Tuesday, March 17, 2009

I Object! Countering Atheists

You can now listen to or download this as a podcast by clicking here...

This is first in a series of articles on handling objections to the gospel. I want this to be interactive so I am asking you to submit a topic for consideration. What is one objection to the gospel that you have encountered that made you think or had you stumped?

I would even invite someone who does not believe to submit a question for consideration - that is, if you really want an answer. (No stump the Christian questions like, "can God create a rock so big he can't lift it" and so forth.)

I will write a article on how to respond when that objection comes up. Fair enough? So send me your suggestions to info at onlyfoundation dot org and I will consider them for an upcoming topic.

Recently, I was working with a team of street evangelists in New Orleans prior to Mardi Gras. While standing in the middle of a very crowded Bourbon Street around 9:00 P.M., I was accosted by two college-aged guys who claimed to be atheists.

They were in my face expressing their opinion quite vocally while I was trying to get them to think honestly about the fallacy of their position. These guys were what we on the Intentional Community Evangelism team affectionately call "DTs" or "Drunk Theologians." (Get a few beers in them and they become ______________ [insert name of your favorite theologian here])

First of all, it has been my observation that most people claim to be atheists because they don't want to be accountable to a Holy God and not because of the preponderance of evidence for the non-existence of God. It's kind of like saying that your electric bill does not exist in the hope that that will excuse you from making the payment. Soon you will find yourself in the dark for not paying the bill.

Second, I am amazed that people like this would pour so much energy into objecting to something that they don't believe exists. If you don't believe that God exists then leave it at that. You might choose not to believe in gravity if you want. Just don't jump off of any 12 story buildings when I am around - I faint at the sight of blood.

They expend energy defending their position in hopes of making God disappear.

This is why it is best to speak to the conscience of this type of atheist. The Way of the Master Training is one of the best courses to help you witness in this instance. I don't agree with Ray Comfort in regards to the sinners prayer, but using the Ten Commandments to bring conviction in the heart of the atheist (or anyone else) is right on target.

A sample conversation would go something like this...

Witness: Do you consider yourself to be a good person?

Atheist: Of course I do...

Witness: Have you ever told a lie?

Atheist: Sure, everyone has.

Witness: What does that make you?

Atheist: It doesn't make me a bad person.

Witness: If I told you a lie, what would you call me?

Atheist: A liar.

Witness: So you are a liar by your own admission...

Atheist: If you want to call it that.

Witness: Have you ever stolen something regardless of value?

Atheist: Yes.

Witness: What does that make you?

Atheist: A thief.

And so forth...

As they are listening, the Holy Spirit is using the law to reveal their sinfulness to them. For the sake of brevity, I will not go any further with the script...

As far as philosophical and apologetic responses to this objection are concerned (No, I am not apologizing for my faith, Apologetics is the practice of defending the faith) I believe that the argument from the existence of morality is the best approach to giving convincing proof of the existence of God.

Christian apologist C.S Lewis was converted as a result of this argument. His argument is detailed in the book Mere Christianity.

Lewis once believed that God could not exist if evil existed. A loving and good God would not allow evil to exist in his creation. One day Lewis asked himself where his definition of Good came from. Was good merely something that he preferred and evil something that he disliked? This made his definition of good, subjective (meaning that what was good for him might not be good for someone else.)

If that was true, then his argument against God fell apart because what he considered evil was merely something that he did not prefer. Good and evil had to come from some outside, objective source. Hence: God. Even if the idea of good and evil came from society, it would still be subjective and irrelevant.

As it says in Romans 2: "For when Gentiles, who do not have the law, by nature do what the law requires, they are a law to themselves, even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts, while their conscience also bears witness, and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. - (Rom 2:14-15)

Morality and good exists because God exists. Evil exists because sinful man chooses to reject the good in favor of evil. Or it could be said that evil is the absence of Good.

There are many other arguments that could be shared with the atheist. This one has the most teeth as far as I am concerned because it allows you to transition back to using the law to bring conviction. So if the atheist is open to an honest dialogue, use this approach to sharing with them.

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