Friendly Discussion with a Former Atheist

Me: So…wait, are you just examining Christianity?

Former Atheist: Yes, very much so.

Me: Ah.

Former Atheist: I’m examining a lot of stuff actually.

Me: So, not a Christian?

Former Atheist: I have departed from atheism and am finding my way.

Me: Now that is interesting. What did you find lacking in atheism?

Former Atheist: Abstraction. Science can only offer what can be observed. Yet, it cannot provide any reason to believe something unobservable doesn’t exist. But philosophy and theology engage in the realm of abstraction. And I find much of it just as convincing as I do using a telescope to see the stars.

Me: Yeah the verificationist principle itself can’t be empirically verified. Not to mention the self-referential difficulty of that statement itself relies on abstraction. My problem with positing a two-worlds doctrine from there is that it’s still very irrational. Which is to say, there’s nothing to bring the two-worlds – abstraction and empirical – together. Nothing to impose the abstract upon the empirical in any normative fashion.

Former Atheist: You’re going to have to help me out with the Plato reference lol, I am still on a fairly superficial level in philosophy……my departure from atheism is not all that distant in the past.

Me: Well I already see you’re Googling. Which is a good sign. lol If we pack abstraction into that “other” world… Then what does abstraction have to do with the physical realm we find ourselves in?

Former Atheist: Ahhh… Good question….I have no answer.

Me: Me either. Or Plato or Aristotle for that matter.

Former Atheist: Only that it’s not verifiable.

Me: No I think you’re right to think there are abstract objects. And that empirical science cannot account for them. That’s no shot at science, of course. You don’t wear shoes as gloves.

Former Atheist: So our intellect can be used to verify?

Me: Abstract objects are assumed in our intellectual activities (even those pertaining to verification in science). But we need a worldview that accommodates those assumptions.

Former Atheist: Would you consider an abstract concept “evidence” for a deity?

Me: Sort of, and sort of not. lol I go a little deeper than that to say that abstract concepts presuppose the existence of God, yes.

Former Atheist: I see. So something like a “first cause” arguement?

Me: Not…really. Unless you’re thinking of infinite regresses and what not. At which point there may be some similarities.

Former Atheist: No real “evidence” in the traditional sense, but the abstraction of God can be inferred from the science?

Me: Well let’s take the inductive principle of science as an example. The inductive principle appears to operate with respect to laws of nature. Those laws, I would argue, work with respect to a worldview with a deity that sets them down. And not so much in other worldviews.

Former Atheist: So are you a Christian?

Me: I am. Which I take to mean something like this (at minimum):

  1. I believe God exists eternally as three persons, Father Son and Holy Spirit, that these three are each fully God, and yet there is one God.
  2. I believe the one person of Jesus Christ is fully God and fully human.
  3. I believe in salvation from our sins by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone.

Former Atheist: With how you described it, why not deism? What takes you to the step to believing in a personal God?

Me: Deism doesn’t impose abstractions on the contingent realm. It’s just Plato’s two-worlds doctrine with a mind but nothing to really bring the two worlds together. Plus my epistemological starting point is revelatory in nature, which is a whole other discussion.

Former Atheist: The principle of deism itself?

Me: Deism, if you mean a “watchmaker” type of god, that starts things off and has nothing to do with them afterward, doesn’t fix the ‘law’ problem.

Former Atheist: OOOOHHHH. Gotcha.

Me: The abstractions “sit” out there, and not on us, as it were.

Former Atheist: Laws in the universe imply some interest from the deity?

Me: You could say that. Or at least they need be imposed.

Former Atheist: I see. How do you make the step to a personal savior of mankind?

Me: I don’t make the step. There’s a presupposition of an entire worldview. Per revelation.

Former Atheist: Ahhh divine revelation.

Me: So in other words, I say we start with the authoritative revelation by faith, and this allows us to proceed with reason, as it were. And if we reject that revelation, well then, we end up in a bad way.

Former Atheist: What makes you believe the revelation in one religion superceeds the other?

Me: Supercedes meaning…that it’s revelation and not the others?

Former Atheist: Yes.

Me: I start with the claims each sacred writing makes of itself. You don’t get the same sort of claim to revelation in the Eastern religions. The exceptions are Judaism and Islam. And then of course there’s Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witness, those sort.

Former Atheist: Ok…Continue please.

Me: So when we look at Judaism, it seems insufficient to account for its own claims…it’s got an empty end, it leads right into the Christian view. Islam, on the other hand, provides another ‘revelation.’ That’s the Quran. As I’m sure you know. But Muslims claim former revelation as well, most notably here, the Bible, which many people don’t realize. But now we run into all sorts of difficulties, because the Bible and the Quran do not fit together. Muslims often attempt to account for this by saying that the authoritative revelation of Allah has been corrupted over time. But this undermines their faith in the Quran as well, for who is to say that the same corruption has not affected the Quran which earlier affected the Bible? That leads into some three different camps, epistemologically speaking, with Muslims.

Former Atheist: True. So do you believe in biblical inerrancy?

Me: I do. I don’t believe God can lie.

Former Atheist: How do you account for the differences in the gospels? Just curiousity I am not critisizing your belief.

Me: You can criticize my belief, I understand you’re not accepting of it, and are just looking things over. But I’m not sure what you’re referring to? Unless we’re just going to start into alleged contradictions. The fact that the four Gospels don’t “match” is usually explained by the fact that they were written by four different authors. Hence we’re not really looking for some absolute “harmony.” That’s not what they were given to us for.

Former Atheist: Ok, I get you. The overall message is still there even if the specifics differ? The message is inerrant?

Me: I believe the specifics are inerrant as well. That’s the defining feature of inerrancy, really. The moderates would take the view you mentioned.

Former Atheist: Interesting.

Me: It’s a big pill to swallow, I know. 🙂 Many of those presenting the Christian faith want to reduce the number of things they must “defend,” but this removes the richness of the worldview which is necessary to not only defend, but present the faith in an honest way. The authority of God is the “glue” which holds the particulars together.

Former Atheist: They don’t “match” though……..which gospel would be “correct” in the sense of historicity for lack of better words?

Me: Where do they not match historically speaking? (This question may take us into depth I’m not willing to type out tonight!)

Former Atheist: Hahaha. Probably. A quick summary. If one gospels says Jesus is killed before Passover and the other after….how can they both be correct? I have heard thought of a very intricate explanation, but it will sound like a star trek episode ha ha.

Me: They could both be correct if we understand how Passover was celebrated.

Former Atheist: Oh that’s right……I remember studying that a little. The discrepancy is not valid. It’s not a contradiction.

Me: But see, I want to say, how do we even account for contradictions in a non-Christian view of the world? So we can’t use contradictions as an argument against Christianity…if we need Christianity to account for such abstractions. But that does get into a lot more than I’m able to discuss.

Former Atheist: Very deep. I kind of get where you’re coming from. It’s as if people are trying to use Christianity to debunk Christianity.

Me: I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this.

Former Atheist: As have I my friend.

Me: I’m going to head out. Take care and hope you keep looking it all over.

Former Atheist: I will for certain. Thank you for the discussion.

Me: And of course I hope you ultimately find salvation in Christ Jesus crucified and raised for our forgiveness and righteousness. 🙂

Former Atheist: My thanks to you.

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