If anyone among you thinks he is religious, and does not bridle his tongue but deceives his own heart, this one’s religion is useless. – James 1:26

As a Christian, one of the most important things that needs to change, when it comes to having a conversation about God with an Atheist, is this ‘holier-than-than-thou-art’ mentality. What I mean by this is, Christianity, just like any other belief system, has the tendency to create an ‘us vs them’ stance. Many Christians see those who don’t believe in God as wrong, plain and simple. Because Christians know they have the truth, and they just know that Jesus is the answer to everything, then everything else doesn’t matter by default.

The Christian might think: “Why should I care about what you believe if I already have the truth? You need to do what I say and believe in Jesus!”

While Christians might not use those exact words, they’re stance often times comes off as arrogant and cold.

If you truly are your brother’s keeper, and you truly love your fellow man, then you want to help those who don’t believe in God to understand the joy that comes with having Jesus in their life. Which means things like your pride, your insecurities, and even your own beliefs need to take a backseat.

But, you might ask, “how can I preach the Word if I put my own beliefs second? Isn’t the whole point of ministering to share the truth with these people?

And my answer would be, “Yes and no.”

Yes, they may want truth; but also No, because it isn’t you that’s going to give it to them. Only God knows the truth. Our job isn’t to give truth to anyone, our job is to love our neighbor as ourselves.

The first thing that needs to happen is a change in the idea that Atheists don’t believe in anything. While they may not believe in what you believe, they do believe in many things. Some of the most kind, generous, loving, and all-around good people are Atheists. What’s even more, Atheists who do good things for others don’t do them expecting some kind of heavenly reward, or godly recognition, they simply do it because it is the right thing to do. And if that isn’t the true essence of Jesus’ teachings, I don’t know what is.

When the Christian labels an Atheist as a ‘non-believer,’ what they are essentially doing is perpetuating a false narrative; in other words, making it seem as if they are unable to believe. This is simply not true. What has happened is an Atheist has placed their hope in something else. While there are many reasons people choose not believe in God, the one thing that is across-the-board true among all those who don’t believe in God is: it doesn’t make sense to them. They simply can’t wrap their brain around it. To the Atheist, belief systems like Christianity seem absurd, or antiquated, or in many cases even self-contradictory.

I remember one conversation I had when I was an Atheist. In it, I asked a very common question to my Christian friend: 

I first said to him, “I could never be a Christian because the Bible contradicts itself all the time.

How so?,” he asked.

Well, look at the Old Testament. God is killing people all over the place. But then, all of a sudden, Jesus shows up in the New Testament and it’s all peace and love. So, which is it? Why is it OK for God to kill everybody, and then he says for everybody to love their enemies. That doesn’t make any sense.

Now, if your first reaction to this question would have been to take out the Bible and start preaching, you already lost. Or, if your reaction to this question is to start defending God by saying things like, “You don’t understand, we don’t know how God works. We just have to have faith and be obedient to His will;” then, again, you have already lost.

Too many times, the Christian is trying to explain God in ways that cannot be explained. What that means is, the Atheist is speaking a language of logic and reasoning, and the Christian is speaking a language of faith and belief. Oftentimes, I’ve found it sadly amusing to see a Christian attempt to explain why he or she believes in God, or Jesus, using deductive reasoning, or so called “evidence” of the Bible being true. If you have a habit of doing this yourself, please stop. It’s not working and you look ridiculous.

Christian Apologetics is only good for reinforcing your own beliefs. If you choose to believe in Jesus, and some archaeological finding appears to back up what you already believe in, then great! But, the vast majority of the time, when your goal is to present a rational argument in the defense of Christian beliefs, then you are not spreading the Gospel, you are defending it from attack. And the last time I checked, words like ‘defend’ and ‘attack’ were associated with fighting and contention, and contention hardly ever converted anyone.

I have had conversations with Christian Apologists, and the scripture that gets thrown around a lot is 1 Peter 3:15, which says, “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear.” But, if you read this scripture carefully, does it say we should give a defense of God, or Christianity? No, it doesn’t. It says we should be ready to explain (i.e. give a defense), to those who ask us, why we choose to follow Jesus (i.e. a reason for the hope that is in us). It doesn’t say go out and prove God exists, it simply says tell people why YOU believe in Jesus. That’s it!

When I would ask Christians why they believed, a lot of times I would simply hear, “because it’s true!” And then they’d leave it at that. I heard others try and explain their belief through Bible scriptures, mainly while preaching to me what they believe, but not necessarily why they believe it (e.g. the Apologists). But then, that would lead me to the say, “OK, great! There’s all this evidence about the Bible, but what does that have to do with you?” When I was in South America, most people I asked would tell me they were Christian because their parents were Christian. While this seems like a very logical conclusion, it didn’t really help me at all.

In places like the United States, because it is a country with such an abundance of wealth, we often forget just how much we rely on God for everything that we need. Thus, when we are faced with a challenging question like, “why do you believe in God,” we may be quick to forget the real reason why we believe; or, rather, the reason why we should believe in God. I would venture to say that the vast majority of Christians, especially those living in the United States, believe what they believe simply because that’s what was introduced to them at a young age. You are a Christian because you were told what to believe! If a person is born in Afghanistan, and you had to guess what religion they were, would you say Scientology?

Now, are there Scientologists in Afghanistan? I don’t know . . . maybe? But, that’s not the point. Most of the time, your culture shapes your belief system; but these beliefs are not personal to you. Hence, they are not your beliefs, they are your culture.

How many Christian households raise children in their church only to see them become Atheists when they are grown? How many Atheists raise their children in a home that doesn’t promote any form of religious doctrine, only to see them grow up and believe in God? In short, we shouldn’t confuse personal conviction with external influence. Christianity should be a unique experience, a private experience.

On one occasion, when Jesus was talking to the Pharisees, he explained, “The kingdom of God does not come with observation . . . For indeed, the kingdom of God is within you” (Luke 17:20-21).

If you can’t feel God in your heart, or if you can’t recognize His influence in your life, then all the Bible scriptures and church attendance in the world isn’t going to do you a bit of good.

A perfect example of why someone believes in God was illustrated to me many years ago by a young woman living in one of the poorest parts of Ecuador.

She was a single mother living in a cane shack, with a dirt floor. She had one small foam mattress for her and her child, a small table for cooking, and three plastic chairs. I asked her where her husband was, she said that he had left her about a year prior. I asked her if she had any family. She said she never knew her father, and her mother left her when she was a little girl to immigrate to the United States. She grew up with her grandmother who later died of a stroke. I asked her how she supports herself. She told me that there were many months where she had no idea how she would be able to feed her child, let alone herself. But, somehow, she always had just enough to survive. I asked her if she believed in God. While holding her one-year-old daughter in her arms, she looked me in the eyes and said, “of course I believe in God.”

When I asked her why, she replied, “because He’s the only thing I have.”

Up until that moment, I had never personally experienced anything in life where God was literally the only thing I had. I grew up in a privileged country, in a home that always had food in the kitchen, and a warm, comfortable bed for me to sleep in. But this young woman never had any of those things. Her only hope was for a benevolent God to provide the things that she needed for her tiny family to survive . . . and she was grateful for everything she received!

Whether I realized it or not, for a long time, I struggled to find a personal answer to such a simple question:

Why am I a Christian?

Perhaps I never had an answer, which is most likely why I turned away from Christianity, and God, all together. But, after much soul searching, much introspection, much mediation and prayer, and a whole lot of struggle, I finally found my answer. . .

. . . because it works for me.

Subjective reasoning is basically my opinion. Regardless of what it is based upon, in the end, it’s mine. The things that I have experienced, and the pain that I have gone through, have lead me to trust in Jesus. While I may not know all the answers to all the things that absolutely make no sense about the Bible, or Christianity in general, that doesn’t matter to me. I have found comfort and joy in the God of the Bible.

You can debate all you want with someone about the merits of Christianity, or the evidence for or against it, but at the end of the day, the debate itself becomes the focus, not God.

When Paul wrote to the Corinthians, he asked, “Examine yourselves as to whether you are in the faith. Test yourselves. Do you not know yourselves, that Jesus Christ is in you?” (2 Corinthians 13:5) So I ask you, is Jesus Christ in you?

Are you sharing your beliefs, your parent’s beliefs, your culture’s beliefs? Are you sharing Christian dogma or so-called “archaeological evidence?”

OR, are you sharing Christ who is in you?

I tried being an Atheist and I didn’t get much out of it. Christ keeps me centered. Christ’s teachings in the Bible give me personal clarity and focus. I know why I am a Christian . . . do you?

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11 Comments

  1. It’s human nature to hope that something will take care of you. That’s is what religion preys on, that desire by those who are poor and suffering. When atheists (no need for a capital A) see Christians insisting that their god takes care of them in a disaster and then pretending that this god *didn’t* evidently allowed other people to die, we see little more than greed and selfishness in the claimant. Lots of people don’t have enough to survive, and they die, no god helping them at all.

      1. Religion is the worship of a god and all theists practice one. A lot of you don’t like to admit that you are part of a religion since your predecessors have not done good things in the name of your religion. That’s when the common claim of a “relationship not a religion” comes into play. That doesn’t convince atheists of much since you are trying to change the meaning of a word for your convenience.

        As an atheist, I don’t have a bone to pick with your god since it doesn’t exist. What I do stand up against is baseless claims made by Christians that hurt people. AS for this question you claimed to have asked “if there are starving children in Africa, and people praying for the end of war or suffering in their countries, why would God ignore their prayers and answer your relatively insignificant one?“” it’s perfectly reasonable to ask it, since we have Christians claiming far more petty things than alcoholism. I get to see Christians claim that they are healed all of the time of things they have no evidence of ever suffering, and funny how their god can’t heal one soldier who lost limbs by an IED, or a child with a inoperable brain tumor.

        Atheists (again no need for a capital A) have reason to doubt since no Christian can show that their version is the right one, and their claims of how things work (with their god) are yet to be backed up with evidence.

        If you would wish to claim some scientific theory is wrong, please do. I’d like to see your evidence to support your claims.

        Since Christians can’t even convince each other about their various versions, there isn’t much reason for a non-Christian, including atheists, to believe them.

      2. Your argument about religion makes sense, it’s a bone that I’ve been picking for years and years! I hate to use the word religion because the meaning of the word has evolved into what we have today: political organizations that have hijacked spirituality and sell it the masses.
        As for “healing,” that one perplexes me too. Why doesn’t God heal amputees? Or, maybe He does and there hasn’t been any documented evidence of it . . . if we’re being truly objective, there is that possibility. But, if someone comes to me and says they were healed, I don’t have to agree with them, and I don’t have to be a jerk about either. They had a positive, personal experience, I don’t see the need to put it down simply to promote my personal opinion.
        As for versions of Christianity, it’s kind of like fast food restaurants. Everyone’s got a favorite one (mine is Taco Bell), but they’re all pretty much bad for you. Just in case you cared (as an atheist, I know I never cared), but just in case, I don’t subscribe to any denomination in particular. I don’t like to get preached to, and I certainly don’t feel a need to donate any money to them, either.
        At the end of the day, Christianity does A LOT of good as a spiritual belief system. People are fed, clothed, and sheltered everyday by Christian organizations. Sadly, the ones we often hear about are the ones who steal, lie, and are all around corrupt. I guess it’s kind of like Islam, if all you hear about are suicide bombers then people tend to think Islam condones terrorism.

      3. Do you really think that no one would mention being healed of an amputation?

        I was a Christian, presbyterian type.

        if you accept the claim of someone who is making a false claim, and pass it along so other people believe that they can be healed, then you harm people, no matter what “positive personal experience” they claimed to have. For example, I was always told that if you prayed the right way, you’d get your prayers answered, just like it claims in the bible. When that doesn’t happen, then the person praying assumes they are at fault, not that the claim in the bible is no different than the claims of healing from every other religion that fail.

        Christianity does not do a lot of good as a belief system. If your claims were true, my local mission wouldn’t have to ask the entire community to help it; the Christians would take care of it. That doesn’t happen. Christians look to their book to spread the false claim that somehow being homosexual is magically bad, that being another religion is going to get one sent to hell, etc. Christianity is not all sweetness and light. That’s what I stand against, nonsense made up by ignorant xenophobes from thousands of years ago being used to harm people now.

        Islam does condone terrorism, just like Christianity with the threats of hell and the promise that every non-christian will be killed. I’ve read the bible, and know what this god approves of.

        You claim hat you are a Christian and that your blog is Christian mission work. Missionary work is trying to spread your sect of Christianity.

      4. I don’t presume to know what anyone would share, about anything. If I was cured of an amputation, and started telling people about it, would you believe me?
        You’re kind of generalizing which makes it difficult to have a conversation . . . that’s not a critic of your viewpoint, more of a lack of ability on my part to respond.
        Perpetuating falsehoods is a problem, in fact, some people make a good living out of it (**cough cough** mainstream media **cough cough**). It’s sad and disgraceful. So, I’m right there with you on that one.
        Does Christianity do harm? Of course. Does it do good? Also yes. Does Islam condone terrorism? . . . no it doesn’t. But, we’ll have to disagree on that one, no point in going back and forth on that one.
        As for the Bible, it is pretty horrific, and has A LOT of stories that blatantly seem to condone rape, genocide, and all of the other worst parts of humanity. But it also condones kindness, charity, and love. So, what do we do with it? Is the good so good in the Bible that we excuse the evil? Is the evil so evil that we ignore the good? That’s a great philosophical debate that’s been going on forever . . . and since I’m not an apologist, I’m not even going to attempt an answer.
        Maybe that’s why so many people like Game of Thrones LOL. There’s no clear “good guy.”

      5. The question is would your fellow believers believe you. Would they?

        As for “mainstream media” what falsehoods have they perpetrated?

        Both Christianity and Islam say that nonbelievers should die and that they will go to hell if they don’t obey. Terrorism: using fear to control behavior.

        The little good in the bible was around far longer than the bible. We don’t need the hate and ignorance it tries to spread. You are an apologist since you want to accept the parts of the bible you like and ignore the parts you don’t. The magic promises of never dying are pretty attractive.

      6. Most of my fellow believers most likely wouldn’t believe me. They might say they’d believe me, but deep down, they probably wouldn’t. That’s a great philosophical question of actually “living your religion.” God tells Abraham to kill his son and Christians are cool with that. If somebody I know was going to kill their son, because God told them to do it, I would question their sanity LOL.
        The mainstream media quip, I thought, was a good example . . . apparently you don’t share my sentiments. Oh well.
        Your argument about terrorism is interesting, using fear to control behavior. While A LOT of organizations (including the media – sorry, had to go there LOL) use fear to shape behavior. The only problem with that argument is, again, it generalizes. I wasn’t scared into following Jesus. A lot of other people I know weren’t scared INTO Christianity. But, you’re right, a lot of people HAVE been scared into believing (or at least staying in a particular church).
        You are also correct about good existing before the Bible. In fact, if the Bible never existed at all, would the world be better or worse? Another great philosophical question worthy of a debate.
        As for being an apologist, they attempt to use “evidence” to PROVE God and the Bible, I don’t. But, if you need to call me an apologist, it’s all good. I won’t be offended lol

      7. I’ll answer you in depth later, but I do have to ask: you are a Christian, your blog states it. Why do you talk about Christians as if you are not one of them?

      8. Because I used to be an atheist . . . and it takes a lot for me to just be the type of Christian that maintains the status quo. There are a TON of things that Christians need to change, and instead of attacking them, I choose to be a part of the solution. To me, Christ’s teachings have SO much good to offer the world, but Christianity has been corrupted by greed, hypocrisy, ignorance, and a whole host of other problems. At the end of the day, I’m not just towing a party line like some blind “defender of faith,” I call it like I see it, the good and the bad.

      9. Christ supposedly said that the noble who returned to be king (him in the parable) wants those who accept him to bring people who disagree with him before him and then murder them. We also have Christ slaughtering anyone who doesn’t agree with him in Revelation. The few good things Christ supposedly said were around far longer than he supposedly was and long before him. No need to keep the hate which is the basis of Christianity.

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