How Should We Respond to Atheism?

Before we discuss anything, we need to make one thing clear, atheists are not our enemies.

They are people just like you and me who simply happen to have beliefs that differ from ours.

That doesn’t make them bad people, just different people.

So often in our rush to defend our faith from the criticism of non-believers, we impulsively demonize them and belittle them because we feel naturally threatened.

Mark 12:30-31 are very clear,

30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength. 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’There is no commandment greater than these.”

It’s the pious and self-absorbed aura of people who claim to practice Christianity that makes it seem more like a stuck up cult following than the intimate relationship with God that it is supposed to be.

And that’s just wrong.

Regardless of who they are and what they believe, atheists are still our brothers and sisters and we should always strive to treat them with the love, understanding, and respect that they deserve.

In other words, we’re the children of God, so act like it.

 

In our response to atheism, we must first understand its underlying cause in order to determine the best and most respectful way combat it.

We can safely conclude one thing about all atheists, regardless of their reason being so or their current conflicting views with the message of Christianity, they all believe that they can live without the need for a god.

I say a god and not the God because the reality is that amidst a world of numerous different religions such as Hinduism, Buddhism, or Islam which each offer robust and dignified ways of approaching life, Christianity is just one of many options.

With this in mind, all we need to properly and respectfully combat the practice of atheism is to convince atheists that they both do need the guidance of a god and that only the Christian God can give them the guidance that they need.

Now, this does not imply that we should go out of our way to pester and hound each and every atheist we see in with the hope to convert them as doing that would only serve to support the self-righteous and holier-than-thou stereotype that we Christians are known for.

Rather, think of this as a shield that can protect your emotions whenever you are confronted with atheist beliefs so that rather than allow these attacks to hurt you and, soon after, motivate you to hurt back, you can instead remain both calm and clear-headed and rebuttal with dignity and grace, qualities every Christian should always be mindful to demonstrate.

In the end, none of us have the power to make anyone believe anything.

However, if we can resolve the questions and doubts that atheists have against our faith, we can do the work of the Lord not by converting them then and there (though I’m not saying that can’t happen), but rather by opening the door for them to choose God for themselves.

Atheists are rational and reasonable human beings, they are not simple-minded animals.

Therefore it will take time for many atheists to come to accept God because it takes time to give up a belief you have held onto for a long time.

Make that a reality and don’t assault atheists’ to convert every moment you get the opportunity, it’s disrespectful to their reason but more than that, it can never lead anyone into the love of God, only into the hatred of Christians.

 

With this in mind, let’s delve a bit deeper into one of the main arguments that atheists make to justify their lack of a need for a god which is the argument that there is no God in the first place.

To answer this question in the case of Christianity, we this means we need to do specifically is provide hard evidence that Jesus Christ both lived and rose from the dead, the foundation of the Christian faith.

If we can prove Jesus lived and rose, we can then prove that because no human man is capable of bringing himself back to life, there must have been some supernatural force at work that is beyond human comprehension and hence, we prove that there is a God.

 

Now you are probably thinking that we could easily do this if we just used the Bible to prove this point and you would be right in making that assumption if we were responding to an open-minded audience.

However, atheists are not very open minded when it comes to believing religious doctrine (hence their atheism) and therefore, you can not use the Bible to prove to an atheist that God exists.

If you don’t believe me, let’s see how this conversation plays out,

Christian: Hey you! start believing in God right now!

Atheist: No way! In fact, I’m pretty sure he doesn’t even exist.

Christian: Of course he does! I have evidence for it!

Atheist: Ok, what is it?

Christian: He said he does!

Atheist: …

Get the picture?

You can’t use the word of God as proof that God exists to a person that doesn’t believe in a god.

If someone doesn’t believe in the person of God, the words of God will only come across to him as nonsense.

It bothers me how many Christians think that shouting scripture about hell and never-ending punishment to a person that doesn’t believe in either of those things is in any way a good idea.

Truth be told, such actions cause Christians to come across as nothing more than hysterical idiots to atheists will only serve to push them away from the belief of love of God even more.

This cycle of ignorance and hatred that NEEDS to stop NOW.

 

Therefore what I’m about to offer now is tangible and factual evidence for the foundation of our faith so that if you ever find yourself confronted by an atheist, you will be able to tell him something that will both make sense and speak his language of tangible evidence and reason.

With this in mind, let’s have a history lesson.

 

Enter Publius Cornelius Tacitus, he was a senator and historian of the Roman Empire way back in the mid 100s AD.

One very important fact about Tacitus was that being a Roman official, he was in no way a Christian and his only loyalty was to his Roman Government.

Even though he was, again, not Christian, we can still find something very useful for the case of Christianity in one of his many records of Roman history which are kept in his set of writings called The Annals.

In The Annals, Tacitus records the history of the Roman Empire from the years of 14 to 68 AD which was roughly from the reign of Tiberius to that of the infamous Nero himself.

Though he wrote 16 books in total, let’s take a look at book 15 chapter 44 and see if we find any uncanny coincidences that might be beneficial to our case.

Remember, he was not Christian and this document has been historically authenticated.

Look only at the bold and underlined portions.

44
Such indeed were the precautions of human wisdom. The next thing was to seek means of propitiating the gods, and recourse was had to the Sibylline books, by the direction of which prayers were offered to Vulcanus, Ceres, and Proserpina. Juno, too, was entreated by the matrons, first, in the Capitol, then on the nearest part of the coast, whence water was procured to sprinkle the fane and image of the goddess. And there were sacred banquets and nightly vigils celebrated by married women. But all human efforts, all the lavish gifts of the emperor, and the propitiations of the gods, did not banish the sinister belief that the conflagration was the result of an order. Consequently, to get rid of the report, Nero fastened the guilt and inflicted the most exquisite tortures on a class hated for their abominations, called Christians by the populace. Christus, from whom the name had its origin, suffered the extreme penalty during the reign of Tiberius at the hands of one of our procurators, Pontius Pilatus, and a most mischievous superstition, thus checked for the moment, again broke out not only in Judaea, the first source of the evil, but even in Rome, where all things hideous and shameful from every part of the world find their centre and become popular. Accordingly, an arrest was first made of all who pleaded guilty; then, upon their information, an immense multitude was convicted, not so much of the crime of firing the city, as of hatred against mankind. Mockery of every sort was added to their deaths. Covered with the skins of beasts, they were torn by dogs and perished, or were nailed to crosses, or were doomed to the flames and burnt, to serve as a nightly illumination, when daylight had expired. Nero offered his gardens for the spectacle, and was exhibiting a show in the circus, while he mingled with the people in the dress of a charioteer or stood aloft on a car. Hence, even for criminals who deserved extreme and exemplary punishment, there arose a feeling of compassion; for it was not, as it seemed, for the public good, but to glut one man’s cruelty, that they were being destroyed.

Did you catch the mention of that Christus fellow?

Seems as if its the name “Christ” but in Greek, but maybe that’s just a coincidence?

It says this Christus guy “suffered the extreme penalty” under one of Roman’s officials.

Extreme penalty huh, almost as though if he were, oh I don’t know, crucified on a cross maybe?

No no no this must also be just another coincidence, it has to be, right?

But who’s the guy that was said to have killed Jesus?

Oh, “Pontius Pilatus” I see.

So let’s put this all together.

There WAS a man named Christ who WAS convicted by Pontius Pilatus (Greek for Pontius Pilate) and WAS tortured and killed in Roman custody.

Hmm, where have we heard that before?

*Cough* John 19 *cough*.

Oh, and what’s this?

Following his death, he someone gained a multitude of followers that were called “Christians”?

How could that have happened?

Is there any possible explanation?

I mean it’s not like people react to a crucifixion in this manner all the time in ancient Rome right?

There must have been a reason.

And a good reason at that, it says here that they were horrendously killed and tortured, the author even says that he felt sorry for them.

Why would a group of people sacrifice themselves like that to honor the death of just one man?

It must be the case the that this Christ guy was no ordinary man and that to those people, he was worth dying for.

So there was a man named Christ who was tried and crucified (just as the Bible says) and thereafter, a large group of people called Christians rose up and started making a ruckus in the Roman Empire (again just as the Bible says).

The existence of Jesus and the event of his crucifixion are the pillars of the New Testament Bible.

Therefore, the only conclusion we can make on this matter is that the New Testament Bible, which concerns the life of Jesus, is true because there was, in fact, a man named Jesus who was crucified and whose name was cemented on the new religion that sprung up in ancient Rome called Christianity.

 

The only case left to prove is that Jesus did rise from the grave and while there is no non-biblical evidence for this, we have just proven that the New Testament Bible is a credible source of ancient history as it coincides with ancient Roman history on the existence of Jesus Christ, the death of Jesus Christ, and the emergence of Christianity.

It helps to know that the New Testament Bible is composed of unaltered fragment of writings which are many hundreds of years old, which is to say, the New Testament Bible is just as historically credible as the The Annals because though many of the fragments that compose the NT aren’t dated to have been written within a hundred years of the death of Jesus, they still match up with the Roman history depicted in The Annals perfectly yet simultaneously explain how the advent of Christianity came develop within the Roman Empire.

Thus, we have proven the credibility of the NT Bible to even the most staunch non-believer in a way that he can understand, hard fact.

And because the NT Bible says he rose up, and we know the NT Bible is historically credible, We have no choice but to accept that Jesus really did come back from the grave just as he predicted he would in Mark 8:31, Luke 18:31-33, and Matthew 16:21.

Not only this, buts since we have determined that the NT Bible is an accurate source of historical information (because ALL fragments that compose the NT Bible are just as authentic as the ones that coincide with the Roman accounts of the life of Jesus as proven by both accredited theologians and historians alike all around the world), the Christian faith, and therefore the existence of God, are therefore historically and factually proven true.

 

Here’s a link of all discovered NT fragments

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_New_Testament_papyri

Here’s a link to the biography of Tacitus if you’re curious,

https://www.thoughtco.com/tacitus-roman-historian-119063

And, because I like evidence I can see just as much as everyone else here’s a picture of The Annals book 15 chapter 44 which directly translates to the text above.

1280px-MII.png

But if you want even more information of Jesus’ historical existence incidence (because believe me, there are lots), check out this link,

http://coldcasechristianity.com/2014/is-there-any-evidence-for-jesus-outside-the-bible/

 

We’re Christians, that means that not only God but history is own our side, the side of truth.

With all this in mind, treat not only atheists but all those with the love, understanding, and respect that they deserve.

At the end of the day, evidence can always change our minds, but it can never change our hearts.

Despite the information we may have, the simple case may be that a person won’t choose God simply because of some hardship or pain that his followers have brought him all his life.

An atheist will never want to be apart of a group that hurt and shunned him all his life even if deep down he knew they were right and there was a God.

And you know what?

I wouldn’t either.

So in short, your on the winning team by following God and that means you need to carry yourself like a winner and treat your neighbors with respect and consideration.

The simple fact is that confrontations with atheists require us to do what God asks us to do (be that through presenting  hard facts like these or by giving the testimony of our personal experience with him) and then to be patient enough to step back and let God do the rest.

 

I want Christianity to be the caring and loving institution I know it can be.

But that means that us Christians need to stop associating our hatred, ignorance, and intolerance with the love, understanding, and patience of God.

So to all of Christianity, I say this, let’s do better, but not for the goodness of ourselves but for the goodness of God, the world is counting on us.

 

Inspired by “The Case For Christ” I highly recommend it!

 

Thanks for Reading!

7 thoughts on “How Should We Respond to Atheism?

  1. It’s well known that Jesus was a historical person; but that doesn’t prove that Jesus is God; that Jesus (as God) flooded the world and killed off every single man, woman, child, and infant except for Noah’s family – it’s out of character to imagine Jesus ordering the Israelites to destroy the Canaanites’ property and slaying them all except for their virgin daughters which they can take as spoils of war to be their wives. It’s out of character to imagine Jesus as sending the ten plagues on Egypt. So yes, you can prove that Jesus existed – but that’s a leap from proving that He is God.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The God of the OT and Jesus are one in the same. The harsh reality of life is that sin leads to death. People who criticize the OT Bible often tend to not recognize that fact that the OT Bible often makes very clear. Burnt offerings were made as a way of repentance not for the sake of ceremony but for the reason that because even the children of God were inclined to commit sin, someone or something had to die. Jesus was our sacrifice in this context. Through his death, the rules did not change, rather they were appeased for our benefit. We don’t have to kill or pillage or die for the sake of our sins or the sins of others ever again, Jesus sacrificed himself for us so that God could rightfully forgive the sins of all mankind. Because the perfect sacrifice has been offered (and I do say “perfect” that because OT customs are very clear about the purity of Burt offerings), the God we once saw as the harsh OT we new see as the loving NT God because he doesn’t have to punish us with death for our sin’s anymore.

      Despite our change of opinion of him, he has never changed.

      Therefore since we can conclude that the OT God and the NT are one in the same, we can be assured that the Bible, again, has historical and factual validity. The Bible says Jesus was the Son of God, therefore, we can safely conclude that he was. To refute this you must refute the Bible which we now see has never contradicted itself in terms of history, human nature, or the person of God. No leap of faith required.

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      1. Following his crucifixion, all of the ancient Roman Empire acknowledged the possibility of its validity in the emergence of the followers of Jesus. It’s the context for the Roman text I used as my non-biblical proof. Rome acknowledged that there were radical new believers in the man named Jesus who the crucified. Of course, any Roman account would never know why Jesus had such a boom in popularity following his death as we know that the resurrected Jesus was only seen by a select few people before he disappeared. However, an explanation is necessary as to not only how this boom took place but also why so many Roman citizens saw fit to be persecuted and killed for their newfound belief in the man called Jesus.

        Here’s the problem with having proof outside of the Bible that explains these two things.

        If any such historical document were ever found that actually affirmed that Jesus was the son of God and that through his death, all may be saved, it would now be in the NT Bible, a library of ancient writings that were both written the closest to that time period (which makes them the most reliable) and the most explanatory of the gruesome death of Jesus as well as the emergence of his followers thereafter (were he not the Son of God and did not rise from the grave, he would have had no chance of gaining such a rapidly growing following in a polytheistic ancient society).

        Similarly, the persecution of his followers is a historical phenomenon that can not be explained by any text other than the Bible. This is the case because all other ancient texts besides those found in the Bible only criticize and observe early Christians and do not offer any sort of reasoning behind what they believe.

        Christians were outcasts in early AD, therefore, the claim of the Son of God would have been dismissed by early non-Christian historians as little more that complete nonsense.

        However because the Bible both fluidly and seamlessly answers the very real and very historical questions of why was a man named Jesus tortured and killed so brutally as well as why did a large following of people spring up in his name with the willingness to die for their belief in him, the explanation of the Bible is by far the most rational conclusion for us to accept.

        So to answer your question, I can prove that Jesus was the Son of God (and not God the Father as the Bible explains) because this reasoning answers the questions that the examination of all other Roman/100s AD secular writings can only ask due to their resilient disbelief in the message of early Christianity.

        In short, the conclusion that Jesus Christ is the Son of God is the missing piece that explains the unexplainable and provides context and rationality to one of the strangest events in all human history.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. And it was commonly believed that Mithras was a deity, he had a devoted group of followers in his mystery cult. But just because he had believers and was well-known, it doesn’t follow that he was a deity or that because they believed so must we.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That’s a valid point, and furthermore, while it is commonly believed that Mithraism is a pagan copy of Christianity, evidence will serve to support the claim the Mithraism came first.

      But here’s where that comparison ends.

      Jesus walked amongst men and we have irrefutable evidence that supports that.

      While the being known has Mithras, on the other hand, does have numerous archeological findings that support his existence in concept, there is no evidence outside of that of its doctrine that supports the claim that he was an actual person that lived amongst humanity at any given point it time.

      Again while there are numerous similarities to the case of Mithraism that of Christianity, the fact remains that we know our man lived (both through doctrinal and historical evidence) and that since nothing has been found to prove the existence of Mithras in a physical form, we can rationally conclude that Mithraism is simply one of many cult followings of the Pre-Christian era.

      I like to believe things that have irrefutable evidence to support them, Mithraism has none.

      Just as Jesus lived, died, and became the central figure of the newfound religion of Christianity, there is both a reason and a cause behind this.

      That reason is that he was the Son of God and the cause was for him to die for this sins of man so we wouldn’t have to live like OT savages anymore.

      History supports that claim.

      Liked by 1 person

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