Scary atheists…

17 Jan

A few years ago, the scariest person I could think of to speak to about Christian belief was a hardened atheist. Now, in the supreme wisdom of my 30’s the person I least want to encounter is someone who just doesn’t care at all. Next in line is the ‘soft’ atheist. Unlike their more well read comrades*, they have aligned themselves with a worldview which they have not explored or tried to falsify.

I've never heard of the Kalam, moral or teleological arguments for God's existence - but I'm definitely an atheist.

I’ve never heard of the Kalam, moral or teleological arguments for God’s existence – but I’m definitely an atheist.

I spoke with a guy like this who majored in History and kept reverting to “well, I’m an atheist” every time I asked him a question. He said he was very evidence based in his outlook and I asked what evidence he had encountered that made God’s existence so unlikely and he didn’t really have anything. So I tried a new tactic.

About halfway through the conversation I explained that every worldview needs to deliver the goods on (a) where we came from, (b) why things are the way they are, and (c) what happens when we die. [This is a very rudimentary summation]. Christianity says God, sin, and heaven or hell to those things respectively. For the atheist it goes chance, chance, dirt.

I asked about the human desire for significance in light of this ‘truth’ of atheism and his answer was interesting. He said that every day has more significance now that he has embraced atheism because there are a very limited number of them. I understand the logic, but countered that for the theist every day has increased significance because of its role in the present AND in eternity**.

I don’t know if this was a helpful direction, the conversation meandered for a few more minutes and then ended – but I definitely like the idea of shifting the conversation AWAY from the evidential side with folks who have not considered very many options or possibilities. Instead of me educating him on both my beliefs and his as well, we were at least able to speak about something meaningful to both of us and he was able to contribute. Consider a shift in tactics next time you’re talking to an atheist who doesn’t have many reasons for his belief, and don’t let them get away with hiding behind the title. We are expected to give logical and convincing reasons for our strange belief that Jesus was resurrected, so the atheist should be required to make a case for his strange belief that the universe and everything in it is a byproduct of random chance.

*[UPDATE] I want to emphasize that most people who self-identify as atheists are in fact well informed, bright and generally agreeable people. My issue here is with folks who have adopted this worldview without deliberation (an issue I addressed from the Christian perspective in my last post, here).

**I know that this is not a lock, stock and smoking barrel case – and even if it is, the idea that theism gives more significance to each individual day does not impact how true it is. However, it does make me want it to be true and give me greater cause to investigate the truth claims.

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