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TALKING TO A “LAWFUL” ATHEIST
I wanted to send out a quick email during our Mission Trip to Alaska. The other day I was open-air preaching in the Town Square Park of Anchorage Alaska and afterwards had a good one-on-one witnessing encounter with an atheist.
This atheist was in his early twenties and remembered me from last year when I preached on the University of Alaska. He told me that he was actually raised in a Christian home but the public school is what corrupted him back in Middle School.
He talked about some of his bad habits like smoking and drinking but then said that while he doesn’t believe in God he does believe in “the rule of law” and a “lawful society.”
This was the perfect entry point for apologetics and an internal critique of the atheist worldview. I argued, “But there would be no basis for absolute moral laws apart from an infinite mind. Law at its essence is an idea of the mind. If moral law does not come from the infinite mind of God then it comes from the finite minds of men.” To this he agreed.
I went on, “And if it comes from the finite mind of man, this is no basis for a moral law that is universally obligatory. It would just be my finite mind against your finite mind.” Again he agreed and did not argue.
“So then, you could not say that any society has ever been morally wrong. You could not condemn the Nazis or Cannibals or the Witch Hunts or the Crusades. In the finite minds of the Nazis, they had decided that killing the Jews was the best thing they could do for their society. They blamed the Jews for their economic depression. They viewed the Jews as immigrant invaders who were stealing their economy. Plus they were evolutionarily inferior and you know how survival of the finest works, so the Germans decided it was best for them to kill the Jews.” Surprisingly he did not argue.
“If morality is simply the product of the collective society, then no society could ever be morally wrong. But we all know inherently that societies have been morally wrong. And that means that morality transcends society and is not the product of society. Morality comes from the infinite mind of God. That is the only adequate basis for absolute morality that is universally obligatory upon every society.”
Usually I have atheists try to put up some kind of intellectual fight and jump through all sorts of mental hoops and gymnastics at this point but he did not.
I could have also gone into the issue of inalienable rights vs civil rights and how we can only have an “inalienable right to life and liberty” is there is a transcendent God who gave us such a right. If there is no God than all we have are civil rights which, by definition, can be granted or taken away by the civil government without any inalienable rights being violated. So if a government decided to enslave a population or to commit mass murder, no inalienable right to life from God would be violated, if there was no God. If life and liberty are civil rights, the government can take them away without violating any rights.
Then he said, “But there are just so many religions in the world which all have so many followers and believers. My question is, ‘How can so many people be wrong?”
I followed up and said, “I think you are asking the wrong question. The real question is not, “How can so many people be wrong” but “How can so many people be right?” All the world religions make claims that contradict other religions, so they cannot all be right. According to the laws of logic, truth cannot contradict truth. So somebody has to be right and somebody has to be wrong. That is just the way it is.”
Again, he seemed to agree and did not argue. Of course the issue with an atheist is not intellectual but moral. The purpose of apologetics is not to intellectual convince him because God has already done that through creation. The purpose is to show his contradictions and inconsistencies and the baselessness of his position, to expose him as a criminal who knows about God but chooses to rebel against Him. And that is what I alleged to him, “You already know that there is a God but you just don’t want Him to rule your life. You want to rule your own life. But if God is not ruling your life then you are ruining your own.”
By all appearances it seemed like good seeds were being planted into his heart and mind. Pray for this man and please pray for us as we continue to minister here in Alaska for another week.
To encourage and equip believers in the work of apologetics I just started a Facebook group called “Street Apologetics: Presuppositional & Evidential Apologetics Discussion.” It already has 154 members. Check it out here: STREET APOLOGETICS FACEBOOK GROUP
It is similar to another group you might be interested in joining. My other group is called, “The Street Preacher Movement” and now has 4,345 members with street preachers from all over the world. It is a great evangelism network! Check it out here: JOIN THE MOVEMENT!
~ Jesse Morrell
PS: Here is a quick and short video I made on “How to Do Presuppositional Apologetics | Refuting Atheists & Proving God“
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