Non-religious students practice introspection, soul searching

Worshiping a god or deity doesn't speak to many Central Michigan University students.

Although religion plays a large role in cultures and individuals' lives worldwide, some CMU students have trouble finding themselves spiritually aligned with a particular belief, or they might believe evolution debunks the possibility of gods or deities.

Junior Ashley Felman was raised by a Catholic mother and Jewish father, but found as she grew up, her parents' beliefs have not necessarily connected with her own.

“There are so many more outside factors that have changed my perspective,” the DeWitt native said. “I can’t fully live my life the way I want by following the rules or guidelines of religion.”

Felman said she finds a lot of religions to be rigid and doesn’t agree with some of the older and outdated concepts some religions might have.

“Society is changing everyday, and culture changes with it," Felman said. "The Bible, for example, was written so many years ago, and I can’t live my life abiding by it because I feel like I would be missing out on so many opportunities.”

Philosophy and religion assistant professor Todd Tremlin said an interesting phenomenon in recent generations is a shift to defining oneself as "spiritual" rather than "religious."

"In our rapidly changing world, many young people find it difficult to relate to traditional religions," Tremlin said.

Battle Creek senior Cory Kinne said he was raised by his parents following Methodist beliefs, but he transitioned to atheism relatively smoothly.

“I was taught by my parents and pastor that the Bible was allegorical, so I think it was pretty easy for me to transition into non-belief,” Kinne said. “The biggest influence which led me to atheism was definitely learning about evolutionary biology in more depth.”

Kinne is the president of the Dogma-Free Society on campus, a registered student organization made up of mainly atheists and agnostics. Kinne said the group is open to all beliefs and does not have a defined ideology or practice.

“What I think people should know about how I feel toward religion is that I don’t hate their religion, and I don’t hate them," Kinne said. "Do I believe their religion is false? Yes. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like them or think that their belief is dangerous."

Fowlerville junior Chelsea Shreve is also a part of the Dogma-Free Society. Shreve was raised in Livingston County, one of the most conservative counties in Michigan, and she said she was reluctant to be open about her nonreligious thoughts since she had no one to talk to.

"I was raised Lutheran, but after some of my own exploring, I realized that I saw some inconsistency, and it didn't make sense," Shreve said.

While some students are still searching for their beliefs, many have trouble expressing their doubt or uncertainty to religious families.

Auburn Hills sophomore Christopher Searle said he is neutral on religion, which isn't necessarily easy to express around his grandmother, who used to be a nun.

Searle said he was raised Catholic, but over time, he realized he couldn't commit to one religion because he believes that anything is possible.

"I don't want to shut out possible things that could be the truth," Searle said. "I feel as if I don't want to cancel things out. I have an agnostic feeling toward religion."

Charlotte senior Anna Sloan said she was never brought up in a religious setting, and the only real exploration she has had was in a religion course, which opened her eyes to all the world's different religions.

"It was interesting to learn about more than just Christianity, but I still have never been able to really wrap my head around religion," Sloan said. "I've seen people who can spend their whole day praying, and I think that is really awesome, but just not for me. I think there are a lot more facts that support evolution-based creation."

Sloan said she isn't ruling out the religion and isn't opposed to a more in-depth development of her beliefs.

"I feel like I'm still growing, and maybe when I'm older and my life has changed, I will find a religion that I can relate to," she said.


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