What REALLY Moves and Persuades Atheists

An atheist wrote on my blog: “I left the Catholic faith in stages. . . . [many atheist reasons given] Sell me on coming back to Mass, Dave. Give me the best you’ve got.”

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I don’t think someone like you can be persuaded with rational arguments. You have accepted all these ideas that I think rest on false premises and have built up an edifice which you think demonstrates that Catholicism is false. That can’t be deconstructed in a short time, and certainly not by arguments.

I could try to dismantle them one-by-one, but you wouldn’t likely be convinced. And if I knocked ’em all down (even in your eyes), you’d just find some other ones. That’s what skeptics and atheists do. I know; I’ve been interacting with them as a Christian apologist for now 36 years.

What you need is a miracle right in front of your face. There are plenty of documentations of miracles, such as the cures at Lourdes, but atheists always find some way to (inadequately) dismiss them.

Or you need a profound act of love that could warm up your frozen heart: like someone saving your life or leaving all their money to you: something that would start you wondering why they did this thing. It’s very difficult for me to do that as a writer, through the screen. But I can say that I care about you and your soul, just as I do about all people.

I want you and everyone to be as happy and fulfilled and joyful and at peace as I am with this Christianity that I have found (Catholicism in particular).

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Atheist and friend Jon Curry stated: “I’m starting to think that argumentation barely plays a role in persuading people. Maybe a little.”

That’s what I’ve thought for about 34 years. Welcome aboard!

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The first atheist also asked: “Have you ramped up your engagement with skeptical bloggers because perhaps you are wondering about your own faith commitment?”

Not at all. I’m as confident as ever, and each story I look at it confirms yet again and all the more that atheism doesn’t have a leg to stand on and that my beliefs are indeed true ones.

Why I did it at this time is quite simple. I follow my “muse” at any given time. I write about hundreds of topics within theology and apologetics. I just came back from a 24-day trip to Alaska, considered what I’d like to start writing about again, and thought first of analyzing “deconversion stories” (which I had already done in the past: John Loftus being one of my main critiques).

It could have been any number of topics, but that one came into my head, and so I followed the muse. It’s one of my secrets of self-motivation and of being so prolific in my writing.

I usually deal with atheists in cycles, anyway. I tire of it after a while, do something else, and then feel like it again after so many months or years.

Generally speaking, I think now is a time for Christians to do more apologetics about atheism and to have more dialogues with atheists, because your movement is growing, and the result, I believe, will be more miserable people, who (if they think about it fully and with complete consistency) will ultimately be in despair at a meaningless world and universe. So it’s a motive of love again. I don’t want to see anyone get to that place when there is so much more to life and existence.

If I’m all wrong in the end, then so be it. At least I did what I thought would help other people, and not what would hurt them. The motive was love, not malice. If all I have left when I die (if there is no afterlife or God) is a legacy to my children and those who knew me, of service and compassion for others, I’ll take that any day.

In either case, it’s worth doing. If there is a God and heaven, I have helped a few souls to believe in Him and to get there. If not, my motives have been pure (albeit misguided and based on falsehood, if that turns out to be the case). It’s certainly not the profit motive that leads me on!

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(originally 7-21-17)

Photo credit: photograph of badge created c. 1987, from 24 November 2011 [public domain / Wikimedia Commons]

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