Need help with athiest friend

I’m sure someone has posted this before, pardon me if it has been posted…I have a athiest friend who during a dinner party, starts up a conversation on how the world began and why do “I think” there is a God who created the world six thousand years ago when science clearly shows that it’s billions of years old?
He knows I’m Catholic and seems to try and corner me with this every time we are in a group of people. I’m trying my best to defend my faith…but I need more amo.:knight2:
any suggestions?
thanks brothers and sisters in Christ

I do not have all the answers (very few in fact) and I’m looking forward to a similar conversation in the near future. First I’m not familiar with any part of the Bible that says it’s been 6000 years… 2011 since Christ but other than that… I’d be curious to know where his timing came from. But from a logical standpoint the only answer I’ve come up with is this which is what I’ve said to people in the past when explaining why I now believe…

You may find my beliefs ignorant and science may point to a lot of things but it all came from somewhere. To completely denounce the idea that there is something much greater than all of us and much greater than science is in and of itself ignorant. If you want proof I’ve none to offer but do you have any proof that I’m wrong?

oh, the old and over used “God doesn’t exist because SCIENCE” argument. I sure a lot more people can offer better examples then me, but I heard someone else say that “God is a master artist, and like any artist he does not just wave his fingers and the art is right in front of him. no, he uses tools”
also, if your friend is at all referring to the big bang theory, you tell them that it was composed by a catholic priest.
and believing that 6000 years thing is not a required part of our faith

Some advice from a non-Christian. Looking in from the outside it seems that the Christians who make the most noise, especially in the USA, are the Young Earth Biblical literalist 6,000 year types. The easiest way to deflect his argument is to say that you don’t accept the 6,000 year interpretation and that you accept the standard scientific age of the universe, 13.5 billion years.

In short, your position can be, ‘God made the universe and science is telling us how He did it.’ That almost completely removes any science based argument he may have. If God made the universe, and scientists are looking at that same universe then scientists are looking at God’s handiwork.

You may also want to remind him that one of the originators of the Big Bang theory was Monsignor Georges Lemaître, a Catholic priest.

rossum

I don’t think anyone thinks the world was created only 6,000 years ago. God’s been around a lot longer than that! In fact, you could tell your atheist friend that God HAD to have created the world, because no one else was around then! :smiley:

Seriously, if I was at that dinner party, I would have asked my “friend” what makes him think he has the right to ask such a fiery question, which is obviously a ferocious attack against those with religious beliefs and is solely designed to cause a heated debate. It is self-serving and rude to the host. Unless, of course, he was the host. In that case, he’s a lousy host! That doesn’t really sound like nice dinner-party activity.

That would be my answer instead of defending the faith, because it sounds like your defense (no matter how good) would fall on deaf ears. Why frustrate yourself? Point out his rudeness and inappropriate table manners and end it there.

Religious issues and politiics sohuld never be discussed at the dinner table,***** slap him into next week.

Pick up this book: Critical Thinking (Beginner’s Guides)

Learn how to think critically and evaluate arguments. In this case, your friend is committing a strawman informal fallacy. In other words, he is attacking a belief (i.e., the earth is 6,000 years old) that you do not have. No Catholic is committed to such a belief, and the Bible nowhere states the age of the earth.

If you really want to spar with your friend intelligently, you will need to seek out resources like the above and immerse yourself in them. Have patience. And pray. If you need help or if you need other book recommendations, you can PM me.

That is very good advice. However, it is particularly hard to argue with an atheist because they have no faith. At least when you’re dealing with those of other denominations, your argument starts out on more solid ground because it is between two people who posses faith to at least some degree. Since it takes faith to understand the truths of religion, arguing with an atheist is like shining a bright light into a blind man’s eyes… it’s pretty much useless. If atheists want to debate, it’s usually because they want to antagonize you. They don’t necessarily want to be enlightened - because they have no faith. For some reason, they won’t rest until everyone around them shares their lack of faith.

My initial reaction would be to tell your friend to shut the Hell up. He wouldn’t appreciate your imposition of belief on him, demand the equal right to hold what is sacred and let him hold what is meaningless and pitiful. I wouldn’t word it quite so colourfully, however. But you might challenge him philosophically. Most atheists are relativists. And most atheists claim to have the intellectual high ground because they believe they are free-thinkers. However, the atheist, you might note, is just as bound to believe his credo as you are ours. Your friend, being an atheist, likely believes in the spontaneous, purposeless materialisation of the universe. Without an ultimate objective truth there can be no right or wrong, therefore his attemts to challenge your beliefs are rooted in a skewed concept of altruism. You could challenge him to the point of why he would want to ruin your sense of security in our faith when research shows that atheism is detrimental to mental health. I have a friend that was until recently an atheist. She denied the existence of God because of moral evil. She also believed in evolution, if you can dismantle biological arguments aimed your way and diffuse moral objections, than seeds of doubt, if opre-existent, can be burnt. I used to be an atheist. When I challneged my Catholic friend in high school the presence of my own morality was my stumbling block. Atheists occasionally have better morals than religious folk, and while better morals (in some cases) contribute to the theoretical ascent of man, they can just as easily be stumbling blocks. I would recommend you study Peter Kreeft. Also, there is a website I regularly peruse, admittedly it isn’t Catholic, but it is very utilitarian. The website is www.godandscience.org which is run by a convert from deism named Rich Deem. There are an extensive number of articles dealing with the scientific (astrophysical, biological, philosophical and sociological) fallacies of atheism. But in the end, you can only pray for your friend. If the heart is too hard than it won’t pump sufficient levels of oxygen to the brain in order for proper thought to occur. In the end, if your friend can’t respect your beliefs, which conttribute to who you are, than he really isn’t your friend. I pray for your success.

God bless,

Ditto

Ditto +1

You tell him you agree that the universe is billions of years old because it’s a lot older than that. God planned everything before he created and God is nothing but thoughts where all his plans were made. His first creation was light energy that was needed for the rest of God’s creation and to form the atoms for the physical worlds and bodies for us to use. If you think this only took six days, then you shouldn’t be interpreting the scriptures.

The six day creation is only a symbolic story because there’s no time in God. Even if it took trillions of years to plan and created everything, we’ll never understand it anyway. How long is infinite? Science believe they know how old the universe is but there estimates have changed from 300 million years when I was in school to over ten billion years today, forty years later. So it’s obvious they don’t have the truth, either.

Only God knows how old everything is so just forget about how old the earth is because no man knows. It’s timeless and man wasn’t around when it happened so they can’t testify to the truth. Everyone is lying about the age so just leave it up to God and agree with your atheist friend. Would you rather have a friend or an enemy over something you can’t possibly understand? The Bible is only a testimony by the prophets and saints who witnessed the spirit of God within them and the one who gave them the inspired words to write.

The Bible itself is not the way to the truth because untruthful people can’t interpret the scriptures without deceiving themselves. Only God can interpret the scriptures and he needs a sinless saint or Jesus in order to do that. Christians are sinners, not sinless saints so that’s why there are over 30,000 denominations of Christianity today. None of them have the truth to interpret the scriptures correctly.

.38 caliber should do the trick.

Ok, just joking. But to give you a more serious response…

The idea of the planet being approximately 6000 years old comes from certain biblical fundamentalists who calculated this based upon the genealogy of Genesis (i.e., start with Adam and count up all the “begats”). This also presumes that the days of creation actually happened in 24-hour cycles (and therefore not much time existed between the creation of earth and the creation of Adam).

Catholics, however, are free to believe that the representation of time within the story of creation is symbolic. These are “primordial days” rather than 24-hour cycles, so they could represent vast expanses of time. Ancient humans could not grasp the concept of billions of years (nor did they need to), so the creation account was simply expressed as a week’s worth of days. Moreover, what the term “day” means to God does not have to equal what a “day” means to us (such as 24 hours).

Going back to the genealogy of Genesis, what we could be seeing is a representative sample of a much larger lineage. An illiterate ancient culture would value its lineage but would still have to commit it to memory as the only way to record it, and then verbally teach it to each new generation. It would be impossible to do this with a genealogy which spans millions of years, and therefore using a representative sample would be a necessity.

Or it could be said that the genealogy of Genesis is not representative, but there was a large expanse of time between the creation of the earth and the creation of humans.

It also occurred to me that the idea of a 6000 year old earth is still within the realm of possibility. And although I personally don’t believe in a literal fundamentalist interpretation of Genesis, I will give a defense for the Christians who do. If God can create a brand new universe, he can likewise create an old one. Consider how we tend to imagine the creation of Adam. The Bible does not say, but we usually don’t think of Adam being created as a new born infant who then grows up in the Garden of Eden. Rather we tend to think of God creating him as a fully adult man. For the sake of this example, let us presume an age of 21. Now what if a team of doctors and scientists built a time machine and visited Adam the day after his creation and examined him? How old would they conclude he is based upon scientific analysis? Technically, Adam is only one day old, but a scientific and medical examination would conclude that he was 21 years old. What I am suggesting is that the same thing could be said of planet earth (i.e., that God could have created an already mature earth rather than a brand new one).

I don’t know if this helps but I came across this website that has an interesting video on the subject. which has a scientific explaination.
noevolution.org/

Religious issues and politiics sohuld never be discussed at the dinner table,***** slap him into next week.

Paul, well said! :thumbsup:

As others have said, just point out that you are not a Biblical literalist. The Catholic chuch as a whole considers some parts of the Bible to be allegorical or poetic.

Specifically, Catholic doctrine does not call for the Earth being 6,000 years old. So point out:

1: This is a straw-man fallacy, where he is arguing against a position or opinion you do not hold. It would be like trying to tell a person they shouldn’t have voted for a particular political figure, even though the person in question did no such thing.

2: Tell your friend they are being very rude. If they want to discuss religion, it should not be done at the dinner table. If you are willing to discuss those issues, let them know a time and place that might be more appropriate.

Many THANKS to all of you who posted suggestions…I found a lot of great info on this website www.godandscience.org posted by John Carlton.
really gets to the heart of the matter on “what atheists think” and how they get it wrong with their theory of the universe.
I really enjoyed Quotes from Scientists Regarding Design of the Universe…very intresting!

If you are a Catholic, just be careful using that site as a resource as it seems to be written by Evangelical Christians, not Catholics. Just something to keep in mind.

If one looks at the website from a sheerly Apologetic lens, they should be fine with Mr. Deem’s website. Godandscience.org was the proverbial nail in the coffin that now holds my previously atheistic worldview. But I’m still Catholic. Or I will be, rather, after I’m baptised into the Church. Really, the site is aimed primarily at the conversion of atheists, Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons. Mr. Deem says that the Eucharist is not supported by Scripture, but the Gospel of John and Saints Peter and Paul seem to disagree. So I’m sticking with them. Another frustratingly intelligent apologist is Frank Tipler, who defends Marian Apparitions and the Real Presence in his book The Physics of Christianity, but the talk about how he thinks God wants us to become computer programmes got on my nerves and I aborted the project of reading the book. www.CARM.org is most definitely anti-Catholic, despite her claims. But the site can be useful if you want to argue against the Raelins, Wiccans and evolutionists. But, debunking the Raelians and Wiccans is pretty simply. Take away the Raelians’ narcotics and tell the Wiccan they can’t rhyme about the goddess anymore, those are their biggest weapons. Still, one thing anyone who wishes to defend the faith must be able to do is use the propaganda of the enemy, or unwitting ally, and use it to one’s advantage. Mr. Deem has cited Catholic apologists and even has links to a Catholic Apologetics ministry. Also, if your atheist friend knows you’re using only Catholic resources he/she/it might say “oh, well, if you can’t find anything outside your Church…” Of course, if you use outside sources he/she/it might say “oh, well, if you can’t even find anything inside your own Church…” I suppose it brings us back to the concept of Grace, only an Act of God will bring about the conversion of an atheist. My own conversion was possible, I think, because of my paradoxical love for the Jews. My auxilary was always, if my fake gods turned out to be fake (and they did) that nagging inner-voice which I now recognise as my conscience, would ask me if I wasn’t mistaken about the God of the Jews. The Good News is, Jesus is that God. But such optimism probably won’t work on your friend. The best thing you can do is to be stubborn. God willing, you have the stamina to butt heads with an atheist. I know when I was an atheist I didn’t have the stamina to butt heads with God, which is why I converted. Anyway, best of luck with the crusade.

God bless,

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