Q: Our son came home from college for Thanksgiving, and when we got ready to go to church, he said he wasn't going because he didn't believe in God anymore. What's happened to him? This has stunned us. - Mrs. J.McK.
A: We sometimes forget that most new college students are away from home for the first time, and their newfound independence can throw them off balance before they realize it. They find it exhilarating to cast aside old beliefs and adopt new ones, just as your son has done.
The problem is that they usually don't have the ability to evaluate new ideas carefully and critically. Nor do they realize that they don't embrace such ideas because they're logical, but just to prove their independence. Unfortunately, on many campuses it's popular to reject the past, and some professors take delight in encouraging this. I wish churches did more to prepare young people for the challenges they'll face in college, both inside and outside the classroom.
What can you do? First, let your son know you love him, regardless of what he claims to believe (or not believe). Then challenge him not to accept any idea because it's fashionable on his campus, but to have the courage to examine his beliefs. You probably can't answer all his questions -- but others can, and he needs to know this. Your pastor or local Christian bookstore may have some suggestions.
Then pray for your son, that he will see the emptiness and hopelessness of atheism, and realize that God not only is real, but that He also loves him and wants your son to know Him. Then urge him to give his life to Christ, for only in Him "are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).