Fifth place — High school essay contest: Andrew Delaney 

Andrew Delaney

‘Brainwashed’ into logic

FFRF awarded Andrew $1,500.

By Andrew Delaney 

“Of course, you don’t believe in God. You’ve been brainwashed your entire life by your atheist father,” said a Christian friend of mine, with absolutely no recognition of any irony. Nonetheless, her comment made me wonder, “What is the difference between brainwashing and educating?” My conclusion? One is based on fact. 

While others attended bible camp, I watched science shows like “Myth-Busters” and “Nova,” and, from a young age, I would become entranced in scientific thought for hours. I became fascinated by science because principles would demonstrate themselves in reality, from realizing that crescent moons prove a spherical Earth to understanding that human tailbones insinuate evolution. Meanwhile, my Christian peers were convinced that a god created the universe in six days. 

Science not only encourages questioning but requires it. In contrast, when a Christian inquires about the existence of God, they are told they lack “faith.” As someone who grew up with the nickname “Mr. What-If,” the imperviousness of religion to curiosity was depressing to me, while its embrace by science was exciting. Thus, I chose to trust science. 

As I continue my education at the University of California-Berkeley, with a major in biochemistry, I am interested in a particular technology — CRISPR. However, I fear religion poses an obstacle to its success. CRISPR is a protein that acts as a gene-editing tool with the potential to cure nearly all genetic diseases. Despite its promising results thus far, CRISPR remains underfunded, and the public is widely hesitant. Much of this skepticism is because CRISPR does not fall in line with Christianity. A theist may argue, “God created his children to be perfect. Why manipulate God’s creation?” 

Yet, as is evident from the millions of people who suffer every year from genetic disease, humans are not without flaws. To provide an idea of the world’s priorities, in 2019, the Vatican’s net worth alone was 4 billion euros, while CRISPR Therapeutics, the largest CRISPR company by far, is worth 5 percent of that. This favoritism toward an outdated community spreading baseless claims about a technology that aims to save millions of lives is an example of just how irrational religion can make humans. 

At times, science is accused of lacking appeal, but the intricate complexity that science weaves every aspect of the natural world into is nothing short of beautiful. The idea that one does not have to defend scripture in the face of compelling evidence otherwise is freeing. In turn, such freedom allows individuals to act more logically in every aspect of life. 

My hope for the future is that science is understood not to be a field re-served for geniuses, but rather a beautiful story for the masses desperately in need of an ending. 

Andrew, 18, is from Chicago and attends the University of California-Berkeley. “I grew up with a quiet atheist as a father and a Catholic mother,” Andrew writes. “I never was religious, although I’ve only publicly described myself as an atheist for about two years. In high school, I was the president of student council, co-captain of the basketball team, and an active member of the math team.”