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Answering Atheism

Discussion in 'General Discussions' started by LysanderShapiro, Feb 27, 2015.

  1. I've been reading a book lately called Answering Atheism: How To Make the Case for God with Logic and Charity. I highly recommend it.

    As I've been reading it, I was re-thinking how I've approached my discussion with Atheists and I wonder if I've gone about it the wrong way.

    Evangelism is provocative and can be offensive, but sometimes I think the way some of us approach it, we almost intend for offensiveness to take place rather than just allowing the truth to unfold, whether people are offended or not.

    Atheists (especially so many in this generation who fall under the New Atheism category) can be very aggressive and hostile and downright snarky when it comes to their addressing religion. The leading voices (Dawkins and Harris for example) have said very blatantly that Atheists SHOULD try to be aggressive and even mean-spirited. Though looking back on how I've addressed it, I wonder if I've responded the same way, even if it has been unintentional.

    What books would I hand to my Atheist friends that offer the argument's for God's existence? Many of them I've picked up have come off kind of mean-spirited too.

    While Christianity isn't solely focused on feelings, our understanding of people is one thing that makes Christianity unique. After all, God was understanding that He had to reach out to us through His Son to save us since He knew we weren't capable of reaching to Him on our own.

    Anyway, I recommend this book. It's incredibly well-written. Answering Atheism by Trent Horn.

    What are your thoughts? Has there ever been a time where you felt even with good intentions your approach could have been better? Do you sometimes confuse boldness with hostility?
    Man-ofGod, KingJ and Abdicate says Amen and like this.
  2. I try to use a light touch when dealing with the heathens. I've seen too many pushy "evangelists" that do more to paint Christians as self righteous idiots than actually change minds.
    A good start is the question "what is reality? and why do you hold the opinions you do about reality?"
    You will find that most atheists have very little notion of why they feel the way they do, and no "facts" to be up their assertions either.

    Atheism is the claim that the world is a perfectly rational place, when all the evidence points to the exact opposite.
  3. I think there's always a place for directness and boldness, but I do think you're right that so often, there is a slippery slope that leads people to a different conclusion when evangelists speak.

    Yes, one great approach is to approach it as saying "What is reality? How do we narrow it down and what is the criteria?" That's usually one of the best places to begin.
  4. Stats are good, at least it shows you know what you're talking about, but a heart not prepared won't listen to reason, indeed they cannot, it's gibberish to them, a foreign language. I liked "More than a Carpenter" :)
    LysanderShapiro likes this.
  5. That's something I was thinking about recently. Many people won't want to listen to reason and so they will reject God for it, but we would remember that just because many people do means that everyone who currently does always will. There have been many incredible Christian voices who came from Atheism (even some on this forum).

    It's VERY unlikely that when engaging with an Atheism that he will have a eureka moment and say "Wait...Atheism is silly -- I'm a theist." I can't remember who gave this illustration (I think it was G.K. Chesterton), but his example of discovering God was like not recognizing your own aging. We don't go to bed and wake up the next morning, look in the mirror, and get shocked at how much we've aged since it's a gradual process. Although we may look at a photograph from years ago and notice how much we've changed over time. This is why we recognize the importance of planting seeds I suppose.

    I think a good place to begin with Atheists is encouraging them to consider what we mean by God rather than what many of them misunderstand what we mean by God. And for many of us Christians in fact, we should consider the differences between what Atheism is vs. Nihilism or even Agnosticism -- most of us know the difference, but the language has changed as many Agnostics do use the title Atheist. But even with Agnostics, there are differences within that as some are strong Agnostics ("I don't know if God exists and we can never kn0w) while others are weak Agnostics ("I don't know if God exists, but we are capable of finding out.")
    Abdicate likes this.
  6. If we are talking about approaching atheists at a personal level, I would go with the advice Ravi Zacharias once gave.. When we talk with a person, we cannot look at it as simply a dialogue.. We should look at making connection with the person.. The situation they are in.. We are not there to oppose everything they believe in.. We should be there to understand what they are going through and give a different perspective, which is centered on Christ.. That might be the best way to approach atheists..
    Cturtle and LysanderShapiro say Amen and like this.
  7. Thanks for the recommendation! I need to check this out :)
    LysanderShapiro likes this.
  8. You're totally correct. It's all about love.
  9. If the "grace" of God that brings salvation has appeared to ALL men, and that ALL men know the difference between good, and evil, because we inherited this from Adam, and Eve when they ate from the three of the knowledge of good and evil. Then we have all of creation testifying and declaring the Glory of God. There should be no convincing needed when speaking to a "Atheist". Light has shined and has come but men love darkness rather than lite because their deeds are evil. When you speak the Word of God to anyone, they know what you are saying it true, because God has already showed it to them. Breaking through the darkness by the Spirit of God and letting them see Christ in you is the only way to draw a man to God. They want to see reality in our life, not just words!

    1Jn 5:10 He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.

    Rom 1:18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness;
    Rom 1:19 Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them.
    Rom 1:20 For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse:
    KingJ likes this.
  10. I have stopped answering atheists, because they are stubborn and they will not change. However, some of them might actually be willing to follow Jesus, but this is rare.
  11. Juk, before I became a Christian, I worked for a company where I saw two guys working in another department. I never met them, and they never said two words to me, but I could see the Glory of God streaming from them. I was reading their life like a book without ever meeting them. The Bible tells us.....

    2Co 3:2 Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men:

    These two guys where living epistles. The Word of God had become flesh in them, and the light, and water of God was streaming from within them. I saw that light and tasted the water flowing. These two guys are more instrumental to me receiving Jesus as my savior than all the other people preaching the gospel. Remembering those days, I can still see their faces like it was yesterday.
    I saw the reality of Christ in them, and it touched my heart. Living the Word is preaching the Gospel, and it speaks louder than any words.
    Cturtle, KingJ, Waggles and 1 other person say Amen and like this.
  12. Thank God for those men! I do agree that our faith should shine through us, and it will. But what I am saying is that generally, talking about God and whether He exists or not is a waste of time when talking to atheists, because they think the Bible is foolishness. I read that a couple of days ago.
  13. If the Lord leads you, yes speak to them by all means! Most of the time they will come to you and ask you questions about why you have the hope you do.

    1Pe 3:14 But and if ye suffer for righteousness' sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled;
    1Pe 3:15 But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:

    Walking in the Spirit is just like breathing. You don't think about it, it just happens. Yes, of course we can sense the anointing on us all the time. It feels natural, but it is not natural, it is supernatural. I can not tell how many times I have walked over and said something to a person, and they get all teared up, and look at me wondering how I knew that. I was just being myself, yet the Spirit of God works through his Church, if they are willing to be led. It is so much fun!!! There is nothing like it.
    Cturtle and Juk say Amen and like this.
  14. That sounds amazing. I can't wait for it to happen to me! But it is not yet time.
  15. I have no doubts you will. No man is born full grown. Growing in the Lord takes time. Having a "history" with the Lord, and being able to look back to see how he brought to where you are now, will amaze you. His education course for you has been custom made by him from the beginning. He is our teacher, and we do not choose our course study, he does. Just keep coming before his presence through prayer, and he will approve everything he teaches you, and you will never be ashamed of it.
    Cturtle and Juk say Amen and like this.
  16. Many are, but then again, so am I.

    I actually had a wonderful conversation with an atheist last night at our local watering hole. I figured no one would be converting, but by the end of the conversation he said that while he still doesn't believe in God, he can understand where theists are coming from when they say they do. At the beginning of the conversation, he said God was no more logical than te Flying Spaghetti Monster (a concept made up by Dawkins to illustrate God's illogical existence).

    Not trying to toot my own horn, but I think a big reason was because, as a Christian, I offered him the respect in his thought process that I would have wanted...and that came from the Grace of God.
    Juk likes this.
  17. That's actually something I think we often disregard Atheists on -- while they can't justify goodness and morality (they can't claim why helping a friend is good or why it's important to show your family unconditional love) they do know goodness and morality and many of them do practice it.

    They may choose darkness, but we are supposed to be light bearers. Many times, I wonder if I've misspoke on Atheists and have discarded them as lost causes too much. I've almost treated it as "If God wants then to convert, He will do if." God has wanted them to convert from the very start, and each of us may be the only representation of Christ they will ever get.
  18. Atheists sometimes cannot grasp the wonders of God and thus do not partake in religion of any kind.
    Before I turned to God many years ago, I was Atheist then converted to Buddhism.
    Buddhism is completely different but wasn't right for me...God eventually spoke to me, I followed, got ordained and here I am today.

    I like to think of faith as a gift and some yet have to receive it.
  19. I think atheists just need to know Jesus more. They get turned off by God, religion, they cant read the bible, also, they harboring sins they just dont think they can be forgiven cos not willing to humble themselves.

    i just found that, when dealing with atheists, they want to talk to me and envious of my faith, cos they know they dont have it. When told it is a free gift, many dont want to believe it is true cos they may have been taught in a church that you need to pay for it.

    But it really comes down to they need to be willing to give up their unbelief and simply believe.

    Pray God works on their hearts, opens their ears and eyes and I am certain Gods word will not return back empty.

    Dont argue with them, just show them love. Dont ask questions and keep annoying them, just let them ask you and be drawn to the spirit of christ that you shine in their hearts.
    Juk likes this.
  20. #20 LysanderShapiro, Feb 28, 2015
    Last edited: Feb 28, 2015
    I don't necessarily agree with everything you said, but I think there's also merit to some of what you said too. Being an example of love is a key place to start, even if they will never return it.

    Half of the Atheists I've met have read the Bible and are quite good at quoting Scripture, but of course they don't know much of the context they are quoting. But ultimately, I think there's a huge disconnect when Christians speak with Atheists and Atheists speak with Christians. The amount of presupposing that takes places when it happens is astounding.

    I think a fair amount of Atheists (though mostly Agnostics) are very bright and really are trying to get to know the truth. I think those who really do take knowing the truth seriously can find God through their search. I think we as Christians have a responsibility to ask if we've fallen flat in our attempt to reach them. Atheism is a huge growing trend, and many of them have turned to Atheism just because they read a specific book or even watched a series of videos on YouTube. The Internet has even been called the Church of Atheism because so many of them have turned to Atheism through it.

    Most times when Atheists ask me questions, they aren't asking because they are genuinely curious -- they often ask because they want to see me fail at answering and want me to stop believing in "an imaginary friend." For those types, when I ask them questions instead, the discussion is more likely to go from "How can I show him he's wrong?" to "What do we each believe and what can we find out together?"

    I actually empathize with non-believers sometimes because in the culture we live in and with so much trouble in the world, it can be difficult see an all-loving, all-knowing God. In fact, I think the strongest argument against God is that for a personal God to be real, he would have to be the height of perfection and goodness. But when we have innocent children who die everyday and other horrible things, would a loving God let them just happen when he COULD intervene? If He doesn't, is that not loving? And if not, would God not be all-loving? And if he wouldn't be, then perhaps a personal God doesn't exist -- at most, a non-personal God meaning deists are right, but theists are wrong.

    Of course there's a good response to why bad things happen to good people, but I think it's a good question and a strong argument against theism which is why I think perhaps, in western society, we as Christians should re-think our dialog with them. Are we dismissing the discussion too often? Do we shrug it off more than we should?
    shineyourlight8 and Juk say Amen and like this.

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