Conversations with an Atheist
A friend of mine and I had a lengthy discussion about faith the other night. My friend is an atheist, and though it might strike some of you as odd that I would keep company with someone who does not believe in God, I often find it easier to converse with Atheists because, give or take, mostly they attempt to operate on reason.
In the course of our conversation, the subject of faith came up, as it normally does among those who believe they neither have, nor need it, and he asked me why he should spend any time investing in something he can not see, or hear, or prove to be in existence at all. Although we, as Christians, know of a certainty that God exists, and that His methods of communication, once you’re in the fold, are not only concrete, but also irrevocably intimate and timely, for a man who has never had the experience, I found it an inquiry worth addressing.
So I asked my friend why he thought he lived without faith. This puzzled him - which made me happy. “Well, I’m saying I don’t believe in anything I can’t see or prove”.
“Really?”, I said. “So, when you get in your car, and you zoom down the freeway at 60+ miles per hour, how do you know everyone will stay in their lane?”
“I don’t know.”, he said with consternation. “I guess I just...”
“Or when you get on an airplane. Do you always meet the pilot? How do you know he knows how to fly that thing? Or the mechanics for that matter - are you certain they went over every inch of the engine, and the body and confirmed that everything was in working order?”
“Well...no...”, he said, finally figuring out where I was going with this.
“Then why would you get on the plane? Or get in your car? Or perhaps, to take it to the greatest extreme, why would you ever trust anyone enough to get involved in a relationship with them? Or love them? How do you know they won’t betray you? or steal from you? Or lie to you?”
It seems curious to me that, as a society, atheists in particular seem more than ready to put their faith in man. Man, who has proven over and over and over again to be consistently deceitful, selfish, corruptible and just generally flawed. Yet they find it difficult to put faith in something called God.
The point is, faith is a mandatory requirement for life. We have no choice. We must have faith in something. Whether it is faith in ourselves; or other people; or the police; or our mechanics, or even science. God has orchestrated it that way. And I’m quite certain He knew exactly what He was doing.
Why would one need to have faith in science? An Atheist’s entire belief system is based on science - or perhaps better said, on the things we have already proven.
But does not even a scientist need faith? In fact, it is quite possible that scientists, by their very nature and curiosity, must have an extraordinary amount of faith to do their job.
An Atheist might try to have you believe that these two concepts are at odds. But we know better than that. History has shown that while man, throughout his generations and existence on this planet has proven, quite factually, over and over and over again, just how much he does not know in the pursuit of discovering new things, every generation seems to maintain an arrogant certainty that it is their generation that finally knows it all. The other generations, well, they were just.... less evolved.
Through history, some of the great visionary minds of their day were considered insane by the so called “scientific community”. One example is Louie Pasteur, who swore that there were invisible elements in the air that made us sick. Pasteur was maligned as a murderer and a menace to science. He was even challenged to a duel by an angry physician (a fellow “man of science”). And just what was his crime? Mr. Pasteur published a pamphlet urging doctors to wash their hands and sterilize their instruments before surgery.
In the 1980’s, eggs were declared to be unhealthy for general consumption. In the 1990’s, the FDA apologized to the egg community. In the 80’s, chicken was the perfect food. In the 90’s, once again the “scientific community” discovered it had made a few boo-boos and chicken, in large quantities, could be detrimental to one’s health.
But more to the point, what is it that drives men like Pasteur, and Galileo (who was ultimately imprisoned for his research by the Inquisition), or Newton; or Einstein? What is it about these visionary scientists that moves them to an almost obsessive-compulsive need to uncover the unknown?
One singular element must run through all of them. They must believe that there are things that are provable, but are as yet unknown. In short, they must have faith. They must BELIEVE that they do not know everything. And in believing that, they pursue through theory and experimentation to discover the things that God has yet to reveal to us - whether they admit it, or not.
The arrogance of this generation seems to mirror, if not even supersede the arrogance of past generations. Apparently, in this day and age, not only do we know everything that is provable, but we also seem to know what we don’t know. Else how could anyone, from any position of sound reason, deny that the existence of God is a possibility? If we know (as a species) that there are things yet undiscovered, then it only tracks that it is possible, though we have not yet proven the existence of God, that He in fact could exist - and that His existence might (and will) ultimately be provable.
Many Atheists I’ve met seem very comfortable with the idea that Aliens could exist. They seem genuinely ok with believing that, though we have no concrete evidence to prove it. I’ve considered, on a number of occasions, just what the difference is between believing in Aliens and believing in God.
There’s only one glaring difference that I can come up with: Aliens don’t hold you accountable for your actions. You don’t have to answer to Aliens. Aliens do not enforce a set of rules and guidelines that hinder you from complete self-service and self-worship. People can still do what they want, without their conscience getting in the way, even if they believe in Aliens. But if you believe in God, well.... well, then you might actually have to change some things. And nobody wants to do that. It would be.... inconvenient.
And so, it seems to me that we have returned (or perhaps we never actually left) to the original sin. In Isaiah 14, God tells us very clearly what the original sin was when speaking to satan.
Isaiah 14:12 How you have fallen from Heaven, o lucifer, son of the morning! How you have been cut down to the ground, which did weaken the nations! 13 For you have said in your heart, “I will ascend into Heaven; I will exalt my throne above the stars of God; I will sit also upon the mount of the congregation, in the sides of the north (In the Temple of God, the north side is where God’s throne is); 14 I will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will be like THE MOST HIGH.”
There is never any room for God in the heart of one who wants to be their own god.
Isaiah 14:15 Yet you shall be brought down to hell, to the sides of the pit. 16 They that see you shall narrowly look upon you, and consider you saying, ‘Is this the man that made the earth to tremble; that did shake kingdoms; 17 that made the world as a wilderness and destroyed the cities thereof; that opened not the house of his prisoners?’ 18 All the kings of the nations, even al of them, lie in glory, every one in his own house. 19 But you are cast out of your grave like an abominable branch, and as the raiment of those that are slain, thrust through with a sword, that go down to the stones of the pit; as a carcass trodden under foot.
You see, whether they like it or not; whether they believe it or not, God is very real, and His laws and His Throne are immovable. Much like gravity, and all the laws of nature, God exists and is in power whether we choose to believe in Him or not.
And whether or not we choose to believe it, faith is the foundation of all things attainable in life. For without faith, there is no hope; and without hope, the spirit itself withers and dies. Show me a man void of hope, and I will show you a man who is dead while his heart still beats in his chest. if you wonder where all the rage, and frustration, and violence comes from in the world today, wonder no further. For without our Lord and Savior, all hope is lost.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear (reverence) of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction.
Hebrews 10:37 For yet a little while and He that shall come will come, and will not tarry. 38 Now the just shall live by faith (quoted from Habbakuk 2:4 - I urge you to read the entirety of Habbakuk to better understand what Paul is saying here): but if any man draw back, My soul shall have no pleasure in him. 39 But we are not of them who draw back unto perdition; but of them that believe to the saving of the soul.
Oh, and as for my friend, he is now reading MERE CHRISTIANITY - a book I find to be an exceptional introduction to Christianity for Atheists. Will my friend come to Christ? Will his heart change? I have no idea. I pray for him daily. In short, I hope. But that is God’s domain, and I’m very happy that it is. No one does it better than Him.
In His Service,
Decisions Based in Christ
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