What Do I Say To An Atheist?

The fool has said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that does good. Psalm 14:1

Have you ever noticed that atheists get highly offended by a God they claim doesn’t exist? What’s up with that? Conscience is the answer.
We were all born with a conscience, the ability to discern right from wrong. From early on we know certain things are wrong without anyone having to tell us. Studies have been done where small children are observed hitting other children. After they hit their body temperature rises, heartbeat increases, and pupils slightly dilate. They feel panic that often is arrivistes to being caught in a wrongdoing. Most begin to look around to see if they are in trouble. You don’t have to teach them that hurting someone is bad. Their conscience tells them this. You merely reinforce what they already know to be true.

What does that have to do with an atheist? Well if we are born with a conscience, defined as a law written upon hearts, then we have to ask who put it there? There cannot be a law without a law giver. C.S Lewis makes this argument for the existence of God in his book, Mere Christianity. My point is that atheists have a conscience that lets them know something greater than themselves is out there but they refuse to acknowledge it. They bow instead before science and reason. So why are atheists so offended by a God they don’t think exists? Because in their soul they know He does. His fingerprints are all over His creation (Romans 1). His law is written upon their hearts (Romans 2:15). So how do we share the gospel with an atheist?

My suggestion to Christians who are sharing the gospel with someone who is an atheist is to consider these things:

1) Dont apologize for faith . When I share the gospel and someone says the Bible is a fairy tale or God is a figment of my imagination, I don’t throw something at their head or fall on the floor and throw a tantrum. I simply tell them I believe the word and that God exists by faith. If they demand proof, I don’t panic or try and accommodate.  I tell them that faith is the only way. I don’t have to try and convince them or prove it to them. If it were that easy we wouldn’t need faith. I simply just tell the truth and if they reject it then they do. I can’t talk them into salvation. I can only share the truth.

2) God doesn’t need you to defend Him. Sometimes when I witness to an atheist they get harsh against God. What kind of God would let people die they might say. When this happens I explain that this world is sinful and that evil things happen. If they go on to attack God, I do not defend Him. He doesn’t need me too. I just simply stay calm and confident in the Lord. If we get defensive for God then we might be showing our own doubt in Him. If we get anxious and argumentative we are saying that their words hit a chord with us. Maybe we don’t trust God as much as we think we do? But when we are calm and confident and we don’t let their words move us, then we communicate that we are sure of God and don’t need to try and get them to think better of Him. They don’t need to think better of God; they need to fall at His feet and worship Him.

3) There are really no such thing as atheists. Atheists say they do not put their faith in a higher power but that is simply not true. Their high power might not be God; instead it might be science, reason, math or astronomy or maybe money, power or fame. Whatever it might be they worship something. They are not an atheist in the truest sense. Doesn’t exist.

4) Always share with gentleness and respect. 1 Peter 3:15 tells us to be prepared at all times to give a reason for the hope that is in us. When we share we are to do it with two approaches: gentleness and respect. No matter how angry or mean the atheist gets, we should be gentle, compassionate, patient, and kind to them. They are lost and in desperate need to hear the truth we have to share. We don’t need our attitude, or temper, or pride to get in the way of that.

5) Your only authority is the word of God. You can’t reason an atheist into heaven. You can’t prove God’s existence with mathematical certainty. What you know to be true about God comes from His word. That is your authority. If they reject the word then they will reject the gospel. You can’t seperate the two.

I hope you will look for opportunities to share your faith. Apply the above and trust God to use your faithfulness.


31 thoughts on “What Do I Say To An Atheist?

  1. Enter your comment here…Thanks for sharing this, Dax. God recently led me to share the Gospel with an Atheist, who was taking the Bible out of context on Youtube, to make God seem unjust. There were a few other Atheists, who jumpted into the conversation. God had prepared me in advance that most of them would reject what he’d given me to say. Though most of them did respond in a hateful manner, I could tell that one of them did start questioning his belief system. I am continuing to pray for the ones who would not heed God’s Words, that they will have a personal experience with God in their life that will soften their hearts.

  2. Really love this, Kinda sad though because so many times over and over you point out what with reason I know ” You can’t make them believe.” That’s the saddest part. My husband use to believe, I’m not sure what pain happened or why he stopped but within the last couple of years he has decided there is no God. My heart breaks, how do you talk to someone who use to believe, those who no longer believe in what they use to?

    1. I am sorry to hear that about your husband. That is tough. I think you pray every day fervently. I prayed for my dads salvation for over 23 years and before he died he received the Lord. Also you look for opportunities to show grace to him that tells him that there is something greater than you at work.

    2. An atheist husband talking .. I used to believe, my wife still does.

      I obviously have no knowledge of your situation, but it is difficult and challenging to move away from a long held faith and the pain you know your partner will feel is difficult to bear. If you haven’t already done so, I recommend making an effort to understand why your husband no longer believes and what his motives were. Not having that conversation will create a void between you. Well, it has in every other similar situation that I am aware of.

      This change in dynamic is hard to adjust to and often it creates a barrier where certain subjects become hard to talk about. It’s tempting to avoid those subjects because they are not easy conversations. I’ve made this mistake and there is no easy way to say this, not talking about them can be more damaging than risking the argument that comes when you do talk about them. Arguments over faith become very painful for both parties, especially when kids are involved. I don’t have any easy answers for you because I am still walking that path rocky path five years after telling my wife I no longer believed.

      Be assured, it is possible to continue to have a fruitful marriage, it will take some adjustment though. Put aside ideas that he thinks you’re stupid for continuing to believe, it’s unlikely he thinks that.

      Oh and, No3 in the list above is utter nonsense.

      1. Thanks for sharing. As for point number 3 if I were an atheist I feel certain I would say that too but your loyalty is given to something and rather you recognize it as divine or not is not really the point. For most their God is themselves. You may not see it this way but I bet you treat yourself like a god. You are most likely completely devoted to yourself and see yourself as the highest order in your life. It might be semantics here but I see that as worship. I bring it out because I think it is one of the areas God will judge. We were never meant to think of ourselves so highly.

      2. ” your loyalty is given to something and rather you recognize it as divine or not is not really the point. For most their God is themselves. You may not see it this way but I bet you treat yourself like a god. You are most likely completely devoted to yourself and see yourself as the highest order in your life.”

        Telling people what they think and believe is not conducive to a fruitful discussion, especially when they have just told you the opposite. More likely than not it is going to offend. Do consider the possibility that you’re not correct.

  3. Great word and timely. I am currently beginning a bible study in 1st Peter and may quote you tonight if that is ok.

    1. I allowed your post because you have a right as any to comment but there are holes all in your statements. CS Lewis doesn’t have to be a spokesperson for it against atheism to say something. He is an incredibly respected writer and Mere Christianity has been heralded as on of the top sellers of all time. You mention the conscience is a poor argument but you don’t give any reason why. I think your issue with my post is you see it as agenda driven yet how is your reply any different? Reality is we both can find sources to make our point. I appeal to God as my higher power. If I am wrong then we will both be dead one day and rotting in the ground. But if I am right…

    2. Here is question I have wondered if you would engage it: does it make you sad there this is no afterlife in your view? I am curious if you have an emotional response to that?

  4. A response to makagutu https://maasaiboys.wordpress.com/2016/03/03/what-do-i-say-to-an-atheist/

    Wow, there has definitely been a lot going on here. I was hoping to offer some clarity in regards to the initial comment that makagutu posted. I am by no means upset nor do I desire to pick a fight, but I think there are some inconsistencies that deserved to be clarified from the Christian worldview perspective. So, please allow me to share.

    1. Evidence. I realize that some Christians say that we should just take things by faith which implies fideism, but that is not true. My faith is not a blind faith. In fact, I would say that our faith is built upon reason and evidence. For example, the Cosmological argument, the Kalam argument, Fine-Tuning argument, Moral argument, and the resurrection of Jesus all give iron-clad evidence to the existence of a diving being that the Christian God is in fact God. I would also point out, that the above arguments which give evidence to the existence of God are just a few. I encourage those who are involved to check these arguments out. One source that is extremely helpful is http://www.reasonablefaith.org/

    2. The problem of evil. The problem of evil is certainly a problem. I think this is the main reason people abandon faith or never choose to study theism. I admit that evil and suffering is hard for anyone to try and explain. I would say that the atheist has the hardest time explaining it. According to the atheist worldview there are no morals, no values, and no purpose in life whatsoever. So, this is a problem because everyone believes in “good” or “evil.” In fact no one can live in any other way. An atheist might say, “good and evil are illusions.” And I would say, then why does the atheist live by them? Why is it that the atheist cannot live consistent to their set of beliefs. They say there is no good or evil, but they cannot live their life consistent with their beliefs, therefore their beliefs are false. Maybe an illustration might help. If an atheist’s family member is raped and murdered, they will surely demand justice. But why? If the logical conclusion to their worldview is that there are no moral values and duties, the atheist really should not demand justice at all.

    Now, if an atheist concedes that there are moral values (good and evil) and duties (right and wrong) then what ground do they base those values and duties in? Experience tells us that objective moral values and duties are a reality. Some things are really wrong and right. Some things are worthy of praise. If there are things that are really wrong despite my opinion, then where does that law come from? If truth is relative (which is a contradiction of terms) then who am I to say someone “ought” to do anything? I wouldn’t be able to. But truth is not relative and objective moral values and duties do exist. I “ought” to really do good and not evil. Who puts that obligation over me? I would say that objective laws come from a moral Law Giver, a.k.a. God.

    Now that I’ve established the reality of objective moral values and duties, allow me to answer the problem of evil. The problem goes something like this: Since God and evil exist at the same time then God cannot exist. The atheist usually claims:
    1 – An all loving, all powerful God exists.
    2 – Suffering exists.
    3 – Therefore God cannot exist.

    But there are hidden assumptions with this argument:

    1- if God is all powerful, He can create any world He wants.
    2- if God is all loving he would prefer a world without suffering.

    Look at the first one. Is it necessarily true that God can create any world he wants? It is not possible if he creates people with freedom of the will. It is like God making a round square or a married bachelor. Those are logically impossible and so is “making” a free creature do something. Since it’s possible that people have free will, it means that God cannot create any world he wants. Further, someone might say, well why did he create if he knew evil would be in the world? Because he desires a real, authentic love relationship with people. True love does not exists apart from freedom to choose. And with the possibility of true love there is also a possibility of pain. If you want to get rid of suffering, then you would have to get rid of humans and be robots.

    Now onto the second hidden assumption, if God is all loving he would prefer a world without suffering. Given that freedom of the will is possible, why would God want a world full of robots with no freedom? Especially if he desires a true love relationship? It seems logical that it is possible that God gives humans freedom for the purpose of love and prefers that over making robots. And when you hug your kids or spouse, you are glad he did.

    3 – Christians. Apparently, your definition of Christian is flawed. No Christian claims perfection. We all sin, including me. However, that is what makes the gospel of Jesus Christ beautiful.

    4 – This point you made is ad hominem, which is what I have seen most people do in this blog. There doesn’t seem to be a true desire to discuss truth. I wish that was not the case. It seems to me that if eternal life is possible then a person should spend every waking moment to know truth. Ad hominem attacks never help anyone but cause people to argue and ignore the seeking of truth. What a travesty if they are wrong only because they never examined the evidence because of a hard heart.

    5 – If people cannot rely on a book, then what do you rely on? I am sure you did not come up with your set of beliefs on your own. The issue is, are your beliefs true and justifiable by evidence? I say that they are not. Atheism cannot successfully explain the beginning of the universe, the origin of man, the human mind, the fine-tuning of the universe, moral values and duties, the resurrection of Jesus, or the universal law of logic. Speaking of logic, have you wondered why every human being reasons the same way? Why is there a law of non-contradiction that governs your mind as you read this? Why is there a law of excluded middle? Where did that law come from? Naturalism cannot explain that. You said that the only authority is you. But according to your worldview, truth is relative, so why should I believe anything you say? That claim according to your worldview is self refuting. That is another example of how you cannot follow your own worldview.

    Finally, your last statement said we should improve the world. Why? According to the atheist worldview, there is no purpose, no values, no morals, and no reason. Then improving the world means nothing. In fact, according to your worldview, this conversation means nothing. But, although an atheist will agree that all of this means nothing, they cannot live that way. You live in a constant state of self-delusion. You will provide for your families, demand justice, want love, expect a fair grade or a fair wage. My question is why? If you don’t believe it is real, then why can’t you live that way? You can’t.

    So, I have addressed each point in an effort to provide clarity from the Christian perspective and refute some of the claims in this initial post. If anyone would like to take issue with my claims and evidence, please let us discuss the evidence and not attack one another. I will be happy to have a good discussion about the evidence that I have shared for the Christian faith. Thank you.

    1. To disclaim Christianity one would need to discount the Bible. The Bible has upheld the test of time. Many manuscripts have been found validating the text we have now. Scientists have not disproven the Bible. If so show me where.

  5. Hello there!

    As an atheist, I can say that this is bad advice for trying to engage atheists on matters of belief. Instead of starting off with the sales pitch for salvation, why not ask if someone wants to hear it first? Maybe people have heard it before, and they’re not responsive to it.

    Atheists are very real, and we’re growing in number. While I can’t speak for everyone, I can say that I do not look to replace deity worship with some other form of worship. It doesn’t work that way, and pretending otherwise isn’t helpful to a healthy conversation. Think of it this way: what if I told everyone that Christianity is really all about having multiple wives? What if I was condescending to every Christian that tried to explain otherwise? That’s a very mean thing to do.

    It’s also the net effect of what you’re saying. It’s not true, and simply talking about it doesn’t make it true.

    One last thing: plenty of atheists are not angry at something they don’t think exists. Rather, it’s the lack of mutual respect. It’s the same thing that Christians do not appreciate from atheists who do not do the same.

    1. Sirius thanks for posting. I appreciate the honest comments. When I engage someone personally who is an atheist, if they tell me they don’t what to speak on it I stop. Beating them over the head is not the way. I respectfully disagree that all people don’t worship something. I think that they do. Maybe not in a formal sense but they give their heart and soul to it. I don’t want to give a sales pitch but have an honest dialogue about Jesus with those I talk too. You would say we shouldn’t target atheists to share with them the gospel but we feel we have a message that needs to be shared with everyone. If someone declines they have that right. I appreciate you commenting. I would share the faith with you not because I don’t respect you but out of genuine concern for you. I would rather not have a long debate here but would say please email me and we can have a dialogue if you choose. Dax@heartlandworship.com

      1. Hello again!

        “You would say we shouldn’t target atheists to share with them the gospel but we feel we have a message that needs to be shared with everyone.”

        Actually, I wouldn’t say that at all. What I’m saying is that asking first is a great way to go about it. Atheists like me who are former Christians have heard plenty of the messages before, and we don’t always have the time or inclination to hear it again. It’s not a function of rudeness or disrespect; it is a product of not wanting to waste anyone’s time.

        It’s similar to getting approached by Mormon missionaries or Jehovah’s Witness missionaries. Sometimes it’s more polite to smile and say, “No thank you.”

  6. After reading the definition of unconditional and love, do you believe this is what god practices? Please keep in mind that in the current state, non believers seem to be going to hellfire. If love was unconditional, wouldn’t an all forgiving god admit everyone in the end according to the definition of unconditional love? If someone was a horrible molester who believed…would they gain admittance over someone who didn’t? I’m agnostic and trying to figure things out. Thank you.

    1. He deserves His unconditional love for His adopted children who come to Him through Christ. His love is unconditional in that He never leaves them even if and when they sin and struggle. His love still endures. We see this in Romans 8:37-39. Someone who molested another has committed the most gore lis of acts. They deserve condemnation but by putting their trust in Christ they are forgiven and set free. Now that assumes their conversion is genuinely faith in the Lord and not just a way of coping with their predicament or because they got caught. The motive has to be right; God is the judge. Now someone who has lived a good life but does not believe will be condemned because they have rejected their creator and have instead trusted in their own goodness. God loves the world and makes His salvation available to all but His unconditional love occurs only after one enters into the salvation covenant. God keeps the conditions of the covenant for both parties, thus it is considers unconditional. Another word for unconditional is God’s grace.

      1. I get yelled at when I ask questions… But I’m going to ask “His unconditional love occurs only after”…that is a condition. I am not trolling. I just have to understand. I was assaulted when I was 9 years old. I begged god to please please help me. I was 9 years old and god ignored me. Are you saying that my assailant gets admittance if he repents…and I get hellfire because I feel that god ignored me and i chose to no longer believe_

      2. Think about this way… because if your sin we are separated from God and considered His enemy. Even if we don’t see ourselves as enemies of His because we sin against Him. He only has judgment and condemnation for His enemies. It is only because of Christ and our coming through Him hat we can find forgiveness of sins and acceptance by God. Once we come through Christ we renter covenant with God. Once we are His we are loved unconditionally. The reason those who are without Christ are not loved by God unconditionally is because they are still in their sins and therefore unacceptable to a holy God.

        As fast as your assault, that is awful. It is horrible you went through that. The reality is we live in an evil world and bad things happen. That is not God’s fault but a result of man’s sin. God is there for your redemption and restoration. Now this individual who did this can find forgiveness and grace in Christ. That does not mean you need to trust him again. It could happen that he finds forgives in Christ and you don’t. You need to quit blaming God for this happening and find hope in Him. God doesn’t promise anything easy on this earth. His reward for us is in eternity

      3. Thank you for the apology. I confused condemnation with malice. By purest definition i am not an enemy. I dont feel hatred. I am questioning..if anything i feel that it goes the other way towards me for questioning.. I will read…

    2. I didn’t place blame on god. Please show me in my words where I said that. I say what i mean. See…i get in trouble when i ask questions. He has malice towards his enemies. That trait sounds human…not godly…and not a loving trait at all. I’m not athiest. I’m trying to understand…so thank you for your patience.

      1. God is completely holy. He has no sin in Him. If he were to accept you or I as a sinner then he would compromise His very nature. Therefore He sent His only son, Jesus, to take on our sins so that we could become righteous through His sacrifice. He doesn’t have malice towards His enemies. He loves them (John 3:16) but He cannot accept sin or else He would no longer be holy. I apologize for saying you blamed God. But you haven’t out your faith in Him either. Therefore you are an enemy of God and while He loves you in that He wants you to come to Him, you are dead in your sin without Christ.

        In order for this conversation to be fruitful I must point you to scripture as well. Could you read these for me and comment. Romans 3:23, Romans 5:8, Romans 6:23, and Romans 10:9,10,13

  7. Sure I could be wrong. It is my observation that it is in our DNA to exalt something to that place. I could be wrong though. Have you considered Incould be right? I did see what you said but you could be deceived. Just because you to I say something doesn’t make it true, correct?

    1. It is indeed true that either of us could be wrong and not know it.

      On the matter of what someone believes or does not believe, it is reasonable to take the position that an individual is the authority on what they believe, not someone else who’s worldview projects unconfirmed belief.

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