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Faith and religion are some of the most sensitive and personal subjects a person can address. They often form the bedrock of a person’s morals, ethics and worldview. As such, it can be painful and shocking when those beliefs are called into question by other people.

Disagreements over minor details of faith are not usually a serious problem between people. There are times, however, when one person questions the most fundamental and basic tenets of another person’s religion. In such cases, the person who is being questioned is often shaken, angry or feeling oddly betrayed by the first person’s skepticism. One of the most prevalent ways this happens in the Western World is when those who do not believe in either God or the afterlife claim that He does not exist. In those cases, what should a Christian do? How should they respond to people who claim God is not real?

Think about how they said it.

The first thing to consider when dealing with any sort of cultural or religious issue is how a person made their comment or asked their question. Were they a jerk about it? Did they ask their question in mocking tones or suggest that someone who is a faithful believer give up on the fairy tales religion tells? Were they condescending, or were they conversational? Were they simply making a comment or trying to start a conversation? Though most people are rather uncomfortable discussing their beliefs in public, there are others who enjoy debating religious and spiritual matters. The person claiming God is not real may have simply been looking for a good way to get their potential debate partner riled up.

Find out why they think there is no God.

When dealing with something as personal as religion, it is important to find out why people think the way they do. Do they not believe in God simply because they were raised in an atheistic household? Did they face some tragedy in their past that convinced them that God could never have allowed such a thing to occur? Depending on which is the case, a person of faith would want to approach the situation differently. For someone who simply grew up with little to no knowledge of God, a person of faith likely would want to expose the other person to God and His love. For someone who was unfortunate enough to suffer a tragedy, the person of faith would need to step carefully. The person may still simply be grieving and angry at the world. They might also have been dealing with this festering wound for some time. 

Defend your beliefs.

If someone claims that there is no God, a person of faith is under no obligation to agree or pretend to agree with them. Be civil, but a person should defend their beliefs. They should explain why they believe that God exists. If they can do so in a convincing manner, they may be able to start their atheistic friend along their own faith journey. Such a thing is not necessarily easily done, but it is worth the struggles to introduce someone to the existence of a wide world of which they were previously unaware.

Be prepared for specific arguments.

When people claim that God does not exist, they often fall back on a handful of familiar arguments. Those who want to defend their belief that God is real can benefit from familiarizing themselves with those arguments and the rebuttals for them. One of the most common arguments against God’s existence is that humans cannot see or touch Him. Excellent responses to this include thoughts and the theory of evolution. No one can see or touch either of those. A person simply has to accept that thoughts, which cannot be seen or touched, exist or that evolution, which cannot be perceived in a human lifetime, is true. Correcting these common accusations often catches atheists off guard, and some people are exquisitely eloquent when they do so

Pray for them.

A person who does not believe in God is completely oblivious to the wider world. They do not realize that there is so much more than this material life. They lack the comfort and sense of purpose that believers possess. They may feel lost, or if they abandoned God after a tragic event, they may feel a deep sense of loss and grief. They do not believe anymore, but they are still on some level aware of on what and whom they turned their back. Pray for those people. Pray that they will remember God and find their way back to Him. Believers can try and lead people to Him, but those who do not believe must make the choice to do so on their own.

When people claim that God is not real, a believer needs to keep calm and argue their case with compassion. Being unaware of the wider world is a tragedy, but the faithful can only do so much for those who do not believe. When it really comes down to it, people must decide for themselves if they are willing to open their minds and hearts and believe.