Will The Real Atheist Please Stand Up?
Why Definitions Only Matter in Broad Terms
“Under the atheist worldview…”
“Well atheists believe…”
“Atheism says that the universe is…”
You’ve heard this, right? Or perhaps have even said it? I know I have and as I am starting to speak with more non-believers and read more atheistic(?) work, I am discovering that much like Christianity, there is a flurry of differing views when it comes to atheism.
In a philosophical sense, atheism is the proposal that there is no God or gods. Atheists will disagree with this as they may claim a mere “lack of belief in God”. Which is quite convenient, because that gets them out of having to make a defense for their position. They are not asserting anything, they are simply not convinced!
But just because something is convenient doesn’t make the position untrue. A lot of people when they are speaking with someone will make everything about definitions. While definitions are important, assigning broad terms in a one on one conversation doesn’t do anything to help move along the talk.
Here’s an example.
Let’s say I am talking to a non-believer. They claim atheism and say they merely lack belief. When I press them a bit further, and ask, “Do you think there is a God?” They say, “No, I don’t believe that there is a God.” And then I would say, “Okay, why?”
I hope you haven’t thrown your hands up in too big of a frustration yet. I am not merely giving tips to “trap” people in a conversation. I think if a Christian makes the claim that God exists, they ought to have evidence as well.
When someone makes a claim, in either a positive or a negative manner, they need to support it with evidence. I’ve heard several times that you cannot prove a negative. You certainly can.
There is no town between Lansing and East Lansing.
Whip out a map as evidence and show that there is no town between Lansing and East Lansing. The linked article above goes into details on this as well; and many logicians and philosophers affirm this, too.
A lot of people love debating more than they love learning. When I meet with an atheist I have a few goals.
- I want to try and actually learn about their past and why they have come to the position that there is no God.
- I want know if they’ve even heard the Gospel and if so, what their objections to it are.
- I want to remain calm, because you generally don’t learn a lot in the midst of a heated conversation. At least, I never have. Have you?
Whether you’re speaking about politics, science, religion, economics, or culture you need to ensure that you’re attempting to learn something from your opponent’s position. Even if you vehemently disagree, you can at least walk away know one more approach (even if it’s a crappy one) to the topic at hand.
I’m not much for twisting people that disagree with me into a knot and cornering them intellectually. I’d rather have conversations. Those type of interactions won’t make YouTube’s trending list or the front page of CNN or FOX News, but long-term I think they will be more beneficial than the inflammatory videos and articles we read.
Ask yourself, how many more “BEN SHAPIRO OWNS” or “ATHEIST DESTROYS CHRISTIAN” videos do we need?
Definitions are important, but in a one on one talk, understand that the person’s views matter more and that their view generally goes beyond a one or two word label.
Atheists have different views much like Christians. So to categorize a worldview and assume it on your opponent or dialogue partner, if you will, is presumptuous. Just talk, listen, respond, be honest. Those things go a longer way than lying, being loud, and acting like a douche.