And by “do nothing,” I mean he says to pray. So, same thing.
On Monday, Billy Graham published a Q&A on his website where he addressed relationships between Christians and atheists. A reader asked the following question:
My best friend and I enjoy each other’s company, but I’m a Christian and he says he’s an atheist. I’ve tried to argue with him, but he just laughs and says I ought to grow up and forget about God. How can I win him over?
How about just continue to be friends and stop trying to push your religion on him. It’s fucking annoying.
Anyway, Graham’s answer contained the following:
You can point him in the right direction—but to be honest, you can’t win him over by yourself (as you’ve discovered). He’s convinced that he is right—and even if he has secret doubts, his pride probably gets in the way.
Yes, that’s correct. Your argument for the existence of God lacks evidence and is unconvincing on its own. Your friend is proud that he has used reason, logic, and critical thinking to come to the conclusion that there’s absolutely no reason for him to believe in an invisible being in the sky guiding the 0.0000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000000003% of the observable universe we inhabit (yes, that’s just the amount we can see from Earth). I contend that if there is a creator, its spatial planning skills are horrible.
Graham goes on:
The most important thing you can do for your friend is to pray for him, asking God to convict him of his sin and his pride and convince him of his need for Christ.
He goes on still:
In addition, encourage him to face honestly the consequences of his atheism (which many atheists, I’ve discovered, never do). If God doesn’t exist (as he claims), then he has no hope of life after death. Nor does he have anyone to turn to when he needs guidance, or when life turns against him.
Oh dear. Open atheists face the consequences of their atheism every day. From ostracism to familial conflicts, to outright bigotry and discrimination, to imprisonment or death in some cultures, trust us, we feel it. And those consequences aren’t coming from a god; they’re coming from righteous Christians and other religious fanatics like you. And as far as having no one to turn to for guidance or comfort, that’s just nonsense. I’d rather turn to the people I trust and relationships we have to fill those needs than to carry on a one-sided conversation with an imaginary friend.
My advice to the person who sent in this question (if he even exists and wasn’t a strawman made up by Billy Graham) is to focus on enjoying the friendship and camaraderie you have with your atheist friend. Most of my friends and family are believers and don’t try to convince me to believe their dogma, just as I don’t try to burst their Bronze Age ideological bubble. It’s called respect. Once you stop showing that, you can say goodbye to your friendship altogether.