5/21/16 Tony 26
“If God does exist, he’s got a lot of explaining to do” a young man named Tony told me last night. I had begun a gospel outreach conversation with him on the sidewalk, and as we talked he had confidently given the usual litany of reasons for not believing in God – “There is no evidence for God’s existence.” “Christianity arose from an ancient and ignorant people who didn’t have science.” “More evil has been done in the name of religion than for any other reason” “The Bible just copies it’s stories from religions that came before it” “But the Bible is just written by man”
I hear these same talking points so often, it seems to me like those who believe in them are all getting all their info from the same source, like from an atheist handbook or something. They can seem intimidating and overwhelming, but a good thing about them being used so often is we can have a good idea of which questions to prepare for in advance. And we don’t have to answer them all in one conversation – to win his trust and engagement in the conversation I listened patiently to Tony for several of these arguments – but when I gave some reasonable answers and pushback to just a few of his questions, his confidence faded, he became unsure of the facts, and was too unsure or embarrassed to reveal his sources.
In 2 Corinthians 10, Paul wrote “The weapons we fight with are not the weapons of the world. On the contrary, they have divine power to demolish strongholds. We demolish arguments and every pretension that sets itself up against the knowledge of God, and we take captive every thought to make it obedient to Christ.” Just as our real opponent in debates like this are not really the person we are talking to but a variety of “spiritual strongholds”, the “weapons” we fight with are not to be worldly but spiritual weapons, like the truth of God’s word truth, His authority, and, of course, prayer.
It was late at night, and we both had to be on our way. As far as I know, I hadn’t convinced Tony of anything significant in that short conversation, but having reasonable responses to just a few of his big questions had quickly undermined his confidence in his chosen religion of atheism, and he was open to reading some follow up materials I gave him. Are you ready to answer some of these questions? There are reasonable answers. 1 Peter 3 says “Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect…” We owe it to the non-believers we talk to do our homework and to be prepared with answers. One example of a place to find answers to the 10 most common questions from atheists would be HERE