Why go to Church if God isn’t real?

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The fool says in his heart, “There is no God.”  (Psalm 14:1)

This is the objection of the person convinced by the world that there is no God. Most often, the individual has not seen the evidence, nor has this decision been made as a purely intellectual one. Typically, a person denies God because they don’t want the consequences of belief in God, namely, ethical behavior. They want to do whatever they want without a God looking over their shoulder. Arguing the existence of God will not change his position. They will continue to cite “evidence” of “Scientists” and say that anything religious is just begging to be believed.

Always begin your responses with Prayer, so that God will help you with the words. Remember that an atheist is one who has been personally hurt by the Church or by the choices they believe God has made against them (i.e., He didn’t cure my saintly mother from cancer). So you must deal gently, not with an argument for the head, but listening for the pain in their heart. Atheism is rarely purely intellectual, nor can it be son soley with logic.

You might ask the person if they know absolutely that there is no God. Ecclesiastes 3:11 says that God has set eternity in the hearts of men. Every man knows there is someone beyond his understanding. God put it there. The typical “atheist” is actually a hurt agnostic. He will admit that he doesn’t know “absolutely” that there is no God. He will cite evidence from evolution, or say that evil exists in the world, or something equally dismissive. (These arguments he has developed as walls for his conscience to reassure himself that it’s ok to be an atheist because God can be reasonably doubted.)

If he uses the argument of evil, remember that we would not know what evil is without knowing what is good. The fact that good exists, and that a standard of good and evil exists, points to greater moral sense among all cultures, and introduces what C. S. Lewis calls the Moral Argument for God’s existence. God put this morality into all people, because He is the Moral Lawgiver. (Romans 2:14)

Repeat back to him his own statement positively, “so you think there might be a God? And if there is a God, how would you know it?” He would probably ask for some miracle or evidence of supernatural things. Then you can talk about God’s word – the Bible as a written revelation of God to Man or God’s Son – the personal revelation of God to Man, or just about the miracle of the resurrection, attested to by many ancient witnesses. What you’ve done is cause doubt in his own presumptions, perhaps enough doubt for him to peek over the wall of his arguments and see God for who He is. This may require repeated discussion, and certainly love and patience, but you will have an opening into this man’s life for future conversation and conversion. You may offer to pray with him before you are done talking to him.

P.S. Since this post has generated a bit of attention via comments, I am going to add an additional free resource (well, I got it free anyway) that I have that I want to pass on. This is a PDF of a brochure that addresses many of the common rebuttals listed both above and in comments.

JesusCritic

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Published by

merittmusings

I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

12 thoughts on “Why go to Church if God isn’t real?”

  1. Let’s clear up some common misconceptions….

    “Typically, a person denies God because they don’t want the consequences of belief in God, namely, ethical behavior. They want to do whatever they want without a God looking over their shoulder. Arguing the existence of God will not change his position. They will continue to cite “evidence” of “Scientists” and say that anything religious is just begging to be believed.”

    It’s kind of ironic that your statement above is repeated often, nearly word for word. I’ve never heard an atheist state they deny a god because they don’t want the consequence of ethical behavior… or that they want to do without a god looking over their shoulder.

    As for me, I grew up believing in “God”, went to religious instructions, attended religious instructions and really enjoyed my extended family from the church I attended. Despite that, I never felt that this god-concept added up. In effect, I took the god claim and I rejected it.

    Basically, Atheism is just a rejection of a God claim. Someone makes a claim about “God”, the person listens to the claim, determines if it is a credible claim, perhaps takes time to investigate the claim but ultimately.. rejects it.

    Just because one is Atheist, does not necessarily mean they appeal to science (Evolution, Big Bang..etc). Nor is “The typical atheist” – “a hurt agnostic”. Nor are atheists looking to be less ethical. There are very ethical atheists as there are un-ethical theists.

    Atheists (as Theists) come in all shapes and sizes when it comes to their specific worldview. I for one have had many theists tell me they have evidence and proof of a god. I have given them the opportunity to present the evidence to me but the only thing they could ever offer was their beliefs or claims. Sure, there are some who offer Cosmological – logical arguments but they fail under scrutiny.

    I’m sure there are those who left the church or gave up on God based on a life situation. I for one would not take kindly, if I lost a parent, spouse, child or friend, and someone used that circumstance to target me with their religious beliefs. If you are concerned for them, be their friend. Let them know you will be there for them. Ask them what they want… don’t force what YOU want on them.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. If I may tag along…
        I never ‘chose to give up on faith’; it’s not a choice. I can’t believe any part of the story, it’s too unbelievable. The contents of the bible are just too whimsical, absurd and far removed from anything we encounter in the real world. Add on top of that are the contradictions in the various books and writings by people who support it.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. With your permission, are you saying that you don’t attend church because you can’t agree with the book that they themselves can’t agree how to read? I can accept that. The Bible gives me trouble as well. When you read the Bible, what gives you the most trouble?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Sure, but first I want to reiterate a point. When I was young, I mostly enjoyed church, I enjoyed being part of a community. It was a central part of my life for a long time…even after I started to question things. My siblings were in the Folk Group and it was great sitting in the balcony while everyone took out their instruments (and singing voices). It made things fun. I was an Altar boy at one point!

        But from my earliest memories, I always felt that this god thing was, for lack of a better word, Wishful thinking. Everyone wanted to believe in something bigger than them, they wanted to believe in a concept but I’m just the type of person who wants to remain well grounded.

        (If you have young children reading this, have them look away now! lol )

        As a child, you have a belief in anything your parents tell you. There is a tooth fairy, Santa Claus and an Easter Bunny. Around Christmas, we had a manger with Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, Shepherds, Wise Men, Kings..etc… It is all wishful thinking. I know this is probably a bad analogy but a certain point, the individual needs to evaluate what has been taught to them. We have a God, his son (who is God in the flesh) a holy spirit and angels. We hear mystical stories about their lives and there is no way to really evaluate them. These stories come from 2000+ years in the past and we’ve never had anything similarly mystical happen since that time.

        Despite my thought at a tender young age, I just thought that was life. This is what you should believe because other people who do not believe the same way were somehow lesser people. Even the bible paint people of different beliefs in a bad light. I never found a reason to feel any less of a person because of their background or religious beliefs. But still, I towed the line of being a good Christian, I really didn’t know anything else.

        As we get older, we learn the ways of the world. We learn that other people have doubts just the same as us… It’s perfectly normal to doubt or just downright disbelieve. We find out that these people are not evil but just normal every day people. We learn the terminology, perhaps band together because we want to be around people who are like minded.

        I got off on a little tangent but basically, having read the bible, there was much doubt in my mind that some of the mysticism just didn’t add up. Parts of the OT seemed more historical rather than prophecy. Ezekiel actually lived during the time which he was “prophesying” about. And had knowledge that Nebuchadnezzar was not rewarded with the plunder of Tyre. I don’t want to list everything that led me to where I am today, I could probably write a book on that. I studied world religions and the history surrounding religion. Civilization started out with various god concepts and slowly but surely, they all started getting wrapped up into one monolithic god concept. I suspect if there is a god, that the bible is not the word of that god rather a concept of god in man’s image.

        Like

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