In society, faith and religion are often viewed as enemies of science and academia. The common view is that in order to be successful, one has to triumph over the other. I have been asked the question multiple times, “how can you be so smart but still believe in God?” Questions like these both amuse and sadden me because while I have an answer, I always wonder why lack of intelligence and having faith often seem to fall into the same category, especially on college campuses. Though faith and academia require two separate ways of thinking, it is possible to in fact have the best of both worlds.
Main Reasons College Students Reject Their Faith
Rebellion- I have asked several of my peers who are atheist or agnostic why they reject religion. One of the most common responses was that they grew up in a certain denomination, or in a very religious home led them to stray from their faith. It is not uncommon to see students who went to church regularly or went to Christian schools step away from their faith once they reach college. All religions have rules or moral codes that people are supposed to live by, and after living by them for the past 18 or so years, some students get tired of it and are ready to let loose in ways that their religious upbringing would not previously allow.
Peer Pressure- Though it is uncommon to see students pressing others to believe as they do, sometimes indirect peer pressure leads students to leave their faith. Various religions are often mocked and students may feel that it is easier to not believe than to stand up for their religion. Also, some students don’t know how to defend their faith against scientific theories that try and discredit certain religious text and traditions.
Lack of Acceptance- There are aspects of every major religion that can be seen as intolerant, depending on who you ask. The perceived intolerance can turn those that already belong to that religion, away. This is especially true of those engaging in activities that they know their religion condemns.
It is hard to keep your faith while in college but it isn’t an impossible task, and contrary to popular belief, more people do it than one may think. Some ways to keep your faith in college are:
Find likeminded people– You should not reject or judge people based on their religious beliefs, or lack thereof. It does however help to have people who share similar beliefs with you so that you may act as a support system for one another.
Get Involved- There are on campus ministries to cater to the major religions and different denominations. Try getting involved because not only do you get a chance to learn more about your faith and grow as a person, you may possibly establish lasting friendships.
Don’t be afraid to be different– It’s okay to be different. Depending on your religion and your personal relationship with God, you may decline to participate in certain social events. Other people may find it weird and they may even call you lame but, brush it off and keep it moving because there will come a time when comments such as those will no longer bother you. It’s okay to choose your faith over what others consider to be “fun.”
If you really want something, and it’s important, you’ll find a way to make it happen, the same applies to keeping a close relationship with God while in college. Just because you are in college does not mean that your faith is rendered invalid, it just means that you have a different outlook on how things work.