devotional

05JAN
2020

A Question of Common Ground With the Professing Atheist

I thought it might benefit someone here to see an exchange between a professing atheist and myself. I don’t believe in atheists, but they claim to exist. As Christians, we must help this group of souls see our position as much as is within our power to create positive interaction with them.

The following posts are a of a resultant conversation I had after posting a video to Biblecia.com on Facebook. The interaction happened over a few days and posts may have days, hours or just minutes between.

I posted the following video to this ministry’s Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/Biblecia/videos/811099779313632/

Many responses flowed in. Most of no substance.

Tim P:

So, essentially, you’re asking us to believe in an imaginary voice which you started hearing 17 years ago? Seriously? 🙄

Tim P again:

The Bible is the word of God, yes? Ok… why aren’t the Dinosaurs mentioned? Or the millions of years between the actual formation of the Earth and the beginning of Life? 🤔

My response:

In 17 years of life in Christ and a developing call to ministry I’d say it’s been 12 since I’ve been asked anything new. Those questions have been long asked and answered by many far smarter than me. Thanks for asking. These indeed are questions we all deal with when approaching the Almighty. Like a child asking an advanced engineer who’s designed a space ship what the “on/off” button does, we all need to ask. A quick reply: 1) There is no certain proof of billions of years in the world’s history. In fact, there are many scientific and cosmological evidences against the idea. Whoever has the most money in the argument seems the victor for many, settling for as “proofs” the works of hired graphic designers. So, until you get a fact here, don’t insult facts with fictions. 2) Dinosaurs are mentioned, I believe, though not exhaustively. See Job 40:15-24. Yes, the Bible is the word of God. Unlike any other collection of writings they bear a thousand utterly undeniably unique evidences of such, and all point to Jesus. The Bible isn’t a text book for a typical classroom. We have plenty of those. Everywhere it speaks of how the world works, in ways reflecting reality sometimes thousands of years before men put names to it, it gets it right every single time. Because the God who made it all wrote it. An oldie but a goodie here that centers on some of this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zNKdyvKEfAI

Tim P:

Brilliant! Thanks for the patronising comment – how very tolerant and ‘Christian’ of you! So the absence of a species which dominated the Earth for thousands of years (and I would suggest that fossils and the scientific carbon dating thereof should be proof enough that the earth is significantly older than the bible claims) is the equivalent of certain species of the current epoch not getting a mention?
Ok… as the old saying goes: ‘You can’t argue with crazy.”

My response:

From the outset of your 1st response you set yourself clearly on that long gray line of forgone conclusion. Speaking against God as so many think they’ll get away with. You are literally storing up wrath for yourself. You and I both know you put no time into any of this. I would bet my bile duct you watched less than a minute of this video before you “asked your questions”. You ask nothing. You only accuse from your armchair. Men like you are dead. Hopeless. Answering you in love or truth is met with scorn and ridicule.

Grace to you. I bring you the message of eternal life. You do with it what you will. You surely won’t answer to me in the end, sir. If you want to talk, I’m in. Otherwise, hit the laugh emoji again, post your “sky-daddy” rant and take care. Happy new year.

Tim P:

What I will never be able to understand is why you feel that YOUR foregone conclusion is right and MY foregone conclusion is wrong. I’ll tell you what; I’m willing to meet you half way. You let go of your certainty and admit that there’s a possibility that your beliefs are erroneous and I’ll do the same about mine.

My response:

I’ve considered your proposition. You propose that if I admit that maybe I’m wrong about Christ you’d meet me there. That if I’d do this you’d admit you could also be wrong about your views (mind you I’m not even sure what those are so I’d need you to tell me to be sure). I’m going to assume a professed atheism based on your comments and manner of commenting thus far. Based on your stated country online (I assume it’s that of your origin) I’m going to further surmise that you likely had some familial or cultural background in some form of Christian heritage as a kid and that you’d say you’ve since just, “Grown out of such fairy tales.” Such views shape statements like yours. My answers would be much easier to convey verbally, and so I invite you to a civil discussion. We could record it and share it. Even if you’d not stoop down to such a level with a barbarian, if you hear me out here maybe we can come to some truer ground upon which to reason together. Writing back and forth in this medium is just too limited. It’s a start, but usually quickly fails. What’s more likely from you (as with most professing atheists online) is an insulting meme or comment back, a laughing emoji response, and me reminding myself that my response to you here is actually, in the providence of God, for someone else. We’ll see. Perhaps it’s both.

I’m torn between wanting to converse with you (always with individuals) and my understanding of how that’s constructively possible. I’m just a man. Sure. I can make mistakes and often have. I am not infallible. And so, I might assume based on this that saying what you’d have me say (that I might be wrong) could in fact create a middle ground for us, but I know that it can’t and wouldn’t.

If you’ve not already stopped reading, or, like so many today began your response already at my first sentence, consider the following analogy pertaining. If we were looking at a painting of a cityscape together, it’s one thing for me to admit that I may be wrong about its painter. Something that based on the proofs you present I might quickly concede. It’s quite another thing for you to ask me to admit that maybe no one painted it. The latter I couldn’t assume even for a moment without separating reason from reality.

Overall, my claim is likely fundamentally unlike yours I think. And I’ll prove it. Your overall claim is based on what you do by your own collected logic. Pure you-centric logic only as old and as sure as you are because you ascribe to no fixed external absolute reality. You can’t as an atheist. And I’m not sure what you do for a living or what occupies your discretionary time. Like most today, you may speak on matters like this out of pure ignorance. Everyone’s a “scientist” these days because they graduated high school and/or have an I-phone. Or everyone’s a “theologian” these days because they took an intro to religion class in a business college. I’d like to get to know where you come from on all this better. I don’t want to pigeonhole you, or assume that I know you because of a few back and forth comments. A talk would do far more to learn of each other than writing. So, on with my assumptions from your proposition. I digress. You (likely) claim that the collected ideas of those you’ve heard and acquiesced to coalesce the facts around you into a much more palatable position than I have as a Christian. My claim, however, is not the same as yours. I too learn from the world around me, but my claim is that the Bible is true in all that it addresses. That it is God’s words, and not man’s. I’m right on anything it addresses only insofar as I rightly construe it, and to that end I’m most humbly open to challenge. I can and have made mistakes there. Other data, which needn’t be from the Bible, can and should assist or instruct me in all understanding. My claim is that under the Bible the ideas of those I’ve acquiesced to in my own personal reasoning amalgamate the facts into a much more palatable position than yours. But my basis for my understanding is ultimately much higher than my own feeble and errant reasoning. My reasoning is ultimately supernatural. It’s not like yours. This is why there’s no neutrality between us. You ask that I surrender what I know in order to understand the world, but why should I? You claim that your reason can take me into the end zone; part of my claim back is that reason alone cannot. We need Jesus. By pure reason, in which I often deal, I argue that I can only take a man out to about the 10-yard line. God’s Spirit alone brings him into the end zone. So, faith (true faith, not just data) is a life that appropriates the data by the Spirit of God. If I were to deny this as you’d have me do I’d be reducing it down to the level of my own personal reasoning. But it’s not based on my reasoning, so no, I’m not possibly wrong, because I’m not coming to you with my own opinions…unlike you. It’s not like your claim therefore. You have no *absolute truth* in your worldview. I do as a Christian. Everyone can be wrong only in your view. You ask me to only look left and right to define reality. In Jesus’ teaching, he’ll show you how to look left, right and up. You claim, whether you mean to or not, that you can show me what reality actually is. You. Little old you because you’ve figured it out. A bold claim! I’ll gladly point you beyond myself.

Like you, however, I have looked at the facts around me as well as the evidences presented to me in my life and have to do with them what I can. I’m open to challenge in all of this, but I can’t surrender my post and still keep it. And unlike you, by the way, I shouldn’t sincerely hope that I’m wrong.

So, instead of me committing a faith/knowledge-based-intellectual-suicide by playacting for the sake of argument that God’s word might be wrong here let me do a more Christ-centered thing and instead ask that you actually take some time to consider our message. To reason with me further on it. Many men today clearly don’t. Be the exception. I’m sure that it’s Jesus’ message I’m bringing you, and to him that I’ll point you. Nothing in the Christian Faith is opposed to reason, but naturalists are simply unreasonable. I don’t have a “blind faith.” My faith is based on truth, history, wisdom and the reality I see around me every day. Despite this, it isn’t some hypothesis that if one with his own intellect simply looks into he’ll surely see. No one (you neither) by the way has that. You have an argument. Nothing more.

So, there is no middle ground, and you are no more neutral than I am. A faked neutrality would be of no advantage to either of us, and I myself would be betraying God who does not bow down to me for me to “decide whether or not he’s real” in my universe if I did. What we can do is discuss it all like fallible men. So, if you’d like to examine the evidences I would present to you and allow me to hear yours, I’m all in. I really am. My first name is Joe. But I cannot commit intellectual suicide. Ball’s in your court.

———————a few days later———————

Nothing further developed unfortunately. The gentleman did respond with slightly more cordiality than is typical of his position, but would not engage in public discussion. Pray for Tim P if you would. God bless.

 

One response to “A Question of Common Ground With the Professing Atheist”

  1. Joseph Pittano says:

    I would do all I could in love to reach out to the professing atheist.

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