My son lost his faith in college, if he ever had a faith to lose. He says he doesn't believe in sin, which is quite ironic coming from a man very much against the injustices in the world as he sees them, and who thinks God (if there is a God, which there isn’t according to him) must be very evil. When I try to describe to him my own salvation experience and the personal God that I know, he says it is the height of arrogance for anyone to believe God would know and care for him personally. Nothing means as much to me as does the salvation of my own son, so I am reaching out for some wisdom.
There are so many young men like your son, and it breaks my heart. Is there anything you can do? Yes, you can love and pray for him, as I am sure you are doing. Is there anything you can say? Yes, but don’t force the opening. Let it present itself. God will help you.
Unfortunately, your son would probably dismiss your conversion experience and your relationship with Christ. The argument from experience is one of the most persuasive for those who have had it; that is why we use it. But it is one of the least persuasive for those who have not had it, because people can imagine all sorts of things. The novelist Philip K. Dick seems to have thought he was receiving messages of great importance from beings in orbit around the star Sirius.
Don’t be discouraged by this, because there are other things you might say. When the opportunity arises, I suggest that rather than present your son with arguments for your faith, as I gather that you have been doing, you ask a few gently pointed questions about his own arguments against faith. Just start him thinking.
For example, as to your son’s notion that it is arrogant to believe God could know and love us personally: Doesn’t it seem much more arrogant to believe that He couldn’t? Does your son think the problem is that God’s infinite mind is not big enough to pay attention to everyone at once? Or that His mind is big enough, but His heart is too small? You might put those questions to him.
Considering your son’s complaints about injustice, he might say that God’s heart is too small. But as you point out, your son also denies the reality of sin, and he can’t have it both ways. Either refusing to love is really wrong, or it isn’t. So which does your son believe? You might try putting that question to him too.
Suppose he answers that refusing to love isn’t really wrong – that the standard of good and evil is all in our heads. Then he has no business using the injustice of things as a reason not to believe in God, does he? Because according to him, there is no injustice of things.
But suppose he answers that refusing to love is really wrong -- the standard of good and evil is real and objective, and God doesn’t measure up. In that case, he believes in some highest thing after all, some God above God. So what is this God above God that he believes in? How does he know about Him? Try asking him that.
Don’t let him get away with saying something like “The source of the standard is us. It’s a human invention.” For if we are the source, then it is just in our heads, and he’s back to square one.
And don’t let him get away with saying something like “The source of the standard is evolution. We just came out this way.” For if we are the result of a meaningless and purposeless process that did not have us in mind, then the standard is utterly arbitrary. That takes him back to square one as well.
But if the standard isn’t just in our heads, then we’ve learned of it from somewhere -- so where did we learn it from? It would be interesting to hear his reply.
Remember, he knows what you think – or he thinks he does. So let him do the answering for a change.
As I suggested, ask your questions gently. They won’t clinch the case for Christianity, but they may stir your son to begin doubting a few of his doubts – some of the things that he should have been doubting, but hasn’t been.
For now, that’s enough. Keep praying, and see what happens next.