Saturday, May 25, 2024

Belief and Non-Belief

By Jean Salgados, Editor-in-Chief

First Printed on Vol. XCI No. 1. July 30, 2019

I’ve lived most of my life under the care and guidance of a Catholic family that sent me to a Catholic school in the Province of Bohol. My inquisitive outlook on how things work led me to reject most of the religious structures I’ve lived with. I currently live out my life in accordance to the ways of Humanism, and even prior to my disbelief. Walking into Silliman University, I knew that I was once again going to be walking among God-fearing individuals, I but also hoped for something different.

My mother taught me to accept people as they are and try to see the silver lining in every circumstance that I come across in all aspects of my life. The Christian student population in Silliman is quite different from the Catholic population I grew up with in Bohol; both communities do share the same love and devotion for both God and Jesus. The dormitories within Silliman have a devotion session and they have services similar to the Holy Masses the Catholics celebrate every sunday. What I find most interesting is the apparent existence of multiple Christian denominations in the student population.

From Latter-Day Saints to Islam, Silliman University made the inclusiveness aspect of their environment a good place for the harmonious existence of many belief systems. But I have come to ask the question of whether the people with no religion can be viewed as normal in this great institution. Non-believers are but a minority in this University and from my personal experience, I’m glad to have found other people who share the same belief. What I find disappointing is the fact that there still exist some people who can’t wrap around their  idea heads theof someone not believing the same way they do.

There are people who are militant about their religion that they become bigots — the unideal image of a religious person, but the most common form of one. I had recently come across a group of Christians in school who would relentlessly push their religious agenda on me whenever they talk about praising Jesus, and at the same time being sparing no expense when throwing tirades at people who openly contradict their sayings. I believe that these ways of thinking have no place in the progressive space that is Silliman University.

As a Humanist, I came into Silliman knowing I will be scrutinized for my secular ways of thinking and how openly I denounce religious faith. But I have come to the conclusion that perhaps the best way to achieve harmony is not to call out each other’s belief systems, but to engage in healthy intellectual discourse; to hold to one’s beliefs, settling and accepting the differences, and to ultimately work together despite these differences. Because in the span of time I have been in Silliman, I have seen stronger bonds despite the differences and even stronger willingness to form connections. This is what I love about Silliman — the strength in diversity.


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