What Value Do Atheists Bring To The Debate?

Josh Sommer comments
| Faith

Sometimes we clam up into our own worldview. We begin to listen to only those whom we agree with. We fail to hear other perspectives. We fail to understand where others come from. I have taken to write this article because I think there are valuable lessons from the atheist which not only assist us educationally, but also enhance and strengthen our faith.

Now, I am not writing this as an appeal to evidence so that I can convince the atheist "into the Kingdom," so-to-speak. Rather, I am writing this to show Christians that atheists sometimes live like Christians (formally), and then also to show atheists that they need Jesus Christ in order to not only make sense of reality, but also to be reconciled to a holy and perfectly righteous God whom they inevitably prove, by virtue of their lives, exists.

1. God is sovereign over salvation

No matter the effort put forth in discussing faith with an atheist, no matter the evidence provided, they will staunchly adhere to their exclusion of God in their worldview. From the perspective of Scripture, and even from personal experience, I can testify to this very fact.

I once asked an atheist, “If Jesus descended from the sky and landed in front of you to proclaim, ‘I am the Lord!’ what would you do?” They exclaimed, “Well, it would probably just be an alien playing tricks on us!”

No matter the exertion we offer in presenting the Good News to an atheist, they will only bow the knee to Christ when God Himself drastically changes their heart (Rom 3:10, 11; Eph 1:4, 11; 2:1).

2. Sin exists in this world

I have heard many atheists deny sin. However, in the same breath they affirm “bad things” or even immoral actions. They believe that people can be ethically and morally wrong or perverse. The question then becomes, from whose perspective are these things objectively immorally wrong? If we say, “from man’s” then there is no reason, from the atheist’s perspective, that I can’t coin these wrong “things,” or actions, as “sin.”

However, from God’s perspective, that which is contrary to Him is labeled sin by Him. But, if sin is only to be seen from our perspective, then we really just need to make up our own ten commandments (according to the atheistic worldview, these can be whatever we want them to be). Therefore, these wrong “things,” to the atheist, are just that which is contrary to each person, relatively speaking. Thus, the atheist cannot say sin does not exist (or exist) according to their own worldview.

This confusion, in and of itself, is a result of sin and therefore a proof for sin. Atheists point out the moral atrocities which they believe should be pointed out, but they reject that which is uncomfortable for them to accept in their own sin. Usually, an atheist would actually agree with the majority of the second table of the Christian Ten Commandments found in the Old Testament of Scripture (Ex 20). However, they have no reason, within their worldview, to think that these laws are objectively right, or true.

The atheist demonstrates the existence of sin in this world by virtue of their rejection of God, and thievery of that which belongs to Him i.e. morals, logic, etc.

3. Absolute truth is absolute

Atheists are the Kierkegaardian champions of their day. Søren would be proud because, according to many atheists, subjectivity is truth. In other words, what is true for me is true for me, and what is true for you is true for you! But, this doesn’t make any sense.

If we are to take the proposition “subjectivity is truth” we automatically make an absolute, universal truth claim. Therefore, if we affirm that, we, at the same time, refute ourselves because in saying truth is relative, we state an absolute truth claim which is not subject to relativity, but is true universally.

In this way, no matter how the atheist tries to wriggle out of it, they are standing proof of absolute truth. In other words, in stating what they believe, they affirm that which is contrary to their belief.

4. There is a “good” and there is an “evil”

We have all heard that there is good and evil in the world, but some atheists have decided to question this dualistic standard. Some, when pressed, would even admit genocide is a good thing since it regulates the population of the earth, and preserves the lives of those who will live in the future (someone actually told me this once). This, of course, is a huge myth, and completely deranged (another proof of sin).

However, the existence of good/bad, or good/evil, is made apparent in their very willingness to engage in discussion for the sake of their “cause.” In choosing to engage a religious person to present and support their brand of atheism, they assume a good and a bad, or a right and a wrong. They assume that the world ought to be one way over against another way. This is ethical in nature and therefore a reduction, of their worldview, to absurdity.

In this massive inconsistency of theirs, we can see that the atheist is again proof for that which they seek to disprove. An absolute standard of ought and ought not.

5. Purpose is apparent even when denied

In my conversations with atheists, I have heard that purpose is an illusion of the human mind. I have heard that purpose doesn’t exist at all, objectively. From other atheists, I have heard that purpose does exist, and that that purpose is the betterment of humanity (or something along those lines).

It doesn’t take a rocket scientist to realize that both parties, even the party that denies common purpose, has a common purpose! Their common purpose is to do what they want to do. That is their purpose, and it is universal to those who are dead in sin. To be sure, this is a common purpose which is a product of ethical rebellion against God. In other words, they do what they want (sin included) as a result of suppressing the truth about God and His standard of righteousness, in their sin.

God promises this outcome in Romans 1 and therefore, the atheist is doing a great job, thus far, of affirming the truth of Scripture in virtue of their inconsistencies.

6. Love is real

The atheist community here in San Diego is a pretty tight knit group. They express much love to one another, and some of them even express love for their community. In this they again take part in a creaturely property—love (created by God), yet deny the Creator of love who is Love in Himself.

All people then objectively love; that is, love is a universal property or reality of the world in which we live. In this way, the atheist continues to be proof for that which they want to destroy, God. Without God, there would be no love. Without God, there would be no standard of love, or definition for the term. There would be no logical expression of love, or intimacy.

All of these things depend upon God to be real. Thus the atheist testifies to the reality of love in their explicit engagement therein.

7. Christ is the only way to be reconciled with God

Many atheists with whom I have discussions are completely fine with talk about Buddha, Hindu gods, Greek mythology, and so on. However, when the name Jesus Christ is mentioned, an attitude of repulsiveness seeps into the air. This is a testimony of the truth of Scripture. “Jesus answered… If the world hates you, know that it has hated me before it hated you (John 15:18).”

It seems then, that Jesus’ exclusivity is repulsive, in our day, just as Christ promised it would be. The atheist then is inadvertently confirming the words of Jesus Christ merely by abhorring discussion about Him.

I plead with the atheist then, no matter where you go, you are staring God in the face. There is no way to get away from the truth about God which you know, but suppress in unrighteousness. I plead with you to bow to your Lord, recognizing Christ as the only Savior, the only Way of salvation!

It seems the atheist has much to teach people, especially the Christian. What they teach, in principle, is that God is sovereign; sin is real and practically exemplified, not only in ourselves, but also in atheists who sometimes deny sin; absolute truth truly is absolute, there is no escape from this; good and evil exist; common purpose is exemplified in all people, even the atheist, but it needs to be corrected by God Himself; love is very, very real; and finally, Jesus Christ is the only way to be reconciled to God.


Josh Sommer

Josh Sommer is the co-founder and editor of the Reformed Collective. He is currently pursuing his B.A. in Biblical Studies and M. Div. simultaneously, and while doing that he'd like to bring you some input on current events, from a solid Reformed perspective.

My Website: http://www.reformedcollective.com