Finding God at Cornell

by Esther Jiang

At times it can be difficult to find God at Cornell. When you stand in front of Day Hall, you can hear tour guides touting to the masses, “Cornell University was founded as the first non-sectarian university of the Ivy League.”  Ezra Cornell expressed his disdain for the “dead and putrid carcass of ‘the Church,’” as well as his hope for the triumph of secular humanism. Andrew White wrote A History of the Warfare of Science with Theology in Christendom, which ended with science replacing theology. At Cornell, the products of the non-sectarian ideology are many, and each accomplishment reiterates the foundation on which it was laid.

Nonetheless, despite the advancements in our technology and thinking, we see that instinctive and unexplainable longings for love, order, justice, and purpose continue to exist. Furthermore, scientific discoveries are unable to resolve societal issues, such as hatred, inequality, racism, and violence. These questions prompt us to consider religion, which is the set of beliefs by which an individual lives. Religion points to what we worship, and what we worship dictates how we live our lives.

The Cornell Claritas exists to challenge the assumption that religion is no longer relevant in the secular and intellectual environment. More specifically, we are interested in talking about the Christian God, who we believe created every man to know Him (Romans 1:19). Even those who do not consciously worship a “god” are affected by religion; as David Foster Wallace once said, “Everyone worships. The only choice we get is what to worship.” We hope that the ruminations and reflections of Christian students will inspire others to consider whether or not there is truth in the Gospel of Jesus Christ, who was crucified on a cross and resurrected in three days. We believe that Jesus is the Savior of our broken world, and we place our faith in Him.

We also believe that our faith is reasonable, and that faith can be reconciled to the scientific discoveries of our day, as well as economics, biology, psychology, art, history, hospitality, engineering, or industrial relations. You might be incredulous, but we hope that the Claritas will begin a conversation that helps people of all faiths, or of none, to re-evaluate the assumptions that shape their lives. For goal-oriented and purpose-driven college students, our time at Cornell is an important one of personal growth, and we hope that meaningful examinations of faith and reason can begin with the Claritas.

Lastly, I want to propose that it might not be difficult to find God at Cornell. Sage Chapel is a pocket of stillness that causes one stop and quiet his heart. The broad expanse of stars and the roaring gap of the gorges make one feel infinitely small. The inflow of students and talents from around the world is a beautiful and mysterious dynamic. These things often leave us in incomprehensible awe and wonder – do they possibly point to a God?

We admit that we don’t have answers for every question, but we are interested in the pursuit of truth. Thus, we are interested in your opinion and thoughts, and we hope that you will join us as we consider who God is and how we can find Him at Cornell.

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Want to know more about Esther? Read her bio here.

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