When it comes to religion, I have an agnostic outlook. How can I believe in a deity that hasn't caused any inexplicable miracles or events? Nature and science can prove just about anything that happens in the world, so where's room for a God? There are a few reasons why I chose not to be religious, yet that doesn't mean I am close-minded to anyone else's religious beliefs. I'm not a critic and won't discriminate against someone because of their religion. In fact, that's one reason why I chose not to believe in a god: religion seems like it should be a peaceful, hope-giving experience, not something that should cause hatred, wars, and death. Why would anyone want to believe in something that tells them to hate or kill?

Also, wouldn't God have prevented certain "unwanted" events that have happened in my life? I know a few people who have had horrible things happen to them that they didn't deserve. Some believed in a god and religion, but still they met an early death or became ill. Things happen for a reason that nobody can control, not even a god. It's just a mystery of life. And I can live with that belief, not try and blame it on some higher being that I can't prove is real.

I'll admit I believe in "aliens"; not the stereotypical green ones with big heads who fly around in spaceships, but a more intelligent race. Humans can't possibly be the only living race in this gigantic universe. For all we know, we could've been an alien's experiments gone wrong or descendants of them. Thinking that a god can control a planet is somewhat believable to me but to think one god controls the entire universe? No way.

But like I always say, I could be wrong. If someone could prove to me that a god is real or some higher being exists, then so be it. -- Chelsea Kennedy, Madison H.S.

After a long day of school, I was ready to go home and take a nap. Unfortunately, calculus homework beckoned and I knew the nap would have to wait as I hurried home."Ouch!" I cried as I slammed into a tall woman with fair skin. "Good God, lady, where did you come from? Oww...that hurt."

"I am sorry, Rachel," she replied.

"How do you know my name?"

She smiled. "I know a lot of things."

"Who are you?"

"I believe you had it correct when you exclaimed, 'Good God, lady.'"

I studied her exquisite angular features for a moment before laughing. "Yeah, right. I mean, we all wish we were gods, but who are you really?"

"I am called many things, but you may call me..." She paused as if thinking about it. "...Jessica. And I created this universe you live in."

My skepticism refused to go away. "Prove your almighty omnipotence, then."

She sighed. "Why does no one believe anymore? Belief is something I miss."

"Fine," I conceded, "no miracles. Just answer one question: What is my favorite number?"

"Seventeen because it's the day you were born on."

I was silent for a moment. "Okay, I believe you...but what are you doing down here? Shouldn't you be up in the sky somewhere, answering people's prayers or something?"

"No. At the moment I'm here to talk to you."

"Oh, well, I'm flattered. What's the issue at hand?"

"I came to offer a bit of advice. I'm sure you've heard it before, but it seems that you've never quite taken it to heart."

"And so you think that if you tell me I'll suddenly listen to the advice?"

"Well," Jessica smiled, "we can all dream, can't we?"

"But I don't even go to church. Why would you do this for me?"

"You don't have to prove yourself to me. I pay attention to all the people and creatures on this earth, regardless. It doesn't matter to me what they say or do because I know the truth. What matters is what we know in our hearts. Don't listen to the bad things others say. Don't second-guess yourself if people don't seem to believe in you. Know that, and things will be fine."

She walked past me then, as if finished.

"Wait! Was that the advice? Aren't you gonna answer any questions?"

"One," she agreed.

"What's the point?" I asked.

She shrugged. "Live." -- Rachel Oliver, Madison H.S.

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