News, Religious Life

Number of religious non-believers increasing as some students change views on faith

The number of atheists in the United States continues to grow. According to a Pew Research Center study, the percentage of Americans who identify as atheist went from 1.6 percent in 2007 to 3.1 percent in 2014. Students at the University of Miami are not immune to the trend steering away from structured religion. Students, even those who grew up religious are turning to becoming religion non-conforming.

Ozerk Turan, a junior psychology major, was raised as a devout Muslim, praying five times a day including every night before he went to sleep. Turan, of Turkish descent, abstained from eating pork as well as part of his practice.

Turan maintained a connection to his religion until the beginning of his freshman year at UM. It was then, when he first started to stray away from Islam. Turan began to explore the sciences and saw his intrinsic religious beliefs clashed heavily with what he was reading.

“I started reading up into astrophysics and quantum physics a lot toward the end of high school and those realms really clash with the basics of religion,” Turan said.

For Turan, the non-adaptive nature of religion and its controlling uses are other reasons he no longer identifies as Muslim. He said he began to see how religion played a larger role in society and in its followers more than he was comfortable with.

“I also began to think a lot about how religion never really adapts to society and how it is interpreted in millions of different ways and that really started bothering me,” Turan said. “And then I saw how the people in Turkey were so easily controlled by religious propaganda.”

Although Turan no longer identifies with a religion, he does not consider himself an atheist.

“I would say that I’m non-religious but not specifically an atheist in the way that I don’t believe in nothing,” Turan said. “I believe in some sort of higher power that cannot be perceived.”

Junior Eric Purcell, like Turan, was raised with a structured religious upbringing. Growing up in southern Virginia, Purcell attended Catholic Church every Sunday. But, he now views organized religion in a negative light. Purcell said he believes that much of the world’s violence is a result of religion.

“I have too many issues with organized religion and its association with violence,” Purcell said, an honors communication major with a focus on motion pictures. “Organized religion has a history of violence. I think a lot of terror organizations of the world operate on a religious basis. In the past, a lot of wars have been based in religion like the Crusades.”

Unlike Turan and Purcell, senior Haley Walker was raised without an organized religion. However, Walker said she consciously knew around middle school that she identified as an atheist.

Although Walker had a secular childhood, she and her family still engage in activities that are rooted in certain religions including Christianity. Walker said her family decides to focus on different aspects of the holidays and celebrations than what some traditionally do.

“I celebrate Christmas, but very secularly,” Walker said, a creative writing major. “My family emphasizes the gift-giving and family bonding aspects of it instead.”

Though Turan shares similar sentiments to many others throughout the world regarding organized religion and its practices, he said he still finds value in those who believe in a higher entity.

“I do have respect for those who spiritually use religion as a way to guide themselves,” Turan said.

December 4, 2017

Reporters

Tej Joshi


Around the Web
  • Miami Herald
  • UM News
  • HurricaneSports

The Miami Hurricanes are running low on tight ends. But their receivers — notably sophomore speedste ...

A six-pack of Hurricanes notes on a Tuesday: ▪ The pretty even split of carries between Travis Homer ...

The University of Miami has lost another player to surgery, and the depth was already lacking at thi ...

A six-pack of UM notes on a Monday: ▪ There has been no more popular or successful quarterback at UM ...

The Miami Hurricanes’ defense leads the nation in tackles for loss and stopping opponents on third d ...

UM President Julio Frenk outlined the strategies of the Roadmap to Our New Century, part of his Stat ...

Listeners to UM President Julio Frenk’s State of the U reacted positively to the message and the Uni ...

At UM’s inaugural State of the U address, President Julio Frenk detailed the strategies of the Roadm ...

Tropical storm scientists and climate experts at the University of Miami provided insight, observati ...

Joseph Ganitsky, a professor in the Miami Business School, examines the financial crisis facing Arge ...

Jeff Thomas may be quiet off the field, but the sophomore has been consistently making lots of noise ...

The Atlantic Coast Conference announced Tuesday the league slate for the upcoming 2018-19 season. ...

Miami remained ranked in both major polls Sunday, checking in at No. 21 in the Associated Press Top ...

The Miami Hurricanes came to Toledo, Ohio for the biggest home game in the history of Toledo footbal ...

A quartet of University of Miami men's tennis student-athletes concluded the final day of compe ...

TMH Twitter
About TMH

The Miami Hurricane is the student newspaper of the University of Miami in Coral Gables, Fla. The newspaper is edited and produced by undergraduate students at UM and is published weekly in print on Tuesdays during the regular academic year.