Taking Advice from an Atheist
by Lenny Esposito
I recently ran across an article entitled “How to Persuade a Christian to Become Atheist “on the WikiHow website, offering fifteen steps atheists should follow if they wish to “deconvert” their friends or simply put up a proper argument for their atheism. The article is interesting and a bit controversial given some of the comments in its discussion section. I think some of the points are forced, some are wrong, and some show a bit of bias. Yet there are some pieces of advice here that I actually agree with and would encourage people to follow.
Become an Educated Objector
One of the first pieces of advice the article offers is that atheists seeking to defend their view is to:
Educate yourself. The key to reasoning with someone is to understand their position as well as your own. Read everything you can about atheism, Christian apologetics and religious history. A number of Christians, for example, don’t know the origins of their religion outside of a biblical context so having an understanding of the history can be beneficial.1
I think this is actually a good piece of advice. I have too many times run across people who object to my beliefs but hold to a caricature of both Christianity’s history and what the Christian faith teaches. Historic claims such as religion is the cause of most wars, Christianity expanded through violence, Christians in the Middle Ages believed the earth was flat, and the supposed pagan origins of Christmas and Easter can all be dismissed if one were to dig into the historical sources.
Asking people to read about not just atheism but also Christian apologetics and religious history is proper and important. I would add, though, that in order for this task to be effective one shouldn’t limit themselves to atheist authors and what they have said regarding those subjects. Read about Christian apologetics by reading the articles of Christian apologists. Find religious history articles by religious historians. Go to the sources. I have read popular atheists like Carrier, Dawkins, Hitchens, Harris, and Peter Boghossian, but I’ve also read sophisticated works by David Hume, Michael Ruse, and others.
Reading from the “horse’s mouth” if you will can cut down on misunderstandings. One can see the argument in its larger context…
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