Last week I began a new 6-part series helping Christian students think through how to prepare for life at a big university. The series is based on a recent lecture I gave to the Regents School in Austin, Texas, where I laid out 6 principles designed to help rising college students think more clearly about what’s ahead. It’s also based on my book, Surviving Religion 101.
In the first installment my advice was simple: “Take this transition seriously.” Yes, students can be overly skeptical about their future college experience—what I call a “martyr complex”—where they begin to think everyone is out to get them. But the opposite is a danger too. Some students mistakenly shrug their shoulders as if this whole college thing is no big deal when it comes to their spiritual lives.
We now come to my second principle: “You Won’t Have All the Answers.”
As students jump into the intellectual fray at their university, it will quickly become clear that there are many questions they don’t know how to answer. Maybe it will be questions about God (if God is good, then why is there so much evil in the world?), or questions about the Bible (how can you believe in inspiration if there are contradictions in the Gospel accounts?), or even questions about science (hasn’t genetics proven that the human race did not originate with just two people?).
Whatever the question might be, it can be very uncomfortable not having an answer. The intellectual give-and-take of a big university environment can be intimidating. If you get caught on the losing end of an exchange with your professor or classmates (whatever that may mean) you might feel silly or embarrassed. It might make you withdraw from future conversations or even lead you to doubt what you believe.
But should a lack of answers lead to this sort of reaction? Not at all. [Read more…]