One Thing Atheists and Christians Can Agree On

One Thing Atheists and Christians Can Agree On

 

No doubt many have run into an atheist who is adamant about the non-existence of God (usually, in a more specific sense, the Judaeo-Christian God of the Bible). Whether it is all religions or just Christianity in general, they tend to reject what they believe is blind faith and fairy tales. Of course, they are entitled to their opinion. And there is no small shortage of satirical and philosophical rhetoric that some of them use to “refute” the existence of God. But, if you pay attention to the arguments they use to defame, blaspheme, and misalign God, there is one thing that Christians can agree with them on – the god they believe doesn’t exist really doesn’t.

A Strawman Argument is a logical fallacy that someone sets up as a misrepresentation, exaggeration, or complete fabrication of someone else’s position in order to make their own argument seem more reasonable. In this case, many atheists misrepresent their understanding of God/gods and portray them in such a way as to make their own argument seem reasonable, logical, and justified. But, in doing so, they not only set up a strawman, but they commit the most common and widely violated of all sins – idolatry. How? Well, it’s simple.

Anytime you hear an atheist speak, you will usually hear them mock God’s love in contrast to His justice (hell). Or misrepresent His “inability” to answer prayer. Or maybe you might hear how they don’t agree with Him creating intelligent human beings, yet require them to use “faith” to trust in Him (as if faith is absolutely blind). These are just a few of the many. But even if there is an answer to every misrepresentation they have about God, the most important thing is to reveal that although they don’t believe in God, they have inevitably made one up in their own mind! They have set up a divine strawman by which they can reason against over and over so that they can justify their suppression of the truth (Rom 1:8). So even though atheists may suppress the knowledge of God, and know that the true God of the Bible exists, in order for them to ease their conscience and justify their sin, they must create an image of god that suits themselves. A god that that they can deny, vilify, and reject by the approval of their own thoughts and imaginations. Most of their arguments do not work if they don’t do this. Whether you set up a idol to worship to go to war with, it is still idolatry.

Hopefully this strikes you as a much different approach then just providing scientific evidence for God’s existence. This is a mixed approach between revealing their sin and pressupostionally showing them another reason how and why they reject God. Next time you hear a false representation of God, you should disarm the atheist by telling them something like this, “Boy, I’m glad that the god that you are talking about doesn’t exist, because if he did, I would be an atheist too.” Because when you really get down to the nitty-gritty, what atheists do is exchange the truth of God for a lie (Rom 1:25) just like everyone else who does not know Him. And since eternal life is defined by knowing Christ intimately (John 17:3), other than the fact that the typical atheist is just suppressing the truth in unrighteousness, we must engage them by showing them that they are just like every other religion in the world (yes, atheism is a religion) that believes in false gods. Except theirs is just a deified punching bag that they can throw philosophical blows at in order to make themselves feel superior, more intelligent, and morally justified in their sin.

While other world religions offer sacrifice to their gods in order to appease them, atheists repeatedly sacrifice their false representation of God on the altar of reason, logic, and scientific method (systems of thinking our Lord Jesus Christ gave them) in order to appease themselves.  But hey, at least now when we speak to atheists, Christians can agree that the god they are talking about truly doesn’t exist. Because once they are introduced to the God of the Bible, Jesus Christ, and are regenerated by His Spirit, they will no longer speak defiantly, but devotedly; no longer with a heart of war, but of worship.

Let’s pray for the atheists that we witness to and bring the light of the gospel to them.

Below is an quick example on dealing with these kinds of atheists in conversation.

-Until we go home

 

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Disclaimer: DefCon does not support Peter Kreeft. Only the quote used in the link window.

Why God Won’t Go Away

Why God Won’t Go Away by Alister McGrath

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 In his book, Why God Won’t Go Away, Alister McGrath acquaints his reader with “new atheism”, a term apparently coined in 2006. He identifies four well-known atheists (Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, Sam Harris, and Christopher Hitchens) with this philosophy, telling us how it got started, what’s new about it, what characterizes it, and how we as Christians should respond to it. As we read through this book, we find that there’s about as much “new” in new atheism as there is in new age – it’s an age-old false view of creation that unrighteous men use to suppress the knowledge of Truth that our Creator has put into His creation (Romans 1:18). The common element in this view, advocated by these high profile professing atheists, is a condescending attitude toward Christianity. Much ink has been spilled by these men trying to dissuade people from believing in the One Who created all things and people. Books such as The God Delusion and The End of Faith, as if there could be a human that could live on this earth without having faith in something – even if only that the chair would hold up when sat upon. These men tend to lump all professed religions together in an effort to “prove” God cannot exist because He is full of contradictions. No matter that the Word of God reveals that man creates and worships and serves all sorts of false gods and calls some of by the name of the one true God.

Hitchens admits he is not merely unconvinced of God’s existence, but that he is more an anti-theist than an atheist. McGrath quotes a humanist chaplain from Harvard, who defines anti-theism this way: “While atheism is the lack of belief in any god, anti-theism means actively seeking out the worst aspects of faith in god and portraying them as representative of all religion. Anti-theism seeks to shame and embarrass people away from religion, browbeating them about the stupidity of belief in a bellicose god.” People whose focus is on tearing down their enemies tend to lose all sense of perspective and end up redefining who they are by their irrational inability to allow Christians to believe what they want to.

Chapter 3 is a provoking look at a history full of violence committed by professing Christians, which gives a high road of condescension to the anti-atheists. Ah, but we also get a look at the history of bloodshed at the hands of atheists – this proving what Christians know to be biblical truth: all men are capable of hideous acts. The Lord God of Heaven restrains sinful men so that very few are as bad as they might be and His Spirit leads the redeemed to desire holiness rather than the sinful desires of the flesh.

Next up, the enlightenment is still going strong, as our anti-atheists worship at the altar of human wisdom. We learn here why it is hopeless to try and argue an anti-atheist into the kingdom of God – it’s hopeless to try and argue anyone into the Kingdom of God. Men are born again, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God. We should not be tempted to argue with lost people over facts related to the gospel – they are at war with God and He alone can give a man with a heart of stone understanding and love for Him. The intellect of the anti-atheists blinds them to the Truth, and only the Author of Truth can give him sight.

Where McGrath departs from his call as a gospel minister is in the last chapter. He heralds Mother Teresa and declares his desire to emulate her. This woman is held up by many as a model Christian, but she made it clear many times that she did not even try to convert anyone to Christ; she thought God would be pleased and save as many as tried to be good Hindus, Buddhists, or whatever false religion one was following. This is not the model for any Christian. McGrath talks around the gospel and then states that he “cannot pursue this matter further here.” He does, however, make note that “Christian beliefs, like those of the New Atheism or any other worldview, ultimately lie beyond final rational proof.” Amen! And this is why worldly wisdom is foolishness and why we must trust God and be unashamed of His gospel and willing to be thought of as fools for Christ because we will not retreat from His Word. This book would have ended much better if McGrath would have spent three pages explaining the biblical answer to the anti-atheists – those enemies of God have no other place to go if they want truthful answers to their questions.

“Evolution vs. God” by Ray Comfort

Evolution_vs._God You may have heard the rumblings on the internet that atheists are aghast at Ray Comfort’s newest film, Evolution vs. God. Their weeping and gnashing of teeth comes with good reason for Ray kicks out the legs of their worldview with one simple question, “Can you show me evidence for Darwinian evolution that I do not have to accept by faith?” This film takes professing evolutionary experts and their students to task by causing them to admit that the evolutionary theory is not provable by operational science. It demonstrates that evolutionary theory, at its heart, is really nothing more than a concerted effort to cause man to reject the knowledge of God that he already has so that he may pursue the sinful desires of his flesh. I highly encourage DefCon readers to take the time to watch this film, then go to www.evolutionvsgod.com and help support getting this film into the hands of university students across the country.

This is how good God is!

The video you are about to see is Todd Friel of Wretched Radio speaking to a group of atheist students, among others, at a college. It is part of a video titled “Wretched Worldview: Atheism – A Christian Response.” Todd gives a wonderful picture of the gospel in this video as he pleads with the atheists in the auditorium to repent and trust in Jesus Christ. I ask you to watch this and observe how we as Christians can compassionately and lovingly share the gospel with anyone.

Wretched with Todd Friel

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Giving Themselves Away

At the end of the story, after the student defeats his professor in the debate, it is revealed that the student is Albert Einstein. In actuality, there was probably no such debate, and this certainly isn’t a true story about Albert Einstein.

While it is an interesting tale, I don’t think this is the best answer Christians can offer to the problem of evil.

The objection the professor presented is sometimes known as Epicurean paradox.

Is God willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him God

To answer the objection above by saying that evil doesn’t really exist rubs me the wrong way. To look in the face of someone who has suffered something terrible and tell them it wasn’t evil—only a lack of good—is something I couldn’t do.

Rather, I would agree with the angry atheist presenting this paradox that evil truly exists. (Note that he didn’t merely state that he dislikes acts such as rape and murder, or that a majority of society dislikes those things, but that there really is evil.)

Next, I would point out that evil cannot exist in his worldview. The existence of evil can only be accounted for if there are moral absolutes—and moral absolutes can only be established by God. If, as an atheist would say, we are merely evolved apes, there shouldn’t be any moral absolutes. Therefore, evil wouldn’t exist if there were no God.

When the atheist presents this objection, he is revealing that he can’t be consistent with his worldview. If he were consistent, all the atheist has to go on is personal taste. But in admitting a firm belief in evil, he is acknowledging that he knows moral absolutes exist and there is a God. He is giving himself away.

Atheists claim the existence of evil all the time. One young lady I spoke with said Christians are evil. I explained to her that in order for evil to exist that God had to have established moral absolutes. She said she believes morality is relative, and each of us can establish our own morality. I think she was being consistent with her atheism at this point. I specifically asked her if it was a sin for someone to violate her moral code, and she said it wasn’t. Mere moments later, she said that the Bible has been translated. (I assume she didn’t mean translated from Greek to English, but some  type of malicious tampering with the manuscripts.) I asked her if it was a sin to “translate” the Bible. At that point she made it abundantly clear she was no longer interested in talking to me.

Ultimately, the solution to the Epicurean paradox is that God has an adequate, moral reason for allowing evil. He may not reveal His reasoning for a specific situation, but ultimately it is for His glory.

Atheist hypocrisy (Part 2)

I frequently hear anti-theists lament the hypocrisy they see in the lives of professing Christians, oftentimes citing such hypocrisies as part of their reason for rejecting Christianity. But there is a glaring hypocrisy that frequently comes from the anti-theist camp that seems to escape their own notice. Although this hypocrisy is abundantly present in many of the anti-theist rants against Christianity, I have yet to see anyone bring attention to it. So allow me to point it out.

Anti-theists spend an inordinate amount of time devoted to expressing a hatred toward, and the mocking of a God they claim doesn’t exist (chew on the rationality of that for a while). They also spend a lot of time mocking Christians who actually live according to the principles set forth in Scripture; those Christians who strive to follow the commands of Christ.

So many times when an atheist sees a Christian being obedient to the commands of Christ (i.e. practice what they preach), they get mocked as “fuddy duddies,” “prudes,” and “fundies” by pretentious anti-theists.

Now the hypocrisy comes:

As soon as some anti-theists observe legitimate (or perceived) hypocrisy in the lives of pseudo-Christians, they wail that this somehow not only “proves” that God doesn’t exist, but that the behavior of these professing Christians justifies these anti-theists’ continued willful enmity toward God and Christianity.

“You Christians are hypocrites; you don’t practice what you preach, and that’ just another reason why I reject the existence of your God.”

So which is it, dear atheist? You can’t have it both ways. You can’t on the one hand accuse Christians of hypocrisy for not practicing what they preach, and then, on the other hand, mock them when they do.

To be consistent, if the professing Christian not practicing what the Bible teaches is one reason to reject Christianity, then wouldn’t the Christian practicing what the Bible teaches be one reason to embrace Christianity?

So I ask you this day, which would you rather see, Christians following their Lord’s commands, or those shallow, Sunday-only Christians who claim to follow Christ but who live just like you?

Choose this day who you’ll mock . . . then remain consistent.

See: Atheist Hypocrisy (Part 1) here.