Tuesday, July 15, 2014

What would you tell an atheist?

Over at CrossMap, Carol Round wrote a piece asking the question, "What would you tell an atheist if he wanted concrete evidence before he would believe in our Creator God?"
How do you explain to a nonbeliever that God really does exist? When I asked my Facebook friends, I received some incredible responses. While some said they'd share their personal testimony, others mentioned Bible verses they'd share. 
Well, what would she and her readers tell an atheist like me? Lets take a look...
One friend said, "One could point out the fact the Bible isn't just a book....it's a collection of books, written by different people, most of whom didn't even know each other, or maybe not even ever hearing of each other, and how all those books are interrelated and back each other up. All the 'coincidences' in the Bible, and in nature itself, can't just be chalked up to coincidence!
How hard is it to understand that the books of the Bible were first legends that were passed by word of mouth. Over time, different people wrote them down. Additionally, later works were simply building on their predecessors. Just take a look at any popular TV, book, movie, or video game franchise. The later offerings tend to add to and to some degree, match up with the story/mythos of the previous incarnations. Then there is the fan art and fan fictions...

People from far and wide that have never met build on the story, take it in their own direction, finish what the original creators never got around to, obsessively make their companion story fit in with cannon, etc. How is that any different? Does the saturation of Legend of Zelda, Supernatural, Doctor Who, Batman, or Sailor Moon official and fan material make all these properties real and believable as well?

And if the Bible is supposed to be too good to be just a 'coincidence', then why is it chock-full of the kind of contradictions you'd expect from an old legend that was built on by various peoples?
In addition, of course, are all the millions of personal testimonies. I heard a saying once, 'A sinner with an argument is no match for a Christian with an experience!'"
But what about the personal experiences of Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus... even Scientologists? They believe just as strongly in their experiences as a Christian believes in their own. Also, how is someone else's personal experience relevant to me? If the idea is to give me a reason to believe, the feeling someone else gets when they talk to their god simply isn't going to cut it.
A pastor friend on Facebook shared this, "For me, I would have to have proof God doesn't exist.
So the pastors reply is to flippantly declare that the impossible must be done? Lets be clear here, to 100% prove the non-existance of anything is impossible. Be it God, the tooth fairy, Santa, honest politicians, or even a tap-dancing yellow jellybean called Fred that sings the blues. Quite often, the closest you can get to proving something doesn't exist is 99.999...%. But you can never get to 100% unless it is defined in a way that is self refuting.

But while it is impossible to prove 100% that something doesn't exist, it is quite easy to show that something does... well, so long as it actually does exist. The burden of proof falls on the one making the positive claim. That's why the onus is on the believer to show there is a God, and not the non-believer to proof there isn't.
Quoting scripture to them won't work, because they don't believe in the Bible.
Oh, believe me... Most Christians haven't gotten that memo. You might as well quote Star Trek to a Star Wars fan. But there's another level. Quoting the Bible to prove the Bible is circular reasoning, no better than citing that the Sixth Sense proves that Bruce Willis actually is a child therapist ghost.
Seeing comes from faith. It's not up to us to prove there's a God, that's God's job. We are to lead by example, show others the way to Christ, and the Holy Spirit will convict and penetrate the depths of the heart."
If that's the case, God is doing a terrible job. And so what if a Christian leads by example to show the way to Christ? What about the Buddhist that leads by example to show the way to the Buddha and eventually to Nirvana? Yes, sometimes beliefs (of many types) can inspire people to do good. But none of that actually takes a single step in the direction of proving that deity to be actually existent.
Another friend added, "God is like the wind. You can feel it. You know it's there. You just can't see the actual wind. You can see stuff blowing, but not the wind itself. You can't see God, but you can feel Him. You can see the evidence of things He has done and how He works in our lives, but you can't see Him. You just go by faith that He is there."
Watch out guys, we've got someone parroting an old and terrible analogy over here! No, we can't actually see the wind, but we understand it, we know how it works, we can measure it, we can prove it's 'existence'. But we have yet to do any of these things for God. Sure, believers like to claim that God did this or that, but these are only claims. One can say that God got them a promotion or brought them peace, but to date it has never actually been proven that these things attributed to God, were actually done by God. If they were, there would be no reason for this article, because then most atheists would no longer be atheists and would have the evidence we're asking for.

Also, why not just follow Allah by faith? After all, go to him in faith, and you will find that he is there...
Another friend mentioned Jeremiah 29:13. Without telling him it was scripture, I replied once again to the atheist, "If you seek Him wholeheartedly, you will find Him."
Yeah... No. Didn't work. I, like most atheist, was a believer before losing faith. I sought God, believed in him, and yet I still lost faith. Ironically, my deconversion happened while trying to back up and prove my faith. Further more, some atheists were Christian missionaries, and even clergy (and studying to be clergy). Instead of trying to pass off a thinly veiled no true Scotsman argument, how about actually trying to offer some evidence?

But what about the flip side? I could just as easily tell the Christian that if they seek Thor
wholeheartedly, they will find him. If they don't believe in Thor, the problem is them. They either aren't seeking him hard enough and with all their heart, or they just don't want to believe in the glorious god of thunder.

And... That was it. When asked what they would say to an atheist asking for evidence, a grand total of zero offered any evidence. If you ask me, that stunning vacancy it a very telling sign that they quite simply don't have any.

-Brain Hulk

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