I’m sure that both Christians and Atheists will agree that when the conversation about God and religion comes up it’s difficult for the 2 groups to agree at all. Both Christians and Atheists do not see God from the same lens and therefore this causes ferocious debate and arguments.
As a Christian who has had several strong debates with Atheists about God, I thought it might be a good idea to write about the various misconceptions I’ve discovered that Atheists have about God and Christianity and what Atheists need to know about God and Christianity in general.
8 THINGS ATHEISTS NEED TO UNDERSTAND ABOUT GOD
1. God Does Not Delight In The Suffering of His Creation
Why do you believe in a God who allows suffering? If your God is so loving, why did He allow those innocent people to get killed? I’m sure at some point in our lives we’ve all asked ourselves these type of questions. Even atheists continue to ask these kind of questions – and there is nothing wrong with such questions. In fact whether Atheist or Christians, they are very normal and valid questions to ask especially in the face of tragedy and pain.
However the answers to such questions are not found by blaming the nature of God but rather by observing the flawed nature of man and how we treat one another as people.
Romans 3:10 – As it is written: “There is none righteous, no, not one;”
Romans 3:23 – For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God
Jeremiah 17:9 – The heart is deceitful above all things, And desperately wicked; Who can know it?
If you are an Atheist or a Christian or a person of a different belief system and you are reading this article, I’m sure you will agree with Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23 and Jeremiah 17:9 which is basically saying that man at the core of his being is the following:
a) Man is not perfect in nature and character; he/she has flaws
b) Man has sinned or done something wrong at some point in his/her life
c) Man struggles with various vices, bad habits and weaknesses
d) Man is capable of the most wicked and heinous acts and crimes
e) Man is capable of thinking impure thoughts even without necessarily acting these thoughts out
You don’t need to be a Bible believer or a believer in God to know that the nature of all people is as the 5 areas mentioned above and as the Bible itself describes. If you have never done so – by conducting an objective and honest observation of your own personal character and nature, you will discover that you as an individual are not perfect and you are capable of wrong-doing no matter how small or how big.
It is with this understanding that we must know where suffering comes from.
Suffering comes about because of the flawed, wicked, wrong-doing sinful nature of man.
Therefore suffering exists not because of what God has done – but because of what man has done. What has man done? Man steals from his neighbour; Man tells lies; Man cheats on his wife; Man is jealous of others; Man murders his neighbor; Man kills an unborn child whilst it is in the womb of a mother ; Man emotionally and physically harms his neighbor; Man would rather see his fellow neighbours starve instead of sharing what he abundantly has; Man is selfish and greedy, etc.
Basically the majority of the suffering in the world exists because what we as people do towards each other and not necessarily because of the incorrect Atheistic belief that God is a sadist who delights in the suffering of others.
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
God wants EVERYBODY to repent and follow Him – including the Atheist. However it is NOT God who fights for the right to kill or abort an unborn child; It is NOT God who causes a man to commit adultery and thereby destroy a family in the process; It is NOT God who causes a person to steal from another; It is NOT God who causes innocent people to be killed by a deranged and disturbed individual. However it is the sinful and fallen nature of man that has caused a lot of the suffering and pain that we see in the world. Therefore man is the architect of pain and suffering – not God.
2. God Has Given EVERYBODY Freewill
You are not a robot; you are not a machine that has to be programed to perform specific tasks. You are not designed that way. You have FREEWILL because God designed you that way.
However there is no action that is without consequence. There is always cause and effect to anything we do in life. Whether you are an Atheist or a Christian, God has given us all freewill but the choices we make in life have good and at times bad consequences.
Therefore if you are an Atheist, God does not and He will not force you to believe that He exists – Why? – because He has given you freewill. However, this freewill is not without consequence.
To understand that God gives us freewill and does not always interfere especially when we are determined to do the wrong thing, read the Bible passage below to understand how God does not interfere but will one day hold them accountable for their actions.
Romans 1:21-32 ESV
21 For although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him, but they became futile in their thinking, and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Claiming to be wise, they became fools, 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images resembling mortal man and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them up in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, 25 because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen.
26 For this reason God gave them up to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; 27 and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God gave them up to a debased mind to do what ought not to be done. 29 They were filled with all manner of unrighteousness, evil, covetousness, malice. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit, maliciousness. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, haters of God, insolent, haughty, boastful, inventors of evil, disobedient to parents, 31 foolish, faithless, heartless, ruthless.
32 Though they know God’s decree that those who practice such things deserve to die, they not only do them but give approval to those who practice them.
If people or a society or a nation are DETERMINED to disobey God or if they are determined to satisfy their sinful lusts with a total disregard for God, you will discover that God does not interfere at times. From Romans 1:21-32 we learn that God gives freewill for people to do as they please even if people desire to do the wrong thing. Therefore because God DOES NOT force man to obey His principles and His word due to man’s FREEWILL some of the following scenarios as seen in Romans 1:21-32 will occur:
a) God gives them up in the lusts of their hearts to various impurities which these people are determined to act out (vs 24)
b) God gives them up to dishonorable passions (vs 26)
c) God gives them up to a debased mind to do what ought NOT to be done because they did not see it fit to acknowledge God (vs 28)
The CONSEQUENCES of bad freewill decisions are still found in Romans 1:21-32 – and these consequences of bad freewill decisions are that all kinds of evil will reign in the form of envy, murder, strife etc (Romans 1:28-31).
3. God Does Not Condone Hatred of People
Atheists have the misconception that Christians hate people who have a different ideology and belief than them. The truth is a REAL Christian should not hate or dislike any human being. God teaches Christians to hate SIN or to hate WRONG-DOING but God DOES NOT teach the Christian to hate other PEOPLE even if those people are Atheists or have different beliefs.
In fact, God tells Christians to PRAY for those who hate them or persecute them.
“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 And if you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 You therefore must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.
However please understand – LOVING someone DOES NOT MEAN tolerating their wrong actions; For example, just because a Christian disagrees with a person’s homosexual lifestyle it does not necessarily mean that the Christian hates gay people. A Christian can dislike the lifestyle without hating the person who has chosen the lifestyle because God teaches that homosexuality is a sin and ultimately God teaches us to hate the sin but love the sinner. Christians are required to correct the people they love; to advise the people they love; to help the people they love; to preach to the people they love. And to God and the Christian, love must be extended to EVERYBODY whether that person is Atheist or not.
Proverbs 27:5 – Better is open rebuke than hidden love.
4. God Is A Loving & Caring God
Atheists need to know that God loves ALL of His creation. The Atheist might resist God and argue profusely against His existence; however God does not hate atheists – he loves them.
1 John 4:9-12 ESV
In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and His love is perfected in us.
5. Jesus Died For The Atheist
Every person at some point in life must make a PERSONAL decision to choose whether they will follow God or not. When Jesus came into the world, He did not come for those who professed to be holy or sinless. Jesus in fact, came to save the wicked, the doubters, the haters, wrong-doers; of which every person who is born into the world is a sinner.
John 3:16-21 – “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God. 19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their deeds were evil. 20 For everyone who does wicked things hates the light and does not come to the light, lest his deeds should be exposed. 21 But whoever does what is true comes to the light, so that it may be clearly seen that his deeds have been carried out in God.”
Mark 2:15-17 – And as he reclined at table in his house, many tax collectors and sinners were reclining with Jesus and his disciples, for there were many who followed him. 16 And the scribes of the Pharisees, when they saw that he was eating with sinners and tax collectors, said to his disciples, “Why does he eat with tax collectors and sinners?” 17 And when Jesus heard it, he said to them, “Those who are well have no need of a physician, but those who are sick. I came not to call the righteous, but sinners.”
6. God is Greater than Science
1 Corinthians 2:14-15 NKJV
But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned.
Science is defined as “the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment”.
To the atheist one can put forward the following challenge: Show me a scientist who knows EVERYTHING there is to know about science or who has ALL the scientific answers and I will show you an OMNISCIENT man.
The truth is there is no human being who knows EVERYTHING or who has ALL the answers to science or to life. The least that any scientist can do is to have theories, assumptions or to conduct experiments in order to make new discoveries. The truth is – a man who knows EVERYTHING does not need to EXPERIMENT. The truth is – a man who knows EVERYTHING does not need to make scientific OBSERVATIONS. The truth is – a man who knows EVERYTHING does not need to do ANY systematic STUDIES. Why??? Because such a man ALREADY knows EVERYTHING.
The problem with atheism and atheists is that it attempts to presume to have the answers for everything – including the spiritual or supernatural realm.
Atheists basically believe that if science / scientists cannot explain the spiritual realm, then such a realm cannot possibly exist. Atheists believe that if science / scientists cannot explain God, then God does not exist.
Romans 1:19-20 – For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.
God is supernatural; God is spiritual; God is greater than science. Science alone cannot explain Him and the purpose of science is not to discard God as being non-existent but to enhance the reality of His existence through the natural and visible things that He has created.
7. God Wants Christians To Preach About Him
Atheists are offended by Christians and by Christianity. The misconception is that Christians are trying to drag “religion” down people’s throats.
The truth is, the Gospel is a message of LOVE; the Gospel is a message of God’s love for man and His offer for salvation to ANYONE who will receive Jesus Christ as his/her Lord and Saviour.
Therefore atheists need to know that God has tasked Christians with spreading the gospel of Jesus Christ to all men regardless of their background, beliefs or preferences. Because every man has freewill, Christians cannot force anybody to worship God, but it does not mean that they should not be allowed to present the gospel.
Mark 16:15-16 – And He (Jesus) said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. 16 Whoever believes and is baptized will be saved, but whoever does not believe will be condemned.”
2 Timothy 4:2-3 – Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
2 Timothy 3:16-17 – All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, 17 that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.
Matthew 28:18-20 – And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”
8. God’s Day of Judgment is Coming
To the Atheist I ask this sobering question. What if after all the sarcasm about God; and all the mocking; and all the God hating is over and then you die and find out that there is a God after all – and you stand before the very God whom you hated and did not believe in – what will you do? What will you say to Him?
Hebrews 9:27 – And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment
To the atheist I ask this sobering question. Are you REALLY sure that God does not exist? Because to refuse the existence of a Maker would be to assume that life is basically an accident and that your life has no meaning at all. Or if you don’t believe that life is an accident then does it not mean that there is a God who created you and has brought you into existence for a reason.
The sobering truth is that Heaven awaits those people who believe and receive Jesus Christ as their Lord and Saviour whilst a terrible place called hell awaits those who refuse to believe in God nor follow Him.
John 1:12-13 – But to all who did receive him, who believed in his name, he gave the right to become children of God, 13 who were born, not of blood nor of the will of the flesh nor of the will of man, but of God.
John 3:3-8 – Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother’s womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
Matthew 10:28 – And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.
Matthew 25:41 – “Then he will say to those on his left, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels.”