Being Godless in a Country of God-fearers
In 2020, a survey done by the Social Weather Services (SWS) concluded that 18% of Filipinos see religion as unimportant or irrelevant, a majority of responders were youth, such as high school and college students. With the new generations of Filipinos, understanding their reasons for atheism may usher in societal changes.
The PSHS system has been notable for producing countless scientists, researchers, and professionals throughout its existence. This is due to its rigorous education system that puts emphasis on science and technology. Although, an unwarranted effect of this is a growing irreligious majority on campus grounds, even though the PSHS regularly hosts events of worship such as masses.
In a very religious nation, being atheistic or agnostic may be seen as “wrong” or “immoral” and can damage a person’s values, but as scholars, we believe that this behavior is a continuation of the debate between science and religion and the growing immorality of the theistic faiths, especially in inclusivity.
One reason comes from the debate of science and religion. Ignoring any morality, these two institutions always come into conflict with each other. In fact, several sources cite that religion and science are incompatible. Science and technology revolve around knowledge through human observation and reasoning. Religion believes that there is information deeper and cannot be comprehended by the human mind. In a school that focuses on science and technology, there is no doubt that religion may appear as conflicting to students’ interests.
On the subject of morality, contrary to societal perception, atheists and agnostics do have values. The argument is that in order to be morally upright you need to have a religion, yet if that were the case, a majority of criminals would be atheists. Atheists believe in the recognition of basic human rights, and the principle of authority, loyalty, and sanctity, much like the teachings in theistic religions.
In fact, faiths nowadays have garnered a negative stigma over their values and beliefs. In our dynamic society, current social issues focus on inclusivity and equal rights for all marginalized groups, from race to gender identity.
Religion is often associated with conservative peoples of society, and most of these groups reject or are reluctant in accepting change. Religious conservatives still believe in the concept of a superior race or heteronormativity, and since current society frowns upon this type of behavior, most youths shy away from religion altogether to avoid them being associated with these discriminating behaviors.
The beliefs of the youth are the hallmark of our dynamic society. If the majority of the students in the PSHS system consider themselves atheistic or agnostic, it is irrational to associate scholars with bad morals. Even with a course heavily emphasizing science, scholars can still embody values and virtues similar to the Christian ideals through other courses given in the curriculum, such as in the social sciences. With the philosophical nature of religion and its ties with opposing change, equality, and inclusivity, society will continue to stray away as it holds its moral ground, unless religion adjusts for the better.