On our Christian faith-walk, most of us have or will encounter Atheists, or non-believers. Most atheists base their beliefs on science, logic and reason. While some Atheists keep their opinions to themselves, others are very vocal about why they don’t believe in God, and may even try to sway you to believe otherwise. There are also questions that Atheists commonly raise about God, the Bible and the Christian faith. Second Corinthians 6:14 reminds us, we should not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. There is no fellowship between light and darkness. Don’t get caught off guard when someone criticizes or challenges your faith. Knowing these questions commonly come up can prepare you for healthy dialogues with non-believers. Here four common questions atheists ask about God.
If God is real, why is there so much suffering?
Nonbelievers will argue that if God was all-knowing and all-powerful, he would rid the world of all evil and suffering that comes along with it. It’s in His hands right? So if evil does exist, that means God isn’t all-knowing or all-powerful. This kind of talk is of the enemy in order to sabotage your faith in Christ. Don’t fall victim to this deception. While it’s hard to argue that evil doesn’t exist in the world (you can open any newspaper and turn on the network news to see this), the evils of this world are not of God, but of the enemy. People make harmful choices that reflect evil. That doesn’t negate God’s existence.
How can the Bible be real if it’s full of contradictions?
There are many stories in the Bible that Atheists will challenge –the creation narrative, the flood–because they believe those events aren’t backed up by science or archaeology. They claim that these are just “stories” in a man-made book. But the "Bible isn't backed up" argument is a common myth. Despite claims that the Bible lacks evidence, the stories are inconsistent, and that the stories have changed throughout centuries, physical evidence actually shows something else. Archaeology has shown us that the Bible does correspond with historical reality, especially when it comes to the New Testament. Also, look at the Bible’s consistency. Even though the Bible was written over many centuries with many different writers, the message within the book is still consistent. When someone says “you surely don’t believe in a Book filled with errors and contradictions” ask them which inaccuracies they are referring to. They may have their facts wrong.
Why do I have to be responsible for the sin of Adam and Eve?
Original sin is the doctrine which holds that human nature has been morally and ethically corrupted due to the disobedience of mankind’s first parents to the revealed will of God. In Scripture, the first human transgression of God’s command is described as the sin of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden resulting in the Fall of mankind. The doctrine of original sin holds that every person born into the world is corrupted by the Fall and people are powerless to restore themselves unless rescued by God.
It’s important that atheists know that sin is a condition, not something that people do. It’s the normal spiritual and psychological condition of human beings, not their bad thoughts and actions. We inherited the sin but that doesn’t mean that God wants us to suffer or is evil as a result of the sin. Even if we live the best life possible, we are still sinners as a result of inherited sin but there is hope for us. We receive grace through Jesus Christ. He is the perfect, sinless sacrifice to wash away our sin. He is the Savior of our sins. While we have inherited the sin, God forgives us of our sins through Jesus Christ.
How is Christianity credible when it’s full of hypocrites and evildoers?
Many Atheists will argue that if Christianity was real, there would be no evil because Christianity is supposed to make you better. Because Christianity throughout history hasn’t had the cleanest past and when you turn on the news, you hear of supposed Christians who are mass murderers, pedophiles and adulterers, for many, it takes the credibility away for many. I can’t say that you won’t find hypocrites in the church. There are hypocrites in the church. There are hypocrites everywhere. And yes, there are people who have identified as Christians who have demonstrated unspeakable evil, showing there brokenness with God. We have all sinned. But remember, sin is not of God. Many people who say the church is full of hypocrites have had bad experiences with individuals in the church and some have never set foot inside a church. But those people are not the church. Be open to hearing about their experience, and invite them to see a new way. That may mean hanging around people who demonstrate love in a positive context or even and invitation to church.
Those who don’t believe in God may make assumptions about you as a Christians and you may make assumptions about them. The last thing you should do is start out being pretentious. As stated before, don't assume or suggest that them being atheist is a result of religion failing them in some way. Not only will this offend, but potentially cause greater confrontation. Begin the conversation from an honest space. It's ok to talk openly from the heart and admit that your belief is based on faith, if this is the case. Share your faith story and the impact having a relationship with Christ has had on your journey. You may even be called to acknowledge points where you've been weak in your faith walk, or how your belief in God was troubled, but how God intervened. While they may not share the same beliefs as you do, they will more likely than not have respect for your honesty and openness.