The Least Intimidating Battle of All Time

Countless words have been written promoting or provoking atheism, most of them thoughtless. While many would declare it the “new religion” or a “final nail in the coffin,” it’s really just a washed up celebrity with a facelift. Followers of Christ have more or less responded in wild throes. Some are running scared from the whole thing, like it will eat up their children and gobble up their churches. Others ignore it like you would a bear outside a tent, holding a shaking flashlight and hoping it’ll go away. Worse still are the straight sloppy attacks that are only panicked gunshots in the dark.

Before atheism was cool and long before everyone started brandishing it like the new hot pants, I was a faithful card-carrying member. I used to idolize them: Richard Dawkins, Sam Harris, Bertrand Russell, Christopher Hitchens, before they all became megastars. I thought I was in the “know,” superior over “them,” a thoughtful, well-reasoned, open-minded champion of a new era. I had my preprogrammed defenses, my impenetrable arguments, my fortress of opinions. No Christian could possibly stand against cold, hard, unchanging logic. It was simple: Jesus probably never existed, and if he did he had a twin, and religion was the answer to a weak-willed people afraid of their own mortality. Faith was poison, I thought, and death was final.

Salvation was not an overnight revelation. It wasn’t apologetics or philosophy or debating skills that won me. No tragedies brought me to church; there was no quarter-life crisis. Really it was seeing the sincere efforts of faithful Christians living out the truth, not perfectly but passionately, and I knew it couldn’t be any human effort. No natural person could have this sort of joy, compassion, and peace in the face of trials and trouble. I almost came to the truth in reverse: seeing the life of Christ worked through these men and women pointed me back to two millennia ago where it all began. I was horrified this could all be real. Slowly but certainly I found that it was. From atheism I hopped to agnosticism, to deism, to theism, and finally to Jesus Christ. I realized I had shut off entire areas of my brain while I was an atheist, and to this day it remains dizzying to have them opened wide.

Unfortunately the battlefront between the New-Old Atheism and Mainstream Evangelicals has been a stalemate of trench warfare. Both sides have built ivory towers beyond the grasp of any sensible communication. The least thoughtful of both sides have taken the platform. Here are some common arguments from evangelicals to atheists that only promote the standstill and should be taken out of the arena.

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