Question:

Hello Mr. Hamilton

I am an 18 year old male. I write to you because I am feeling extremely depressed and confused, almost suicidal, and have done for about a year or so. First of all I would like to mention that I'm an atheist. I used to be a Christian, but even if I still believed in that, it wouldn't help. It would actually do the opposite since I would embrace being in heaven right now. However, part of me thinks that maybe if I got my faith back it would help, which I guess is one of the reasons I chose to write to a preacher. Basically, I just don't see the point in going on with life. What's the point of living, really?

One of the reasons I began to descend into depression was because I felt like my life is totally meaningless. Last year I began to feel like nothing meant anything anymore. People told me it was all part of growing up (which gave me hope that I would eventually gain perspective again). I just didn't understand how I was supposed to think or feel about anything, say or do to people - nothing made sense. I wondered how others saw life and how different it was from my own perspective. This is something I had never wondered before. Maybe I was overthinking things? I don't know. I've had good days and bad days over the last year, but it has gradually got worse and I am almost fully engulfed by depression. Part of me is even wondering why I am writing to you and what the meaning is to what I am saying. It was after all this that I began to wonder what the point was in any of us living, and then I started to become not just depressed, but suicidal.

My life is totally meaningless. I am a tiny speck in a vast universe I can't begin to comprehend. Trillions of things lived before me, and trillions of things will live after I die, and none of them will have any real purpose. You can tell me to seek medical help. I could do that. I could talk to my doctor and start taking medication. But what would that really help? All it would do is extend my life a few more years, and it will mean just as much as if I had never been born. You could preach to me from the bible, and tell me how we're all blessed. But none of it matters. None of us matter. A big rock could hit the earth tomorrow, killing us all, and the universe would go on as if nothing had happened. There is no point to our existence other than what we give it, and what we give it will just fade away one day like everything else.

The only real reason that has stopped me from killing myself is that there was one time I didn't feel like this, and I long to feel like that again. That and the fact that my parents would be devastated if I were to end my own life. I have better parents than I could ever hope for, and it would hurt them so much if I killed myself. But so what? They're just going to die one day and all of our memories with them. Their pain will mean nothing one day when the earth is destroyed. Ultimately, nothing at all matters. Why shouldn't I just join in on the big sleep? I wake up and want nothing more than to go back to bed. I would prefer a long sleep that I never wake up from to this life. I don't even have a bad life by any measure; there's just no point to it. As is commonly stated in more eloquent words, I didn't have any problems before I was born, and it'll be the same after I die. I have spoke to my parents about it but sometimes I express my emotions with anger. I come across as someone full of hate.

Your website has meant a lot to me in the short time I have read it, even though I am no longer a Christian. I saw some questions which happened to be slightly similar to mine. I don't even know what my question is to be honest, but I do hope to hear from you with any advice you may have. I figured you are as good a source as any to ask for help (despite our different religious views), because it is clear to me from your website that you are dedicated to helping people. Could you give me a good reason as to why I should not kill myself given how I view life? I'm sorry for the time you will take to read this and reply, but I don't know what to do anymore. I just don't see any reason to go on, and I thought if there was something I'm missing, talking to you would be a good step in the right direction.


Answer:

A Christian would understand that a person who commits suicide would not reach heaven because suicide is a form of murder "... and you know that no murderer has eternal life abiding in him" (I John 3:15). So let's put this aside for the moment.

It appears to me that your problem actually stems from the realization that if atheism is true, then life has no meaning. Atheism teaches that there is no purpose to life because there is no controlling influence -- everything is just random events. But what it can't explain is why the world isn't random. There is pattern and order everywhere you look -- a direct contradiction to what the atheist believes should exist.

Because you chose to embrace atheism, you took away from yourself the things that gave meaning and direction to your life. It isn't that these things ceased to exist. Your past belief didn't create them and your current lack of belief doesn't make them disappear. In other words, it isn't that life has no meaning. The problem really stems from you denial that meaning to life really exists because if you accept that life does have meaning, then you must ultimately deny atheism.

You have a glimpse of that meaning. You realize that your life does have meaning to other people, such as your parents. The logical conclusion is that meaning to life does exist -- you just are missing what it is at the moment.

Without a standard there can be no judgment of good, bad or indifferent. Technically from an atheist's view point your life just is. But you aren't totally looking at life from an atheist's vew, deep down you know there is more to life, but at the same time you are refusing to look at what gives life meaning.

So rather than wallowing in self-pity over the past choices that you made, why don't consider what the Bible has to offer you. Think about which worldview makes more sense logically.