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Anyone who is openly religious in this day and age has inevitably encountered an atheist who feels it is their solemn duty to mock, ridicule and play “gotcha” with your religion. They usually take a condescending yet aggressive attitude and would love nothing more than to bully you into apostacy. Failing that, a frantic crisis of faith is the next best thing for them. For some reason, many feel that this sort of damaging, anxious, painful stage is better than faith and trust in God, and they are willing to do their best to force you there. Thankfully, most atheists tend to reuse same handful of questions and arguments in an effort to convert you to their religion. This means that members of other religions can prepare answers to those questions rather than trying to make their brain function properly with a zealot bearing down on them.

“Can you prove God exists?” or “There is no proof God exists.”

This is one of atheism’s favorite lines. They love to ask this question because it allows them to define all the terms that make the question meaningful and eliminate all sorts of answers. Atheists who ask this question have a narrow view of what counts as proof, and the question tends to force religious people on the defensive. It puts the burden of proof on them. One easy way to deal with this is to turn the question around. “Can you prove God does not exist?” This forces the atheist to defend their position instead of putting you on the back foot. 

When dealing with this question, if you cannot turn it around on them, demand to know what they would count as proof. Religious people know that the proof of God’s existence is found in personal experiences, anecdotes of others, ancient texts and even nature itself. That said, most atheists would cheerfully ignore that entire body of evidence if allowed to do so. So, find out what they would count as proof. If they would allow, as some do, “one person who can say they met or spoke to God,” feel free to simply hand them either the Hebrew or Christian Bible. People’s experiences with God make up almost the entirety of both texts.  Similarly, most scholars would agree that something happened if they had textual evidence from multiple sources, otherwise inexplicable actions of people from a variety of walks of life and a massive cultural shift that survived. All of these occurred around Christ’s resurrection. Yet, for some reason, atheists claim none of that counts as evidence.

If they claim that only replicable experiments can offer proof, remind them that a great deal of what is accepted science cannot actually be tested in a lab. Evolution, plate tectonics and the expansion of the universe are all widely accepted scientific theories. They cannot be tested in the lab simply because of the scale being discussed. Their effects, however, can be seen in the natural world. The same is true of God. You cannot test that God exists in a lab, but you can see clearly the marks He left on the world. 

If you do not want to have the argument, however, you can also return with a simple question all but guaranteed to stop most atheist zealots in their tracks. “If I can offer you evidence that God exists, would you convert to my religion and accept God right now?”

“I only believe in what I can see or touch.”

This is another classic atheist excuse for dismissing religion. When you come up against this question, ask if they believe in dark matter. The odds are, they will say yes. In that case, remind them that dark matter cannot be seen, touched or manipulated. There is no physical proof it exists, yet it is a widely, though not universally, accepted theory. Ask the same question about thoughts. Scientists may be able to see electricity moving across the brain, but thoughts and dreams are still largely inexplicable and unobservable to an outsider. A person can describe their dream, just like a person can describe a conversion experience, but no one else can prove or see what happened in the person’s mind. Atheists, however, are unlikely to claim that human beings do not dream or think. The same logic can be applied to the weak nuclear force and strong nuclear force, the two lesser known fundamental forces of nature. Weak nuclear force deals with radioactive decay. Strong nuclear force holds atoms together. Can the atheist actually see or touch either of those forces? If they point out that the effects of the force can be observed, remind them that people say the same of God.
They cannot have their cake and eat it, too. 

“Science can explain all phenomena, so religion is unnecessary.”

Science is excellent at explaining most physical phenomena. That said, intangibles are completely out of science’s wheelhouse. Science cannot explain what beauty truly is or why one person loves impressionist paintings and another likes modern art. Art, beauty, happiness, morality, ethics, love, these are all the sort of things that science cannot touch. Science cannot explain why a song might bring tears to your eyes, why a sunset or baby’s laugh makes you smile or why human beings crave more than the simple animal comforts of a home and food. Atheists might say that science can map the brain and show how certain colors light up happiness pathways or release certain chemicals that make you feel happy. Do not be fooled. All they are saying is “science says art makes you happy because your brain makes you feel happy when you look at it.” In other worse, you are happy because you are happy. 

“People only accept religion because they were raised in it.”

The argument that religious people are sheep blindly following an outdated way of life is as old an argument as atheism itself. The next time you are accused of blind faith, ask the atheist if they believe in quantum mechanics or sub-subatomic particles like quarks. Most of them will say yes. Ask them why they believe that. Have they ever observed it? Have they gone to a physics lab and studied the raw data such places produce? Have they done any experiments themselves? The odds are they have not.
Instead, they accept it because they were taught it. That does not mean those things are wrong, but atheists like to get on their high horses and claim that they are perfectly rational people who base every decision on logic. Yet, they accept certain scientific theories simply because the right person taught it to them. Another way to point out that this is a stupid argument is to point to the many people who convert from atheism to other religions. Clearly, there is something about religion that is attractive. Besides, many religious people stay religious all their lives while casting off other beliefs from childhood. Clearly, religion lingers for a reason.

“If God is good, why do people suffer?” or “If God is merciful, why is there evil?”

Atheists love to throw out difficult theological questions like these and then act like they won something when the average person struggles to answer them. Frankly, these are the sort of questions that religious scholars dedicate their lives to studying. The fact that the average person cannot answer one of the most fundamental and difficult questions in religion is not proof that religion is false. You can try to point that out to an atheist, or you can fire back with another question. “Can you explain how quantum  mechanics and Einstein’s theory of relativity fit together?” Any atheist who claims they can has either solved one of science’s biggest struggles in the modern era or is lying through their teeth.
Scientists have been beating their heads against that question for years, but you would not claim that everything about science is false simply because the average person could not answer that difficult question. Frankly, the fact that there is a question that even experts struggle with is not proof that an entire thought system is wrong. It simply means an answer has not been found yet, or that the answer sits either at the edge of or beyond the realm of human understanding. If the atheist scoffs at the idea that humans have a limit to their ability to understand, remind them that scientists  have to carefully train their minds to work with the miniscule numbers found in microbiology or the massive units used in astrophysics. Even then, most scientists struggle to truly comprehend the size of a space that measures 3,000 lightyears apart. There are some things the human mind simply is not wired to handle. 

“Religion causes evil!” or “Religion killed more people than anything else!”

Atheists love to point to terrible events of centuries past as proof that religion is evil. Frankly, if a thought system is going to be judged by the worst of its uses, science has a track record just as bad in Japan’s Unit 731, the Tuskegee syphilis experiment and Josef Mengele. When atheists point to the Spanish Inquisition as proof that religion is evil, as they love to do, feel free to point right back at those infamous figures of scientific evil as well as more grey and controversial figures such as James Marion Sims.

Atheists tend to point to the body count that piles up when religion is used as an excuse for political fighting. Should they insist that religion has the highest kill count of anything, here are few proud atheists to remind them of: Mao Zedong who murdered at least 45 million people, possibly more given that the records have either been destroyed or locked down; Adolf Hitler killed over 18 million people, at least 6 million of whom were systematically annihilated in the worst genocide ever seen, and many believe that number is far too low; Joseph Stalin murdered over 15 million people, including an estimated 8 million through a deliberately created famine; Vladimir Lenin is estimated to have killed between 5 and 10 million of his own people, but numbers are difficult to come by; and Pol Pot who slaughtered 2.5 million people in ways that still turn stomachs. These are the men with the highest death toll in history, and that is not including the millions killed as a result of the wars that they were involved in or sparked. All five of them were staunch, even zealous, atheists who loathed organized religion. Yet somehow atheists believe that the Inquisition is responsible for more evil and a higher body count. The Inquisition lasted for 300 years. The combined death toll of Inquisition executions, people killed by torture and those who died in prison of sickness comes out to around 150,000 people. The Nazis killed almost 10 times that number of people at Auschwitz alone, and that number is likely far too low. 

Arguing with atheists about religion is often about as rewarding and as friendly as trying to kill an angry badger with your teeth. That said, if you find yourself in a situation where you are cornered by atheists who feel they are more enlightened than religious people and must liberate your poor delusional soul, there is something very satisfying about having an answer for the questions that atheists tend to see as the perfect “gotcha!” moment. That said, such debates are normally best avoided in the first place unless you are with a trusted friend who is not going to try and make a scene. Otherwise, all that happens is you either waste your time arguing with a belligerent brick wall or you both look like fools.