But Paul wasn’t evangelising atheists, he was evangelising pagans, he was evangelising people who believed in divinity.
And he didn’t just roll up to them and start talking about Christ the Messiah, as he would have done if he was talking to the Jews. He met people where they were and built on that. When he gave his sermon in Athens (Acts 17:15-34) he used the Greeks belief in deities. He didn’t condemn them for believing in many deities, he actually praised them saying, “Athenians, I see how extremely religious you are in every way” and he used their ‘altar to the unknown god’ as a means to put the one true God into a meaningful context within their culture and beliefs. He took account of the cultural context in order to gain an audience that would listen and he evangelised in a way that made sense within the existing belief system of the target audience. If he’d rolled up, started condemning the Greeks for worshipping false gods, they’d have most likely just closed their ears and walked away, and if he’d started talking about Christ as the Messiah, they have thought “What sort of wierd mumbo-jumbo is this?” and walked of thinking, “Nutter”. But he didn’t do that, he cleverly used the cultural context he was evangelising within.
Using God, Heaven and Hell as a starting point to evangelise atheists might make us feel good within ourselves, but today’s atheist is likely to think “Here comes a religious nutter”, close his ears and walk away.
Paul met people where they were, when evangelising, and built upon what we beliefs we have in common with unbelievers (as shown by his sermon in Athens). But how do we do this with today’s atheists? How do we talk about God to someone who thinks that belief in God is in the same bracket as belief in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy?