Honorable mention — High school essay contest: Sierra Kolodjski

Sierra Kolodjski

Honorable mention

Critical thinking rather than blind faith

FFRF awarded Sierra $200 for her essay.

By Sierra Kolodjski

I had attended a Lutheran church since I was born. I had personally identified as agnostic for a long time, despite not believing in God. I finally admitted to myself that I was an atheist when I realized that the only thing that stopped me from doing so was the fear that my church had instilled in me that nonbelievers go to hell. From there, I strengthened my position when examining religion objectively without imputing the personal biases I had from growing up in a Christian family.

Abstractly, it is not reasonable to assume there is a god.  There is no reason that an all-powerful god would give us the ability to reason and expect us not to use it, instead having faith, rather than providing proof.  In addition, even if there were proof of the existence of the Christian god, I wouldn’t worship that figure because God in the bible condones rape, slavery and murder.  Religion isn’t a necessity for morality and can often justify and perpetuate harmful ideas without being questioned.  If one is only moral to avoid the wrath of god, that would be a selfish reason to do so.

And then there is the harm in executing the laws of the bible. Eve taking the first bite of the apple is used to justify misogyny, such as the pain of childbirth being seen as women’s punishment for this first sin. There can also be an inordinate emphasis on women’s purity. In my confirmation, I was shown the infamous tape, similar to the chewed gum or crumpled paper analogy. The harmful and dangerous idea directed specifically at women that when you have sex, it decreases your worth.  Other arbitrary emphasis on the debatable passages about homosexuality has destroyed many people’s lives.

Critical thinking is incredibly important for all humans to exercise about all aspects of their life. Most religions try to stifle critical thinking to ensure members blindly follow them in order to maintain control. Everybody should try to examine their ideas objectively and come to their own, reasoned conclusions.

Sierra, 18, is from Oak Grove, Minn., and will be attending University of Wisconsin-River Falls with plans to major in chemistry. She earned her Associates of Art degree while still in high school. She volunteers at a local senior care home and has worked as a bank teller for three years.