Thursday, January 9, 2014

Tactics in Dialoguing with Militant Atheists

After I posted this brief essay (below), an atheist reiterated the same challenge that many do: “Well, you first have to prove your god exists!” 

If you’ve have tried to present proofs to militant atheists, you know how disappointing this can be. No matter how weighty your proof, the atheist can still quibble with it. This might not reflect a problem with your proof but a problem with all proofs in general – that none are ever airtight and unassailable.

Rather than engaging in this frustrating process, in many cases I’ve opted by placing the burden of proof on the atheist: “First prove that you exist! This will prove to me that it is even worthwhile for me to attempt to prove that God exists.” Of course, they never can prove this to my satisfaction. The dialogue that follows this post illustrates this fact.

You ask for proof of God’s existence. I’ve answered that the proof is all around us – in the stars, the trees, the laws of nature, our bodies and feelings - available for the seeing. However, I prefer contextualized proof – the proof that arises by itself in the very midst of our conversation. Let me take an example.

You vilify Christians. I’m not talking about you specifically but about the treatment that Christians uniformly receive in the blog-Facebook world. How do we understand such behavior among people who strenuously insist that they are good without God? These are also people who boast of being tolerant and open-minded – people who pride themselves on being open to all forms of lifestyles! Why then the disconnect? The hypocrisy?

Let’s add to this another observation – the need to prove or justify ourselves, often by putting others down. Is there a simple and parsimonious way to explain these observations? Our awareness of our guilt, shame, and sense that we deserve judgment – the very things that the Bible claims we know! These are our underlying motivators – the causes of our inconsistencies – and also those things that serve to justify the biblical worldview.

We Christians serve as reminders of this reality. You project your guilt and shame on us as if we are the cause of them.  This is what happened to our Lord Jesus. He explained that He was hated because He revealed the truth to people about themselves, and He was crucified for this. Jesus warned that this would also become our fate.

But I say this, not to condemn you, but to shed some light upon your plight and the remedy we all have through our Savior who died for us, paying the price for our sins.

ATHEIST: You still have not shown me any evidence that god exists.

ME:  Well, if you prove you exist, I'll prove God exists.

ATHEIST: I asked for evidence not proof. And when I say evidence, I mean real evidence, not bad logical arguments.

ME:  "Proof?"  "Evidence?" The same problem still adheres to both - that all of your evidence for your own existence remains assailable in the same way that my evidence for God remains assailable to the quibbler… Nevertheless, there were many substantial reasons that this Jew adopted a faith in Christ, one of which was an encounter with Christ.

ATHEIST:  Daniel, do you honestly think that there is a direct comparison between whether I exist, and whether god or Jesus exists? Clearly you have more evidence for me existing than for god or Jesus.

ME:   Then prove yourself! Prove that you are not simply a bio-chemical robot. Or perhaps you are just an expression of a Buddhist matrix. Consistent with this, please define your use of the word "I." What is this thing you call "I?"

ATHEIST: Why do I have to prove that I'm not a bio-chemical robot in order for you to be convinced that I exist? Why couldn't "I" be that bio-chemical robot.

ME:  First, you have to define the "I" before you can prove that this "I" exists. Please understand, in the case that you are robotic, we must cease this dialogue immediately, since I do not correspond with robots. Therefore, your proof represents more than just a passing interest.

ATHEIST:  Just think of everything that you normally think of when thinking of a human being, minus the invisible soul that we have no evidence for and that makes little sense.    Can you prove to me that anyone has a soul? We know our physical bodies exist, but we don't have any evidence for a soul, therefore the burden of proof is on you to put forth evidence of the existence of the soul.

ME:   So you will not even try to prove that you exist? Fine, but don't even dare to challenge us for a proof or evidence that God exists!!!

ATHEIST:  Daniel, is this a silly attempt to absolve yourself from having to provide proof that god exists? It's rather juvenile. Why is it that you don't think I exist?

ME:  As I believe that God exists, I also believe that you exist. However, we are talking about proof. Once again, if you refuse to prove that you exist, you are not in any position to taunt me that I cannot prove that God exists.

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