I’m talking with an athiest friend of mine. He is kinda, almost getting to be interested in christianity. He doesn’t believe in God, but he is a caring person and we are just discussing religion and the existence of God. It’s a friendly discussion, but I just wanted to know if there was somewhere I should start. He says that he just can’t believe when he starts thinking about it rationally. I just want help on how to go with this because I don’t want to turn him away for good. I’m no apologist, so any help would be apprieciated, and prayers!
[quote=Catholicgolfer]I’m talking with an athiest friend of mine. He is kinda, almost getting to be interested in christianity. He doesn’t believe in God, but he is a caring person and we are just discussing religion and the existence of God. It’s a friendly discussion, but I just wanted to know if there was somewhere I should start. He says that he just can’t believe when he starts thinking about it rationally. I just want help on how to go with this because I don’t want to turn him away for good. I’m no apologist, so any help would be apprieciated, and prayers!
I would recommend Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis and Everlasting Man by G.K. Chesterton, great books for Catholics, other Christians, non-Christians, and athiests alike. The five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas serve as, in my opinion, the best proofs for the existence of God around and even if his physics may be called into question today at some points, there are modern adaptations of the ways out there. At some point, though, it becomes necessary to go beyond mere rationality and take a leap of faith, I would stress that faith is in no way contrary to reason, that we take leaps of faith constantly in our everyday life. Of course, setting a good example and praying for him are indespensible. God bless and I will keep you in my prayers.
Since I used to be an atheist, maybe I can help. Below is something I posted on another thread when someone asked me how I went from being an atheist to being Catholic. I’m no apologist either, but this is what I said. I’m trying to cram a lifetime into a few paragraphs, so if you have any specific questions, please let me know.
When you are told by your parents that you are nothing more than a glorified animal with a more advanced nervous system, that’s exactly what you turn into and learn to live by pure instinct. I never really allowed myself attach to anyone growing up. So I guess I didn’t really care if I ever saw them again. The words, “I love you” were basically forbidden in my house as a sign of weakness and dependence on others.
As far as fear of death, there were a couple times in my life where I was actually borderline suicidal. When you are in despair sometimes you just want to get things over with, because you just don’t see any point in anything. I chose to try and kill myself slowly with partying, smoking, booze, drugs and sleeping with any girl that had a heartbeat. If you’re gonna just die anyway, why not have some fun? I also became a masochist and engaged in self mutilation. I used to love taking a BIC lighter and lighting it upside down until the top was red hot, then I would burn myself with it (usually 2nd to 3rd degree) just because I liked the rush it gave me. Even an atheist has to be a slave to some kind of god(s), mine were “pleasure and pain”.
Satan’s greatest wish that we all turn out like I was. He wants everyone to be an atheist, because then he doesn’t have to worry about a thing. Atheists are totally in his grip and don’t even realize it. I’m sure he thinks that’s just hilarious, because even the most horrible Satanists still believe in God. In fact as you can probably tell by my comments, I started to believe in the reality of Satan even before God, and it was that belief that led me to Christ.
I just feel like Jesus had his finger on me from day one and would lift it from me until I finally gave in. I truly feel “He chose me”, and no matter how much I tried to ignore Him or run away He just wouldn’t give up. There was always this inner-turmoil inside of me that knew there must be much more to existence than what we know with our senses.
For instance, I remember when I was in eighth grade my Science teacher telling us matter cannot be created or destroyed, only changed from one form to another. Well, if that’s the case then where the heck did it all come from? At one point and time something had to be made out of nothing in some way. It’s illogical to think anything else.
Also how can things as complicated at the order of the universe, DNA or human thought be some sort of cosmic mishap. For instance, lets say I were to take a clock, completely disassemble it, and bury it in the ground . One hundred years later someone digs it up. What do you think the chances are they will find a perfectly assembled running clock? How about nil. There is now way a clock could form itself by chance, right? If so what is the probability? Yet the structure of something a simple as a leaf on any plant is 1000 times more complicated than a clock and yet is supposed to be some accident that happened by chance? Come on! The probabilities are insurmountable.
These sorts of thoughts are what converted my brain. My heart took a little while longer. That took God stepping in and putting me with the woman who is now my wife 12 years ago. When we met we were both at real low points in our lives. We are real living proof that God can form something out of nothing because the chances of us making it were about as good as the buried clock.
We discovered together that we had the same inner-turmoil and longing for holiness and truth. Neither of us had ever been baptized but we decided together to stop ignoring the whisper of the Holy Spirit and give in.
Now you are probably thinking, “Why Catholic”? Seems like a pretty far jump. For my wife, her family had historically been Catholic, and she had always respected that sacredness and history of the Church. For me I guess I decided if I was going to accept all this, I wanted the deluxe package. If I wanted Christ, I wanted ALL of Him and everything He left for us. I wanted His body, blood, soul, and divinity flowing through me. I wanted his mother to be my spiritual mother. I wanted the Apostles and their successors, the Saints, and the Martyrs. I wasn’t going to settle for any watered down no-frills, mile wide and an inch deep faith. So I just jumped right in.
About eight years ago my wife and I were baptized into the Church together at the Easter Vigil. One of the most blessed things for me was knowing the horrible way I lived before then would be completely washed away through my baptism. Even all temporal punishment. It was truly a new start for me. I’m not saying it’s always been easy for me, but I can feel my roots of faith growing deeper every day. However, I still feel like I have a lot of make-up work to do.
I don’t know if anyone else is like my husband, but he found it easier to believe when after I started leaving books, written by people he respected, which dealt with their faith. (For him, it was conservatives–Buckley, Noonan, Bork, etc.) He wasn’t an atheist, but a cradle Catholic who, like me, had fallen away and he was beginning to worry about me as I began my journey back.
Don’t forget to pray for your buddy and greet his guardian angel when you see him. In the apostolate, prayer is number one.
I agree, the 5 proofs of St. Thomas. P. Kreeft has a cd that you can get at St. Joseph Communications entitled 7 Reasons Why Everyone Should Be Catholic. It’s a good quick breakdown of the reasonability of faith in the supernatural and the Catholic Church.
[quote=Catholicgolfer]I’m talking with an athiest friend of mine. … I just wanted to know if there was somewhere I should start.
First, I think it is important to recognize that faith in God is built on the certain knowledge that He exists. It is a dogma of the Church that man can know for certain whether or not there is a Creator. And faith in God presupposes this fact.
Second, I would encourage you to obtain a Green Scapular for your friend, and say the daily prayer on his behalf so that the Blessed Virgin may obtain the grace of faith for him in conjunction with your confidence in her.
One of the promises of the Green Scapular is “conversion of those who do not have the faith”.
See this link to another thread for what I offered to an atheist: