Dear Dr. Archer,
I am 19 years old, and cannot understand how someone can be perfectly okay with not being a Christian. I want to believe that life is what we make it and that we can shape the future, but Christianity says something completely different. This is causing me much grief and self-doubt.
Christians believe that the sole purpose of humanity is to serve and love God and to spread the Word. God wants a loving relationship with mankind, but man must first turn away from his sinful nature and repent.
Christians also believe that true happiness, peace and personal satisfaction comes from a relationship with God. God is all that man needs and earthly things or personal ambitions are bad. How can I take all of this in without going insane?
I feel bad and inadequate because I don't have a particular religion or a strict moral code. I don't think I believe in the Bible or Jesus at all. I first want solid proof of Jesus’ historical existence before I devote the rest of my life to His religion.
My mom is very devoted to her Christian faith and very involved in the church. She sometimes tells me that I need to get involved and change my ways, but it just makes me angry or scared.
I want to live my life for myself and make myself happy, not for some spiritual being that I don't know. I don't want to force myself to serve someone that I don't love or care about. But at the same time, I don't want to go to Hell when the time comes.
As you can see, I have a lot of anxiety about the big questions in life and it's eating me up inside. I could really use some psychological advice and relief!
How do I cope with not knowing the purpose of mankind? Are you spiritual in any way? If yes, why? And is it the only righteous way to live your life? If not, how do you cope with that decision? Especially if you could go to Hell.
I really want to start researching the history of Christianity, the Bible and Jesus to discover the truth. If I am convinced that Christianity is the real deal, then I will learn to commit.
I know that this will sound pretty bad, but I really hope that religion doesn't exist at all. I don't want any limitations on what I can be or do. There are enough rules in life already. I feel like I'm supposed to have spiritual beliefs and morals, because it makes you a good person. How can I deal with my uncertainties?
Everybody wants to go to heaven, but nobody wants to die. Ahhh, you are tackling a subject which has bothered man since the beginning of time! Friendships have been lost, families torn apart, courts divided, and many, many wars fought, killing millions, over this very subject.
I feel honored you think I have the answers, Harriett. The truth of the matter is that to believe in God, you must have faith in something you cannot prove. Sorry, no proof here.
As far as physical proof, what we do have from that era is a limestone inscribed with the name Pontius Pilate, who of course, was reportedly responsible for the execution of Jesus. World historian Will Durant has painstakingly spent his life studying Hebrew writings and claims no Jew or Gentile from the first century denies the existence of Jesus. In fact, Jesus is a prominent character in the historical writings. Whether he was the Son of God is left up to each individual to decide, but there is much historical data and eye witness accounts from that time, that will be helpful in making your decision. Word Pictures by CrossTV is another source to research for more information.
Christians don’t believe wealth and possessions are always bad things. As with anything, Harriett, wealth can be used for good or evil. It goes deeper into the individual's heart -- do you make money and possessions your god more than focusing on love and compassion for others?
Money often changes folks for the worst -- the love of money is considered the root of all evil. Money can be used for good, but can also be used for terrible, horrific things. It's basically the attitude toward money that makes the difference.
Whatever your belief, Harriett, it is yours, either through faith or absence of faith. This is a very personal decision that you, yourself must make. What I believe is irrelevant. This is YOU, and YOUR beliefs. Not mine, not your mom's but strictly your own. You hope religion doesn't exist, but it most certainly does, and religious wars are fought every day, even now.
If you find Christianity, you won't learn to commit; you'll want to commit. I think the same can be said for any answer you find that gives you peace from within, whatever that may be. I've given you a few pieces of material to start you on your research, so begin your journey today.
In the meantime, remember that you're not the only person to have all these questions. It means you're thoughtful, and that you take things seriously. Good luck, and when you find your answer, feel free to share them with the rest of us!