September 21, 2017

3 Steps for Converting Atheists to Christianity

Christianity
What I am about to write is going to be a review for most atheists. At least, nearly every atheist I have encountered over the years seems to be at least moderately familiar with what I am about to outline. I am writing it because I still come across a surprising number of Christians for whom it seems completely novel. For that reason, I think I'll write this post as if the reader was a Christian.

Christians, I see quite a few of you using very old and thoroughly discredited arguments (i.e., apologetics) in an effort to convince atheists that some sort of god is necessary to explain creation, morality, or something else for which no supernatural beings are necessary. I understand why you might do this. The arguments have already been developed by Christian apologists, so all you need to do is learn them and hope to find an atheist who is unfamiliar with their rebuttals. Relatively little thought is required for this sort of thing. Unfortunately, it is unlikely to change many minds despite what your pastor may tell you. Christian apologetics are not nearly as persuasive as evidence would be. And so, if you really want to put an end to atheism once and for all, providing atheists with evidence sufficient to demonstrate the existence of some sort of god is going to be your best bet.

Here's the thing you need to realize though...providing atheists with sufficient evidence to support the existence of some sort of god would only be a partial victory. This sort of evidence would indeed lead rational atheists to abandon atheism, but it would not necessarily lead them to believe in your preferred god. There are so many possible gods in which one could believe that there is no guarantee that any former atheist would select yours. You would need to follow up the evidence you had provided of some sort of god(s) with evidence that your preferred god was the only possibility. It would not be until you had accomplished this that you'd have any reason to think that atheists would believe in your preferred god over one or more of the many alternatives.

Let me give you another way to think about it. The first step in the process of converting an atheist to Christianity is to persuade the atheist that some sort of god or gods exist. We aren't talking about your particular god yet; we are focusing on the idea that a god (or gods) of some sort is necessary. If you provide sufficient evidence on this point, there are no more rational atheists. Those who are rational abandon atheism and are now theists; those who do not do so are clearly irrational. The second step involves moving these new theists from accepting the vague notion that some sort of god (or gods) exists to the conviction that only your preferred god exists. And as you might expect, additional evidence is going to be needed to accomplish this.

If we suppose that you managed to do this, you would now have a bunch of former atheists who are now not only theists but theists who believe in your preferred god. Wonderful, right? Yes, but there is still one little problem. These former atheists still aren't Christians. Jews are theists who believe in the same god in which you believe, but they aren't Christians. The same is true for the former atheists to whom you have provided evidence supporting your god.

This brings us to the third and final step in the process. You have led these atheists from atheism to theism and from general theism to the belief in your preferred god. Now you must lead them the rest of the way to Christianity. I'll leave it to you to figure out what that entails, but I'd guess that being a Christian probably requires things like believing that there was a historical Jesus, that he was no ordinary human being, that he died and was brought back to life, that he remains involved in human affairs, and so on. Just like steps 1 and 2, you'll need to provide the former atheists with sufficient evidence to support all of this.