Evangelizing Atheists

A couple friends on Facebook today mentioned an article on wikiHow entitled “How To Persuade a Christian To Become Atheist.” It’s a step by step guide to getting friends to question their theism without frightening them away. Apart from some errors in grammar and syntax, the article is pretty basic and logical, and emphasizes the importance of deepening one’s understanding of both sides of the issue. I’m familiar with some Christian patterns of evangelizing that utilize some of the same broad principles. Any thoughts on evangelizing atheists? Surprising? Unsurprising?

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4 responses to “Evangelizing Atheists

  • RT

    Atheism is an all-encompassing framing interpretation of experienced reality, just as are theistic approaches and worldviews. And as somewhat distinct sets of values, motivations for behavior, and approaches to meaning-making are implicated in each, it is no surprise that one side would try to evangelize the other.

  • Patrick Mefford

    As an atheist I found the entire thing shallow and ridiculous. If I consider someone my friend, it is because I enjoy their company and we share mutual interests and neither of those things are dependent on certain metaphysical beliefs or ideas about what happened in the past. As the article mentions, religious beliefs are often deeply held convictions that help infuse a person’s life with a sense of purpose and meaning, why would you want to try and dislodge that?

    I’m drawing on Aristotle’s distinction here but the whole process is just the practice of rhetoric instead of dialectic. The former is the art of persuasion while the latter requires two or more people engaged in a principled search for the truth. Rhetoric absolutely has its place, but convincing someone to give up some very important to them so they can ascent to your beliefs has more to do with what conmen practice than folks selling a car stereo or trying to convince their neighbor to vote a certain way on a referendum.

    If you are already committed to atheism then you should already be knowledgeable of all the common apologetic arguments and how apologists and evangelists will utilize physics and biology to buttress their arguments. How else could you come to an epistemic justified position and NOT know what the counter arguments are? And for Pete’s sake you don’t set out to debunk an argument! You’ve already committed yourself to a position before you even really understand what is being said by someone and that comes dangerously close to intellectual dishonesty.

    I could go on and on but I think my point is clear. I’m disheartened to see popular atheism copying the worst aspect of Evangelicalism.

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