How do I answer a hardened atheist?

I have a friend who has admitted to me that he is, and has been an atheist for some time, though he grew up Episcopalian. I posed to him the issues of a “first cause” and the need of an “inteligent designer”, using in part some materials that I purchased from Catholic Answers. I also mentioned Jesus, His miracles and the resurrection. He gave me a detailed, heart-felt response, some points of which I would like to share here.

Point 1: Just because science can’t explain something doesn’t mean that there has to be a higher power. A philospher has explained this as the “god of the gaps” argument.

Point 2: He stated that he feels that most people “feel that they need a god”. He quoted Voltaire who said, “If there were no god, it would be necessary to invent him.”

Point 3: Regarding Scripture, why is it more valid than the Koran, Buddhist texts and the like?

Point 4: Regarding miracles, he asked if the witnesses really saw what they thought that they saw. He said that any technology that is sufficiently advanced is indistinguishable from magic. Even if the witnesses did really see what happened, does that prove God’s existence? (I personally believe so having “Faith”, but have difficulty proving the point.)

His full response to me was a 6 page document, but I think that this summarizes his issues. Any suggestions on where to go from here?

Dear ma,

Point 1: Just because science can’t explain something doesn’t exclude a higher power either. Our God truly IS a God of human gaps. But there are no gaps for Him.

Point 2. Indeed, the fact that people feel a need for God is a powerful statement in favor of God’s existence. Human beings only have appetites for that which exists and can satisfy those appetites.

Point 3. Christian Scripture is more valuable than the writings of other religions because God is its Author. But one must have faith in order to appreciate this. For one who has no faith, they are all irrelevant.

Point 4. Granted, the people of biblical times would have thought that television is a miracle. But even today, for a man to bring a cadaver back to life by simply calling him forth, would at least give one pause. It would most likely cause one to consider a power that is more than human.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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