Christians sometimes find themselves engaging in dialogue with people identify as atheists. Often, these conversations will amount to nothing more than intellectual sparring or preaching. The atheist is only looking for a platform to recite the latest one-liner that they read in a meme. Yet the conversation persists out of pride. The Christian does not know when to back away from the conversation because they may not have a lot of experience with atheists. One needs to realize that congruence is unlikely. There are times when continuing in the conversation with an atheist is no longer prudent or helpful. Hence, we should withdraw when the conversation seems to reach its’ capacity (with atheists, this capacity is often quite limited). I would like to suggest that there are 7 ways to tell if an atheist is not worth your time.
1 – They tell you what you believe. Atheists often come from a Christian background wherein they were taught certain precepts. Upon investigation, these precepts were found to be lacking and this led to the eventual abandonment of the Christian faith. Now, when this atheist encounters Christians, he assumes that they all believe exactly what he did. It is unthinkable that there is a more robust version of Christian theology. For if the breed of Christianity that you represent is less defeasible, it follows that they could have been wrong about their criticisms of Christian belief and will have to re-evaluate the system and question their atheism. This means that many atheists will accuse you of believing certain things and will not listen what you summarize your views in a different way. This is one of 7 ways to tell if an atheist is no longer worth your time. Why should you bother talking to somebody who thinks that they already know what you are going to say?
2 – Both of you are trying to have the last word. Discussions between people who disagree are often perennial and lead to frustration because neither party is willing to end the discussion. If they do not have the last word, then they think that they have left a particular point hanging in the air and have conceded the entire debate to them. But when you are at a point wherein you are just trying to have the last word, then it is likely that you are just repeating earlier content. That is just unnecessary and it makes you look foolish. Rather, if you already outlined or summarized your case, and you feel confident in your arguments and counter-arguments, there is no need to repeat it again. Even if the atheist brushes passed your arguments and repeats their original point, or summarizes your argument in an unsympathetic way, you should not feel inclined to repeat yourself. If their last word is pathetic and unimpressive, rest in the confidence in the arguments that you already made.
3 – They start talking about the Flying Spaghetti Monster. This would also apply to Santa Claus, fairies, leprechauns and other nonsense. If they start comparing your belief in the existence of God to that sort of thing, then this individual obviously has no respect for you and they are not worth engaging. For nobody comes to believe in Santa Claus as an adult. There are no adult conversions to belief in Santa Claus. There are no scientists who come to believe in Santa Claus the basis of scientific data. The agnostic astronomer with NASA, Dr Robert Jastrow said in his book God And The Astronomer, “For the scientist who puts his trust in the power of reason, the story ends like a bad dream. He has scaled the mountains of ignorance. He is about the conquer the highest peek. As he pulls himself over the final rock, he is greeted by a band of theologians who have been sitting there for centuries.” There is no equivalent to this with regard to belief in Santa Claus. The atheist who renders this comparison is not a critical thinker, has no respect for you and therefore, this is one of 7 ways to tell if an atheist is not worth your time.
4 – They imply their intellectual superiority. The most common method of feeding pride is by contrast. People will contrast themselves with others to demonstrate their intellectual superiority. Atheists are fond of exercising this. They will tell religious people that that once they read the Bible, they began to read the Bible, they become atheists. Therefore, they reason, if religious people read the Bible as well, they would be atheists. Since they are not atheists, it follows that they do not read the Bible. This also chauffeurs with it the implication that atheists know more about religion than religious people. They will cite Pew Forums wherein atheists may have scored high in a particular category. But what is interesting about that survey is that atheists score lower in the category of Christianity than Christians do. However, they score higher in general religion. Atheists and Mormons lead the knowledge of general religion. Well done to the atheists and the elders. But still, again, they score lower in their knowledge of Christian belief. Either way, the only reason that they would bring up this misinformation is to feed their pride. If somebody is just trying to elevate their intellectual repute by stomping on yours, that is one of 7 ways to tell if an atheist is not worth your time.
5 – They caricature Christian belief. Atheists are often caught attacking straw men. This means that they will conjure up versions of Christian theology that are easier to attack and refute. They will attack the cartoon version of Christian belief rather than the robust and carefully nuanced theology that we believe in. For example, atheists have constructed a meme that says that Christianity is the belief that “A Jewish zombie will make you live forever… et cetera, et cetera.” Obviously, this is just a poor and insulting caricature. Christians believe that Jesus rose from the dead, but they do not believe that he is a mindless zombie. For a zombie is one whose body is no longer inhabited by the human mind. It is just a walking virus. But in the case of Jesus, he was raised in an incorruptible body to glory and immortality. But that is not at all akin to a zombie. If the atheist renders that criticism, they are just trying to construct a version of Christianity that is easier to refute. They are not interested in an open and honest discussion. Hence, this is one of 7 ways to tell if an atheist is not worth your time.
6 – They do not listen to your responses and are only out to refute you. When we engage in debates with people, it is often the case that they do not really want to hear what you have to say. They do not want to take your arguments seriously. They do not care about arguments and they do not care why you believe what you believe. They only care about what they believe. Your beliefs stand in the way of that, and therefore, they need to find a way to refute it. Symptoms of this will be that no matter what you say, they are presenting little ways to refute it. They are only interested in refuting your arguments and debating you. But they are not interested in considering that you may be right.
7 – They reply in memes and one-liners. Anybody who has spent a significant amount of time speaking with several atheists will notice something astonishing. They all say exactly the same things. They will recite clever little soundbites that they heard somebody else say which they have committed to rote memory. They will say things like, “I just go one God further,” Or “who designed the designer?” or “If you had been born in India…” These are not to considered to be serious arguments. Rather, they are one-liners and memes. They read these arguments in pictures that they saw on the internet. They are bumper-sticker arguments, but there is really no latitude behind them. Atheists will often promulgate these bumper-sticker arguments. When they do that, you can be sure that they are not really thinking seriously about the conversation that they are engaging in. They are just looking for a platform to recite their favorite one-liner. Thus, this is one of 7 ways to tell if an atheist is not worth your time.
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