I need some help for a friend recently turned atheist?


#1

I have a dear friend who I fear has turned away from God and adopted “scientific atheism”?

Admittedely I am not familiar with this and also, unfortunately I am not as well spoken as my friend so I am seeking some help. If anyone could please help me answer or point me where I might find some answers to his inquiries I would appreciate it.

Specifically his main points and what I am looking for help answering are:

  1. Lack of historical records of Jesus beyond the bible.
  2. He questions the date of writing of the new testaments (linked to #1)
  3. Many of the biblical events defy scientific analysis
  4. He reasons that mythology is as old as man and hence Christianity is but the latest version of myths. He even cites commonalities between myths and Christianity arguing that they again are but the latest version of mythology.
  5. Being “religious” is somehow genetically linked? He argues that those that are religious are so only because of some genetic predisposition?

Can someone please help me answer some of these or at least point me where I can gain some information as to how to respond?


#2
  1. Lack of historical records of Jesus beyond the bible.

We have Josephus as a non Christian source. There are also the early church fathers that testify to the faith of the early church. For example, Diadach, Ignatius of Antioch, Clement of Rome. Whe know the dates when they lived, and we also have their letters. They were quoting parts of the new testament as early as 90 AD. They were not quoting any of the gnostic texts.

  1. He questions the date of writing of the new testaments (linked to #1)

The books of Acts provides an itinerary with dates and the names of local magistrates for Peter and Paul’s journeys. Based on these dates, we can pinpoint the earliest new testament writing as Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians. If Jesus died and rose again in 33 AD, and Paul converted shortly thereafter, lets say 34 AD, then based on the book of acts and internal evidence in the letter to the Thessalonians, Paul wrote this epistle around 15 years after the resurection. If you read the letter, you will see evidence of early statements that sound like a creed. These statements testify that the early church early on had a highly developed Christology. It wasn’t made up hundreds of years later.

  1. Many of the biblical events defy scientific analysis

Yes. They are called miracles. Does your friend reject the possibility of miracles out of hand? Ask him why.

  1. He reasons that mythology is as old as man and hence Christianity is but the latest version of myths. He even cites commonalities between myths and Christianity arguing that they again are but the latest version of mythology.

That there are similarities between myths and Christianity does not mean that Christianity was fabricated. Ask him what evidence he has for this?

  1. Being “religious” is somehow genetically linked? He argues that those that are religious are so only because of some genetic predisposition?

Ask him for evidence. He wont be able to because there is none.


#3
  1. Lack of historical records of Jesus beyond the bible.

Ask him to name any first century or earlier figure with a more timely record or more documentation.

  1. He questions the date of writing of the new testaments (linked to #1)

Simple research from someone looking for scientific support should conclude they are timely writtings.

  1. Many of the biblical events defy scientific analysis

Ask him to name them. I have found solid scientific proofs for how God could have used the natural world to explain how things happen. God created nature, so God can use the supernatural. A recent show explained Exodus by the Santorini volcano event. In what way does that refute God had a hand in it? God created Santorini as well as the grasshoppers, hail, fire…

  1. He reasons that mythology is as old as man and hence Christianity is but the latest version of myths. He even cites commonalities between myths and Christianity arguing that they again are but the latest version of mythology.

Semblence of truths in pagan holidays mean nothing. There are four seasons. Winter, Spring, Summer, and Fall are universal. Why should Christianity develop new seasons to identify their own symbolism to them just because they were used by others before? Gilgamesh recorded a flood before Moses wrote Genesis- so what? Gilgamesh’s story was told as a story unlike Genesis.

  1. Being “religious” is somehow genetically linked? He argues that those that are religious are so only because of some genetic predisposition?

I almost laughed at that. I attribute our natural disposition to some religiousocity as being created in the Image of our Creator.

I’d tell him it is fine to journey into the unknown, but advise him to leave some bread crumbs to find his way back.


#4

Yes I almost laugh too except that I cannot. He really is a good person who is lost. He had a big setback in his personal and business life and I believe he is angry and blaming God. He is extremely intelligent and articulate, hence my need for some help. Thank you. Will you please join me in saying a prayere for my friend?

Thanks again for the responses.


#5

k5thbeatle
He really is a good person who is lost. He had a big setback in his personal and business life and I believe he is angry and blaming God. He is extremely intelligent and articulate, hence my need for some help. Thank you. Will you please join me in saying a prayere for my friend?

Will do.:thumbsup:

If he is sincere, reading Job is worthwhile. If he is blaming god for the bad, ask if he ever thanked God for the good in his life. We all have setbacks. God Bless to both of you.


#6

Since science, by its own admission, has nothing to say regarding the existence or non-existence of God, “scientific atheism” sounds like an oxymoron.

Ask him for the scientific proof that God doesn’t exist. Ask him for the scientific explanation, excluding God, of course, for the origin of everything. He probably now holds the view “I have no idea, I just know it wasn’t God.” Not a very defensible position, really.


#7

So Jesus was a mushroom? These sorts of far out theories have exactly the intellectual credibility of creationism or Holocaust denial. They are useful as a litmus test to winnow out philosophically serious atheists from the rest. Once your friend can be brought to realise this fact, I suspect that the rest will be easy.

  1. He questions the date of writing of the new testaments (linked to #1)

There is a huge scholarly literature on this subject. Jesus Mythers tend to accept the last possible date of composition as the definite date. Don’t make the mistake of getting hung up on any particualar date unless you have a qualified opinion on the matter, but point out the elementary mistake that he is making, whulst rejectign ther views of these same scholars on the historicity of Jesus.

  1. Many of the biblical events defy scientific analysis

You’d have to be more specific about this. The Resurrection is unprecedented as an historical event.

  1. He reasons that mythology is as old as man and hence Christianity is but the latest version of myths. He even cites commonalities between myths and Christianity arguing that they again are but the latest version of mythology.

This one goes hand in hand with the Jesus was a mushroom type theory. Quite a lot of the similarities are manufactured. Any moon god or Sun god or harvest god is going to have somethign in common with the dying and rising Jesus. On the other hand where Jesus holds up bread and says “This is my body” it is, as CS Lewis said, almost as if He didn’t realise what He had just said. it is actually an interesting issue, but not one that can be approached through the distorting lens of Jesus Mythism.

  1. Being “religious” is somehow genetically linked? He argues that those that are religious are so only because of some genetic predisposition?

Actually a recent study found that most atheists have weak or absent fathers. It makes perfect sense, and tells us nothing about the actual truth of the situation. Every human trait is genetically linked in the sense that runner beans are not religious, or racist or intelligent. The meaningful question is whether the observed variation is genetic or not.

Can someone please help me answer some of these or at least point me where I can gain some information as to how to respond?

Try my book.


#8

if he has decided to base his beliefs entirely on science, advise him to make sure he does so only on the basis of good science. Advise him to make sure he studies only with bona fide scientists, not charlatans who currently use the popular media to propound their eccentric views and sell books. Make sure he understands what the scientific method is and how to apply its rigors to the theories of those who claim to be scientists.

Make sure he knows the difference between real science, which deals in measurable, quantifiable verifiable fact, and pseudo-science which relies on theories, models and conjecture. A perfect example is archeology and anthropology, where what is scientifically verifiable data accounts for about 10% of any one “expert’s” work the rest being a compound of guessing, and elaborate conjectures based on a network of guesses, which has currency only until the next expert comes up with a competing theory based on the same original data. Another example is sociology which gathers statistics, combines them randomly in ever-changing patterns, to make global predictions about human behavior in specific instances. That science is what has led to the absurd “abortion lowers the crime rate” theory.

All the examples you cite in OP are based on theories propounded in the popular media by people who use bits and pieces of things that look an awful lot like science in order to construct plots to sell books. If he is really serious about investigating not only the natural world, but metaphysics using the methods of science and reason, he will not disdain to be guided by the best intellects in history in so doing, among whom of course are Augustine, Aquinas, Albert, Bacon and so on.


#9

Specifically his main points and what I am looking for help answering are:

  1. Lack of historical records of Jesus beyond the bible.

kthbeatle,

Check the following website:

westarkchurchofchrist.org/library/extrabiblical.htm

It’s just one of the websites that came up when I googled “historical evidence for Jesus”. I knew there were other non-Christian sources, but couldn’t remember the names. As you’ll see, there are other historians who have mentioned Jesus.

Although Jesus would eventually become a world transforming figure, at the time He was living and crucified He would have appeared to be a very inconsequential person in the eyes of any secular power. Therefore not anymore worthy of mention in their history annals than hundreds of other “criminals”. Even the Jews did not grasp His importance or foresee His world wide effects.

Will remember your friend in prayer.

Nita


#10

k5thbeatle

May I suggest a book? Try reading (or letting your friend read) the book “Why Christ?” by David J. Carlson. It’s a very good book for defending the faith, especially against atheistic and agnostic POVs. It starts with the proof of God’s existence through logic and science, the reliability and authenticity of the scriptures, the proof of Christ’s existence (using logic, historical data, and the already proved scripture), and finishes it with the teachings of the Kerygma. It may answer most, though not all, your questions… Plus it’s not that expensive… Just around 5 dollars. Hope it helps. :smiley:

Jess


#11

I am afraid you lost me on this one about the mushroom? Can you elaborate? Thank you (all) for the response(s).

I will check out your book and the few others mentioned.


#12

That is true - there are a few references that he existed and was crucified and that he has some followers but nothing else - especially nothing contemporary or objective referring to his teachings or works. Everything we have was written by only 3 or 4 of those who already believed.

  1. He questions the date of writing of the new testaments (linked to #1)

All scholars do the same thing - there is only some very general agreement. The origins of the writings are immaterial if you merely believe they are insprired.

  1. Many of the biblical events defy scientific analysis

That is true - science does not deal with or address the supernatural. Belief in their authenticity is purely a matter of faith.

  1. He reasons that mythology is as old as man and hence Christianity is but the latest version of myths. He even cites commonalities between myths and Christianity arguing that they again are but the latest version of mythology.

There is no way to prove this either way - it is purely a matter of faith.

  1. Being “religious” is somehow genetically linked? He argues that those that are religious are so only because of some genetic predisposition?

That may be true, we just don’t know yet. But there is always that element of faith…


#13

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