Advice for Talking to Atheists

By pintswaquinas June 20, 2024

Have you ever met an atheist who said they have no good reasons to believe in God? If so, how did you respond?

In this situation, many Catholics panic because they don’t know the classic philosophical arguments for God’s existence. Or they know them but can’t argue them in depth.

Here are other ways to keep the conversation going.

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Ask, “Why should I believe there are no good reasons to believe in God?”
Even Christians acknowledge that arguments against God’s existence vary in strength. We would say an atheist’s argument that suffering precludes the existence of a good God is stronger than someone saying, “I became an atheist after my pastor yelled at me.”

But on the other hand, many atheists act like all arguments for God are equally bad. This often shows they haven’t done their research.

There are both poor arguments for God’s existence and compelling ones. Encourage your atheist friend to assess the different proofs. That way, they can’t get away with thinking all arguments for God are bad because of one weak claim.

Be prepared for this retort.
At this point, an atheist may respond by saying something along these lines: “People have believed in Bigfoot, the Loch Ness Monster, and other creatures you think are mythical. Why can’t I dismiss the idea of God as easily as you dismiss those creatures? You probably haven’t looked at all the arguments for the existence of those beings.”

Let’s be honest; some of those creatures could exist. However, it’s unlikely because they’re countered by plenty of sound arguments to the contrary. For example, if Bigfoot is around, we’d expect to find more scat and footprints. Most people follow the consensus of zoologists, who maintain that such large bipedal creatures are myths.

But the question of God’s existence can’t be approached the same because it’s a philosophical question rather than a scientific one. God is not a being in the universe you can try to find.

Don’t question the atheist’s intelligence.
Yes, Psalm 14:1 states, “The fool says in his heart, ‘There is no God.’” But many atheists are highly intelligent people. And although the existence of God can be known through human reason alone, it’s not obvious to everyone.

Insulting a smart atheist friend’s intelligence will make them think that religious people are afraid of rational thought.

Above all, control yourself in conversation. Ultimately, God is the one who converts hearts. You are an instrument. Be kind, share what you know, ask thoughtful questions, pray, and leave the rest to God.

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