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Answering atheism | How can a Christian talk to an atheist?



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Updated: Nov 17

There is no evidence for God!
Show me the evidence!
If there is a proof for God's existence why doesn't everyone believe in God?
The Bible belongs in the trash section of the bookstore!
The Bible is just a collection of thoughts of stone age people who didn't know any better
I believe in science: that which is repeatable, testable and verifiable.

For readers who identify as atheists, I understand and respect your perspective. I acknowledge that no argument I present may change your beliefs. According to the Bible, we are all influenced by sin and this blinds us to the things of God. The distinction between me and you as described in the Bible, is the grace of God. My aim in this article is to share a Christian perspective and general critique of atheism, hoping it resonates with some, and perhaps plants a seed for further reflection.

I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you shall be clean from all your uncleannesses, and from all your idols I will cleanse you. And I will give you a new heart, and a new spirit I will put within you. And I will remove the heart of stone from your flesh and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes and be careful to obey my rules.

Ezekiel 36: 25-27, ESV

I invite you to reflect deeply on the ideas presented in this article. While the concepts may seem familiar in our daily lives, this piece encourages a deeper exploration of how we perceive reality.

It's essential for you to understand that my intentions are rooted in genuine concern and care. When Christians share the Gospel or discuss sin and the need for repentance, it's not out of bigotry or malice. We believe we have insights into addressing sin and the path to eternal life. If we genuinely believe in the significance of Christ's atonement, it would be contrary to our values to remain silent. As you read on, please remember that my goal isn't to persuade, but to express genuine care and concern.

The main thrust of atheism

A common refrain among atheists is the demand for "observable, objective, and repeatable" evidence for God, often reflecting their strong allegiance to science as the primary means of discerning truth.

Matt Dillahunty, a prominent atheist speaker and host, frequently challenges Christians and theists to present tangible evidence for their beliefs. Central to his argument is the idea that beliefs should be grounded in demonstrable and verifiable evidence. Dillahunty emphasizes that if one is to make extraordinary claims about the existence of a deity or supernatural occurrences, those claims should be supported by extraordinary evidence. In many of his discussions and debates, he invites believers to meet this challenge, advocating for a rational and evidence-based approach to religious beliefs.

In this article, I aim to highlight that evidence for God doesn't (and cannot) align with the conventional evidence we encounter in the natural realm and that the evidence of the Christian God must be found elsewhere (by necessity). My argument will be that without God, there wouldn't be a foundational basis for the scientific method and rational exploration in the first place. The evidence for the Christian God is that if He did not exist, nothing would make sense.

Science is defined as follows:

Science (from the Latin word scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

Online Etymology Dictionary

The scientific method is defined as follows:

  1. Pose a question.

  2. Conduct background research.

  3. Formulate a hypothesis.

  4. Experiment to test the hypothesis.

  5. Analyze the gathered data and results.

  6. Share the findings.

Now, let's move to consider the foundational requirements for this scientific method to operate effectively (i.e., to produce reliable results). What foundational elements must be present for us (in our minds and reality as a whole) to employ the scientific method and assess evidence objectively?

It's crucial to highlight that this inquiry does not challenge the validity of the scientific method or suggest that atheists cannot critically analyze evidence. Instead, we are probing the essential conditions required for such evaluations. This line of reasoning aligns with what is termed a "transcendental argument." Like there are beams that hold up a home, so there are certain foundational truths that hold up the scientific method - and that we aim to expose.

A transcendental argument is a deductive philosophical argument which takes a manifest feature of experience as granted, and articulates which must be the case so that experience as such is possible.

For example, in order for there to be a carpet on the floor, there needs to be a floor. We know there is a carpet lying there, therefore, there is a floor.

In a similar fashion, the transcendental argument takes things that each and every one of us know and take for granted, and asks, "What must be in place for this to actually function this way?"

Scott Oliphint wrote in his book, Covenantal Apologetics, that

What is rational and what is evidential depend, first of all, on where one presumes to stand to make such objections and challenges...

The "atheistic" worldview

Atheists/agnostics like to claim that "there is no evidence for God". Evidence can be defined as:

The available body of facts or information indicating whether a belief or proposition is true or valid.

So now using our transcendental approach, we are fully in the right to ask, "What must be the case for the above definition to hold in reality?" A few words stand out in the prior definition:

  • Facts

  • Information

  • Truth

  • Valid

When demanding evidence, the atheist (and everyone else in every situation where evidence is used) is making the implicit assumption that we have access to objective facts (reality), that we can process the facts to provide us with information (i.e, the facts can be systemised), we can then reason (logically) about this information in order to determine whether a proposition is true or not.

A fact is defined as

A thing that is known to be consistent with objective reality and can be proven to be true with evidence

Therefore, the concept of facts also assumes that we have access to objective reality.

So the definitions of fact and evidence require us to be able to:

  • Have access to objective reality

  • Reason correctly

And it also assumes

  • Universally applicable, immaterial, unchanging laws of logic, as if we had no logic (or if you deny the attributes of logic as traditionally understood), then the fact cannot be systemised and cannot be known. If the laws or not universally applicable, there is no point in two people reasoning about a fact. If the facts are not unchanging, there is no point in arguing about the facts now, or ever.

  • We can know objective truth (i.e., that facts can only be systemised in one way). If the facts cannot be systemised, or if they can be systemised in various ways, you cannot "know" the facts.

Is it possible for "atheism" to ground the concepts of "facts" and "evidence"?

To address this question, it's important first to establish a definition of atheism. For my atheist friends who might have differing opinions, please bear with me if you find the definition not entirely aligned with your views, as I recognize there are various perspectives on what characterizes an atheist.

Atheism is generally defined as:

[A] disbelief or lack of belief in the existence of God or gods.

In this context, for simplicity, atheists and agnostics can be grouped under a single "worldview" category. This category is defined by the belief or assumption that the Christian God does not exist. This is based on the Christian doctrine, which states that God's creatures inherently know Him. Therefore, when an atheist or agnostic professes not to know God, it implicitly suggests the presupposition that the Christian God does not exist, as per the Christian understanding.

For atheists, the question arises: is it possible to access objective reality in principle? In discussions I've had, many atheists seem to agree that the answer is no. This perspective aligns with the atheistic viewpoint, where an individual's reasoning and experiences are seen as the ultimate authority, and where the facts are brute facts (i.e., exist apart from a system as they are uncreated facts). Brute facts (uncreated facts), cannot be known as they depend on Pure Chance for their existence. The atheist in principle believes in a realm where particular facts/things exist but are devoid of any systematic structure (or intention), as they are what they are because of some abstract principle of Pure Chance, not creation.

In principle, every action and every thought in this world stands isolated without a coherent framework (which can only be granted by creation). The very act of identifying something presupposes a stable reference point, a systemic structure. But in a world dominated by Chance, such reference points are elusive (see David Hume's work). The identity of "you" and even the ground you tread on are all fleeting, lacking any anchoring intention. It's a world where "things" float, unmoored from any definable system.

The reflections of Ann Druyan, wife of the renowned late atheist Carl Sagan, on life, love, and death epitomize this worldview. Contemplating Carl's death, she wrote: "We knew we were beneficiaries of chance... That pure chance could be so generous and so kind." Yet, when delving deeper into the philosophy of Pure Chance, contradictions arise. To express gratitude or to identify oneself within a narrative implies a consistent self and an identifiable other. How can one anchor such sentiments in a world where particulars stand without a system?

The essence of Pure Chance doesn't merely challenge our understanding of reality and predictability, it erodes the very bedrock of existence. In this realm, every element, every thought, and every emotion becomes unidentifiable, drifting aimlessly in the vast expanse of the abstract particular. This world is like beads with no holes in them such that they cannot be strung together in a system. Each bead becomes an unidentifiable brute fact.

Some atheists argue that their understanding isn't solely based on personal reasoning but also on the collective reasoning of others, as exemplified by processes like peer review. However, this doesn't fully resolve the issue, as it requires one to first use personal reasoning to evaluate the validity of others' reasoning, and peer review doesn't help the situation if the brute facts already resist the very concept of being systemised. You cannot peer review Pure Chance. Peer review presupposed stability, meaning, truth...

So how does the atheist know that we can reason correctly and truthfully (that their thoughts correspond to the objective world, and that their logical inferences are universal and also correspond to reality)? The atheist cannot ground the concept of reasoning given his denial of the Christian God. The metanarrative of the atheist turns out to be self-defeating. Even attempts for the atheist to reason about his reasoning turn out to be self-refuting unless the atheistic metanarrative is abandoned.

The atheist should see that the world in practice, does not align with the metanarrative they have constructed that denies their Creator.

So, what is left for the atheist to do? Embrace the absurdity, or abandon your metanarrative.

If you embrace the absurdity, the demands outlined at the start of this article become absolutely meaningless mumbo jumbo. Recall what they were:" There is no evidence for God!", "Show me the evidence!", "I believe in science: that which is repeatable, testable and verifiable".

Now, let's get a bit more concrete and talk about the disciple atheists claim to love so much: science!

Is it possible for "atheism" to ground the discipline of "science"?

Let's recap our definition of science, and as you read it, see if you can infer the problems with this definition if you attempt to ground it in an atheistic metanarrative

Science (from the Latin word scientia, meaning "knowledge") is a systematic enterprise that builds and organises knowledge in the form of testable explanations and predictions about the universe.

The critique of the atheistic demand for evidence also applies to the foundational aspects of scientific experimentation. If there isn't a solid basis to justify the preconditions necessary for understanding the concept of evidence, then analyzing the evidence from any experiment becomes problematic, and making predictions off the back of any experiment becomes meaningless.

In particular, we can focus on the problem of induction as raised by the atheistic Scottish empiricist philosopher, David Hume

The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy writes (explained simply later):

We generally think that the observations we make are able to justify some expectations or predictions about observations we have not yet made, as well as general claims that go beyond the observed. For example, the observation that bread of a certain appearance has thus far been nourishing seems to justify the expectation that the next similar piece of bread I eat will also be nourishing, as well as the claim that bread of this sort is generally nourishing. Such inferences from the observed to the unobserved, or to general laws, are known as “inductive inferences”.

The problem of induction essentially questions how we can be certain that future events will mirror past experiences. For instance, if we observe a ball falling now, how can we be sure it will fall again under the same conditions in an hour? A common initial response is to assert that since the future has historically resembled the past, it will likely continue to do so. However, this reasoning is circular, as the statement "the future was always like the past" is itself based on past experiences and thus subject to the same issue.

There is no definitive solution to the problem of induction from an atheistic metanarrative, which casts doubt on the applicability of experimental conclusions to both the past and future. This suggests that science, in principle, cannot provide true knowledge if you attempt to ground it with an atheistic metanarrative. To effectively conduct scientific inquiry, justification for each step of the process is needed. This requires a worldview capable of addressing these fundamental issues.

Is it possible for "atheism" to ground the "laws of logic"?

Atheistic or agnostic perspectives face significant challenges in grounding the laws of logic. As we alluded to earlier, a fundamental aspect of these non-Christian worldviews is the reliance on brute facts. These facts, by their very nature, resist integration into a systematic framework, as they are seen as fundamental and uncaused. This resistance to systematization makes it difficult to establish the kind of consistent, universal principles required for the laws of logic.

However, it's not just that the facts cannot be systemised and such making the laws of logic superfluous, in a worldview where the universe is governed by pure chance or random occurrences, the existence of static, universal, and immaterial laws becomes problematic in and of itself. If the universe is the product of random events and chance, it implies a lack of underlying order or consistency necessary for the laws of logic to be universally applicable. In such a framework, it becomes challenging to argue for immutable laws that apply across all times and contexts, as the very nature of the universe is characterized by flux and contingency.

So, my logical thinking today might differ from yours or my own at a different point in time as the flux of reality continues (although even time itself is not a bedrock on which we can rest the flux). Moreover, there can be no "ought" for reasoning on arguing logically and truthfully even if some principles should somehow (impossibly) be established.

The atheistic metanarrative fails once again.

The Christian worldview

We have already seen that the atheistic worldview cannot provide a foundation for the preconditions of intelligibility. The initial charge for evidence and science as their only way to gain knowledge has been shown to be self-refuting on the grounds of atheism.

The Christian worldview presents a unique foundation for grounding scientific inquiry, the concept of evidence, and the principle of induction. Central to this perspective is the belief in a rational, consistent Creator who established and maintains the laws of nature. This divine consistency implies a predictable and orderly universe, a necessary precondition for scientific exploration.

The Christian doctrine of humans being made in the image of God imparts a capacity for rational thought, enabling the pursuit of scientific knowledge and the interpretation of evidence (in the Christian worldview, there are no brute facts. Facts and systems are equally ultimate in the Christian worldview, such that a fact can be objectively known). In this worldview, the reliability of our senses and cognition, the uniformity of nature, and the validity of inductive reasoning find a coherent and robust justification, aligning with the philosophical and practical necessities of scientific investigation.

Christianity on "evidence" and "fact"

Humans, according to revelation, were designed to understand and interact effectively with creation, necessitating access to objective reality. Additionally, the mandate to exercise dominion over creation implies a leadership or stewardship role. Fulfilling this role effectively would be unfeasible if humans were not endowed by God with the capacity to distinguish between reality and fiction. This inherent ability is crucial for both understanding the world and managing it responsibly.

The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it

Genesis 2:15, ESV

Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

Genesis 1:26-27, ESV

As previously mentioned, God is the creator of all facts, and they are intrinsically interconnected within His eternal plan for the world. Humans, as beings capable of knowledge, are integral to this divine scheme. As bearers of God's image, we mirror our Creator when we organize and interpret the facts around us. This effort aims to align our understanding as closely as possible with God's intended purpose for all aspects of reality. In doing so, we not only comprehend the world more deeply but also fulfil our role in reflecting the divine order and purpose.

Thus, there are no brute facts. Each fact is eternally related to other facts as per the counsel of God. We can systemise, categorise, name etc., whilst knowing that our knowledge of the system that God created will only be deepened and expanded, and not be flat-out contradicted.

Now, reflect deeply on this, compare it with your practical experience, and ask yourself whether the atheistic metanarrative or the Christian metanarrative is more "rational".

Christianity on "science"

The Christian worldview presents a comprehensive solution to the problem of induction, rooted in the belief that God is sovereignly orchestrating all events. This belief is not abstract but is reflected in the tangible regularities of the natural world. The Bible teaches that God is in providential control, ensuring the uniformity of nature. For instance, He is responsible for the cycles of the seasons and the rhythms of day and night, as illustrated in scriptures such as Psalm 104:19 and Genesis 8:22. This divine consistency in nature provides the Christian with a rational basis for expecting regularities, thus underpinning the principle of induction.

Further, the Christian understanding of God as the creator and sustainer of all things, as mentioned in Hebrews 1:3, implies that all facts and events are part of His sovereign plan. This plan imbues history and the future with inherent coherence and significance, systematizing them under God’s divine decree. Such a perspective asserts that there is an intrinsic relationship and purpose in the unfolding of events, which is essential for making sense of induction.

In this light, the Christian worldview offers the preconditions necessary for the intelligibility of science. It provides a stable foundation for expecting consistency in the natural world, a prerequisite for scientific inquiry. While atheism might claim science as its ally, it struggles to justify the uniformity and predictability required for scientific investigation. On the other hand, the Christian framework, with its emphasis on a consistent and purposeful divine order, not only accommodates but actively supports the principles of induction and scientific reasoning. This makes the Christian worldview uniquely positioned to provide a rational justification for the regularities observed in the natural world, which are critical for the practice and advancement of science.

Christianity and the "laws of logic"

The Christian worldview provides a coherent explanation for the existence of immaterial, unchanging, and universally applicable laws of logic, viewing them as contingent on God's nature. These laws of reflective of God's internal self-consistency, and reflect on a creaturely level how God thinks.

This perspective suggests that the laws of logic, such as the law of non-contradiction, are grounded in God's consistent nature. For instance, the Christian doctrine holds that all truth is found in God (Colossians 2:3), and God is self-consistent (2 Timothy 2:13), thereby establishing that truth is inherently non-contradictory. Similarly, the law of identity finds its basis in God's unchanging character, as expressed in Exodus 3:14 ("I am who I am"), implying that truth maintains its identity.

Furthermore, the law of the excluded middle is seen as emanating from the nature of God as the embodiment of truth (John 14:6). Any proposition is therefore either aligned with God’s truth and thus true, or not, and thus false. Biblical narratives, such as the account in Exodus 16:4, reinforce this dichotomy, presenting scenarios where only two distinct outcomes are possible, reflecting the law of the excluded middle.

The universality of these laws is also justified through divine revelation. Being created in the image of God means humans are meant to reflect and glorify Him, which includes adhering to logical thinking. Deviating from logical reasoning would be akin to falsehood, contradicting God's inherently truthful nature. Hence, in the Christian worldview, engaging in logical thinking is not just a cognitive exercise but a fulfilment of the divine mandate to mirror God's truth and consistency. Failure to think logically is thus immoral.

Closing thoughts

At the outset of this article, we acknowledged that persuasion alone might not suffice in altering one's beliefs. This stems from two primary reasons: the influence of sin and the suppression of inherent truth. According to the Christian doctrine, as expressed in Romans 1:18-22, every person inherently knows God, but often, this truth is consciously or unconsciously disregarded in favour of unrighteousness. The Bible teaches that God's wrath is revealed against those who suppress the truth by their wickedness. It further explains that God's eternal power and divine nature have been evident since creation, making His existence undeniable and leaving people without excuse for not acknowledging Him.

This article has attempted to illustrate how our innate understanding of God is revealed through our reliance on the preconditions of intelligibility, which are dependent on Him. However, the barrier of sin often skews this perception. Sin not only separates us from God but also fuels a desire to become our own gods, leading to a rejection of the truth.

I want to emphasize to atheist readers that my Christian faith is not a result of intellectual superiority or argumentative prowess. Many atheists possess brilliant minds, but failing to acknowledge God for this intellect can lead to greater condemnation. My Christianity is rooted in God's mercy, as Ephesians 1 suggests, chosen before the creation of the world.

The issue of sin is profound, and the Christian message offers a path to redemption. About 2000 years ago, Jesus Christ, prophesied since Adam's fall, addressed the sin problem. According to Christian belief, His death on the cross was a substitutionary atonement for our sins, and His resurrection symbolized victory over death.


his act was not just about eternal salvation but also about redeeming our present reasoning. By confessing Jesus as Lord and believing in His resurrection, as stated in Romans 10, one can be saved. This salvation is not just spiritual but also intellectual, rescuing individuals from the pitfalls of flawed reasoning.

Christianity teaches that God, being just, cannot simply overlook sin. It must be addressed either through the acceptance of Christ's sacrifice or by bearing the consequences oneself. This choice presents itself as either accepting Jesus Christ and experiencing salvation both in thought and soul or continuing in atheism, which the Christian worldview views as a path leading to judgment and eternal separation from God.

The message here is one of hope and redemption, an invitation to explore a path that offers both eternal salvation and a renewed understanding of the world, anchored in the Christian faith.

Lingering questions

1. "The question might arise: Can other religions assert similar claims regarding the foundations of knowledge and reality?"

While this is an important consideration, it falls outside the scope of this article, which is primarily directed towards an atheistic audience. The focus here is on how atheists justify their arguments and the preconditions of intelligibility within the confines of their own worldview, particularly one that does not incorporate divine revelation. For an atheist to resort to principles from a different, theistically-based worldview to bolster their atheistic stance would be contradictory. Such an approach would essentially amount to conceding defeat, as it implies a reliance on the very concepts their worldview typically rejects.

2. "Why can't the preconditions of intelligibility simply be assumed without justification?"

Assuming these preconditions without a rational basis renders the assumption arbitrary. An arbitrary assumption opens the door for any opposing view to be equally assumed without justification, leading to a stalemate where contradictory positions hold equal validity, which is illogical. A well-founded reason is necessary to support such assumptions. In the Christian perspective, this foundation is found in revelation; the belief system is grounded in the knowledge revealed by God, providing a solid basis for understanding and accepting these preconditions. Atheists, by the nature of their worldview, cannot resort to divine revelation as a justification, thus facing a challenge in adequately grounding these fundamental assumptions.

3. "I don't believe in God, yet I'm able to reason effectively. How is this possible?"

This statement can be likened to someone who doubts the existence of air, yet acknowledges their ability to breathe. Just as breathing implicitly requires the presence of air, regardless of one's belief in it, logical reasoning inherently depends on certain foundational truths. In the Christian view, these truths are rooted in the existence of God. An atheist can certainly engage in logical reasoning; this capability, from a Christian standpoint, is attributed to God's design of the human mind and the granting of access to the laws of logic. The existence of God is seen as the underpinning factor that makes reasoning possible. While atheists can reason, their worldview faces a challenge in providing a satisfactory explanation for the fundamental basis of this ability. The Christian argument is that God's existence and nature are what enable and validate the process of logical reasoning.

4. "Aren't the laws of logic simply conventions created by humans?"

The notion of conventions implies a mutual agreement or societal consensus, similar to how traffic rules like driving on the right side of the road are agreed upon for orderly conduct. However, if the laws of logic were merely conventional, then, theoretically, different societies could establish different logical systems, just as some countries drive on the left. Under such a premise, certain cultures might accept self-contradiction as valid reasoning, or deem it acceptable for truth to be inherently contradictory. This would lead to a breakdown in coherent communication and logical consistency, as what is logically sound in one culture would be considered flawed in another. The universality and consistency of logical laws across cultures suggest that they are not mere human conventions but are grounded in something more fundamental and universal, transcending cultural or societal norms.


Published by Apologetics Central

At Apologetics Central, we are committed to providing biblically grounded, Reformed presuppositional apologetics resources to equip believers in defending the Christian faith. As a ministry, we strive to uphold the truth of God's word and present it winsomely to a world in need of the gospel.

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