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Scott E. Sundvor ’12
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How does the average MIT student perceive religion? Last week, The Tech talked to students having lunch in W20, and asked them about their thoughts on religion at MIT. How is religion viewed on campus? How and why do people’s religious views get changed by MIT? Some found that their religious views deepened at college while others found that education made them question their previous beliefs. Ask a bunch of MIT students whether religion can be reconciled with science, and you are bound to get some interesting answers. Will you be surprised? For the full spectrum of views, see the interviews below.

—Jingyun Fan

Maria Cassidy, Course 1E, 2014

What religion do you identify with?

Nondenominational Christian.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

Yes, I’ve not really come across anything yet in my studies of the Bible and learning about evolution that can’t be reconciled. Any scientific process could have been orchestrated or created by a God.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

That’s such a hard question because of the definition of religion. I think it should play a larger role on campus. I think a lot more people would be able to find comfort and hope in being at MIT because I know depression and a lot of times loneliness and a sense of jadedness can be really overwhelming, at least for me and my friends being part of a Christian community has really improved our lives so much. I haven’t really been in other religious gatherings, but I hear they are really great. So it is probably the same for other religions as well.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

The most common view? It seems the most common view is that there is no God and that science wins and rules. That would be my assumption.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I definitely don’t think there is a difference between the courses. …I don’t see really any different religious culture in dorms. Other types of culture, but not religions.

Do you think there is there a difference in religious views between genders?

No.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

My faith has definitely grown a lot. I’ve been a part of really great groups like Cross Products and United Baptists, and working with like minds and intelligent people and studying the Bible and thinking “wait this doesn’t make sense, let’s examine the history and the though process.” My understanding has definitely improved, and hasn’t deterred my belief and also just the fact that MIT is so hard, and I’m really prone to loneliness and jadedness, and a sense that no one is particularly caring about me, but I know that God is caring about me. Being able to keep my life convenient and going to church on campus and finding a really strong Christian community on campus has been my way of getting everything under control emotionally. Yeah, it’s been awesome.

Lilian L. Guevara, Course 2, 2014

What religion do you identify with?

Baptist Christian.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

Um. …No.

So why are you at MIT then?

I’m not here for religion. I don’t really care about religion like that.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I think it should be a smaller role, because here we have so much diversity. There are a lot of religions, and it’s good to avoid any controversy.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I think... I’m not sure... there are small groups of very religious people, but I don’t know many people who are very religious.

Do you think there is a difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

No. I don’t think so.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

I think I’ve become more religious, just because I missed my family. And my mom is really religious, so that inspired me to get more into it.

Amadu A. Durham, Course 6, 2015

What religion do you identify with?

No religion.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

No, only because I see religion as certain guidelines that you have to follow. I don’t think it should be combined with science.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I think it is fine now, it shouldn’t really be larger or smaller. Only because we’re at an engineering school, where the focus is on science and engineering, so religion would skew purposes.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I would say probably no religion. I think a lot of people are so scientific, they don’t think too much about faith or anything like that.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I think it is more individual and private than dorms.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

Not really, I don’t think MIT has had any effect on my religious views.

Mary A. Breton, Course 3, 2014

What religion do you identify with?

Orthodox Christian.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

I do. I think that a lot of people are irreconcilable, but there are a lot of ways to. …people like to put things in a box, but there are a lot of ways to make everything fit together.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I think MIT is very unique that we have a lot of people who are very into the science. I think religion is very personal, and doesn’t necessarily need to be pushed. I think a lot of people are very skeptical, and all we can do is encourage what we know and let people make their own decisions.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I think a lot of people are anti-religion, although I’m not sure if it is anti-God or anti-church.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I think dorms attract different people so it makes sense that different dorms would attract different kinds of people, but I’m not really sure if there actually is a pattern.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

I think it has strengthened because it is one thing to go to church because your family goes to church, and it’s another thing to get up on a Sunday morning and go to church when you have a million other things to do, when you’ve partied the night before and you don’t really want to get up. I’ve been involved in a few Christian groups on campus and it has helped me understand that even though a lot of people don’t share my views, there are also a lot of people who do.

Scott E. Sundvor,
Course 2, 2012

What religion do you identify with?

I don’t identify with a religion.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

I think it depends on the religion. Some religious views are a lot stronger towards creationism and some allow scientific explanations, so it depends on which religion you associate with.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I think it should depend on the person. If someone is religious, they should be religious on campus, and if they aren’t, then they shouldn’t be. It seems to be right amount.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I think there are more atheists on campus than I’ve noticed at home in Florida.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I have no idea.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

I think they stayed about the same. If anything, even though now I don’t believe in religion, but I don’t believe science and God are disconnected.

Orevaoghene (Reva) S. Attah, Courses 10 and 14, 2015

What religion do you identify with?

Anglican Christian.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

No, it goes back to how atheists view the world contrasted with how Christians see the world.

So why are you at MIT?

I’m trying to get an education and give back to my country.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I’m falling behind on my religion since I came. Honestly, I haven’t gone to church since I came and I don’t read my Bible enough because there is so much work. The problem is that there is no time.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I don’t think that anybody can say, because there are so many different types of people. It is so diverse, there is no typical MIT student. I think a lot of people are open minded, I know a lot of people in the Muslim Students Association and a lot of Christians.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I don’t know.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

They have not changed one bit. I am still Christian; I believe in Jesus.

David C. Christoff, Course 2, 2014

What religion do you identify with?

I’m not religious.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

To an extent, so long as it is in the spiritual realm and not in the physical realm.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I think it should play a smaller role. I don’t like seeing people out at 77 shouting at me about religion. It would be nice to walk around without that in my face.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

I think most students aren’t very religious, but there are some very fervent exceptions.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

I lived in New House my freshman year, and there were more religious students there than I’ve seen anywhere else. I don’t think there is a difference between courses.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

They haven’t.

John-Ross Andrews, Course 2A, 2012

What religion do you identify with?

Agnostic.

Do you think that religion can be reconciled with science?

No I don’t think so.

Do you think religion should play a larger or smaller role on the MIT campus?

I believe religion adds conflict, and to avoid conflict it should play a smaller role on campus.

What do you think the religious view of the typical MIT student is?

Atheist.

What do you think the difference in religious views between dorms is? Between courses?

No, I think you can get a wide variety in every dorm.

What about between genders

Most boys don’t go to church, I don’t know what to say.

How have your religious views changed after you came to MIT?

I was a devout Roman Catholic before, and now I’m agnostic.

What happened?

Time, stress, and science.