I have a couple questions that are generally vague concerning God.
1.) Why is it that when I pray it seems as if I am talking to no one? Usually during prayer in a private space there is just silence and no indication of any connection with some sort of immaterial creator being of the universe present.
2.) Is it wrong for a Theistic Christian to be an Agnostic Theist who is open to the possibility of there being no god?
3.) Doesn’t it seem that Heaven and Hell are just concepts which humans have designated as mandatory since there must be some sort of justice system in the after life? I feel as if Heaven and Hell are fabrications of the human mind that demand justice no matter what realm we may exist in, physical or spiritual.
So that sums up all three questions I have. Thanks for any insight.
Your questions are classic ones for a person who believes in God but who is having a lot of doubt. First of all, you are certainly not alone, and second, you should not feel bad or somehow ungodly for having doubts. All of us have doubts, and the question is how do we deal with them. You have successfully made it to first base on dealing with doubts, which is to admit them and ask for help with the doubts.
The theme of my response will come from Hebrews 11:1. Faith is belief in things unseen. There is plenty of evidence, both for the reality of a Creator/God and for the inspiration and basic truthfulness of the Bible. The fact that the universe was created points toward the reality of a Creator. The fantastic fine-tuning of the universe, with the mind-boggling precision of the gravity force, amount of electrical charge, size of the electronic force and many more proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there is an intelligent Creator. The existence of life proves beyond a reasonable doubt that there is a supernatural intelligent creator of that life. That the Bible is the result of the work of that Creator is also clear from the fulfillment of messianic prophecy, the scientific reliability of the scripture, the wisdom of the Christian world view and many, many more all support this. I want to ask you to consider picking up a copy of my book “Reasons for Belief” at www.ipibooks.com if you are not well acquainted with this evidence.
That God exists and that the Bible is true and is from God is clear from the evidence. Yet, these facts do not make all doubts go away. Another fact is that you cannot see God and he is not in the habit of dropping notes out of the sky or speaking to us with an audible voice when we pray. Therefore, to pray is an act of faith, almost by definition. I assume you do not expect God to answer your prayers with an audible voice. All of us, I am sure, are tempted to think what you are thinking which is we wonder if we are really just talking to ourselves. Let me assure you that you are not. God hears our prayers. John 11:41-42 is an assurance from Jesus that God hears our prayers, and he should know because he is the Son of God and he raised Lazarus from the dead right after he voiced this prayer. John 14:11-14 and 1 John 5:14 are further assurance from the inspired Word of God that he hears us. Remember, though, that it always will require faith when we pray. I wish I could make it different for you, but that is the case.
It is NOT wrong for you to be open to the possibility that there is no God. You cannot and neither should you force yourself to believe. Believe it or not, strong faith requires a certain level of skepticism. If we are not willing to question why we believe, then how can we uncover the evidence and the reason for belief. I have always found that my investigation of my own doubts have strengthened not weakened my faith. You should NOT feel guilty for having doubts, but you should be at least willing to accept the evidence, and if the evidence is there, you should be willing to act on that evidence and put your faith in God. I believe that the evidence for the resurrection of Jesus is sufficient for you to, first of all look at that evidence, but then to act on what is the most reasonable conclusion, which is that Jesus was resurrected and that you can reasonable put your faith in him. This does not mean you stop asking questions and that you simply blindly believe, but it means being willing to go where the evidence points and to put faith on where that evidence points. In the end, we must act. We must act on what we believe or we will find our lives having no direction. Be sufficiently skeptical that you can reach some conclusion, but then have to courage to act on those convictions. This has worked for me. We cannot stay in the paralysis of analysis forever.
Heaven and Hell are NOT just concepts. They are real. The reason I know this (I am speaking personally now) is that the Bible, which is clearly inspired by God and Jesus who clearly is the source of truth say that heaven and hell are real. Jesus, who raised Lazarus from the dead, who walked on water who fulfilled dozens of messianic prophecies and who was himself raised from the dead said “In my Father’s house there are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am.” (John 14:2-4). Jesus also talked about hell. These places are not mere human constructs. They are real. How do I know this? By faith. But by faith in something which I can truly trust in, which is in the words of Jesus of Nazareth who was God-in-the-flesh. I cannot blame you at all for having this thought that these are just made up by people to control behaviour and to create moral lives, but they are NOT just inventions of people trying to control others. They are real because God told us they are real in his scripture.
I hope this helps.