not because he is the Son of God, but because he is a good moral role model?
Yes, for sure.
So is there any theological importance? Or is it all about morality?
No, it’s all about morality. It seems too convenient, something to make you feel good at night by knowing that someone is looking after you. I think religion is something society developed to help people cope with things, to help them act correctly around other people.
How do you cope with things? Do you use God at all to relate to the world?
No, I usually don’t think about religion at all during the day. Do you?
Yes, I go to church usually, and participate in lots of community activities in college, too. I pray and ask God for guidance and help – for hard challenges, tests, lots of thanks. I could not imagine what my life would be like without God – whatever that means to me. Part of it is very intangible. And yes, part of it comforts me. But I also believe in the theological aspects, which makes it different than just morality.
But you rarely think about God?
Yea, pretty much never.
What about the greater meaning of life? You know, why are you doing the things you’re doing, why you live.
I’m very deeply rooted in technology; I’m a big fan of using technology to help improve and advance humanity. It’s a dangerous view because it’s so optimistic. But a lot better change can come out of technology than religion or politics. Big breakthroughs push us forward.
So it’s all about science?
Yea, and there’s not enough emphasis on science right now. People aren’t as interested as they should be. Like space exploration – it’s going under because people say it’s a waste of money. People don’t realize how important it is. So many inventions have come out of it.
My “higher meaning” is this forward progress, it’s not supernatural in any way, but it motivates us to work hard and to improve ourselves.