Religion, as C.S. Lewis wrote, “if false, is of no importance, and if true, is of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important.” Yet on the Rollins campus, there seems to be mostly apathy towards religious truth. Even people who claim to adhere to a religious tradition often fail to follow its teachings. As college students, we have the opportunity here at Rollins to grapple with the big questions of life in an environment that will readily provide us the resources to do so. Is there a God? Does life have ultimate meaning? Is morality grounded in something higher than societal values? Such questions simply cannot be answered outside of religion – so why would we look elsewhere?
Furthermore, these are not merely academic questions, but are integral to our identities as human beings. If the answer to those questions is “no,” if religion is a complete fairy tale, then there is no reason why delusory religious practices should have a role in our lives. As St. Paul wrote in his letter to the Corinthians, “If Christ is not raised from the dead, then [Christians] are to be pitied above all men.” If his religion were false, Paul writes, then millions are devoting their lives or even losing their lives for a delusion.
If, however, there is true meaning for our existence, true justice for the oppressed that we could never give, true love and hope that transcends times, trends, and lines on a map, then how could we ever refrain from building our lives around such a magnificent reality? Religious questions matter. Yet as look at Rollins, I see a campus that is largely apathetic to the big questions in life. Is there no wonder and enthusiasm in the prospect that there could be a God of the universe that loves you? Wouldn’t that be the most important thing you could ever find out? Isn’t it worth at least trying to find out? I think the driver of this apathy is the widespread assumption that religion is a matter of personal preference, and that religions all say the same thing at the core. If it all comes out the same in the wash, then there’s more reason to care about religion other than for personal enjoyment, or perhaps studying it as an historical and cultural phenomenon.
However, a pluralistic view of religion simply cannot be true; it reflects either ignorance of the difference in religious teachings, or intolerance that one view should claim to be closer to reality than another. All religions cannot possibly be true; a cursory reading of the claims that they make will demonstrate this. They could all be false, but how is that view any more tolerant than claiming that one religion is correct? I’m not arguing that all you should ever do is read holy books, pray to gods at random in the hopes of finding the right one, or try to force others to believe what you do. I am arguing that college is the time and place to be having conversations about our place in the world and the reality we believe in.
I want to have these conversations. I want to seek truth. What about you?
Kolten Ellis is a junior Philosophy and Economics double major, as well as president of the Philosophy and Religion Club. He would love to keep the conversation going and welcomes ideas for future article topics concerning God, science, morality, etc – feel free to email him at KEllis@rollins.edu
This article was originally published in the Sandspur.