Mistakes Christians make when talking to Atheists

I enjoy conversations with people who do not think like me, especially atheists. They keep me on my toes and really make me think. Most of them have thought long and hard about the God question, as I have, but they have come to a different conclusion. Many atheists will tell you they get annoyed by the average theists with whom they dialogue. They feel that Christians are not very thoughtful about their faith and are not able to articulate even an elementary understanding of their core beliefs. I can understand this annoyance. So, I have put together some mistakes to avoid while conversing with the atheist.Arm_Wrestling

1. Labeling – Atheists are not devil-worshiping citizens with no morals. Some of them put many Evangelical Christians to shame with the way they live their lives. Most of them are not rude, or arrogant who refuse to carry on a conversation with you. Christians do no like it when we are lumped in with groups like the Westboro Baptist Church, so let’s not lump all non-believers into the same category.

2. Not listening – Christians just need to shut up sometimes and let the other side talk. We could learn a few things. We are so eager to preach, lecture and (unfortunately) condemn that we may be missing some legitimate concerns or questions that need addressing. I think people who have honest questions and concerns deserve honest responses.

3. Not knowing what you believe and why –  Many atheists are dumbfounded that Christians claim to worship this God who supposedly created everything yet they are ignorant about the Bible and what the Bible teaches. Two years ago, Atheists scored better on a test about Biblical knowledge than did their Christian counterparts. This is embarrassing. I am not claiming that every Christian be a theologian, but you must know SOME things about Christianity and be able to explain them and maybe even be familiar with some common objections. This requires WORK and STUDY.

4. Not admitting when you are wrong   – Whenever an atheist makes a good point or corrects an error in your thinking; ADMIT IT!! This can be a learning process for the Christian. Just because the person doesn’t think like you doesn’t mean they cannot make a good point or expose a weakness or flaw in your thinking. THAT’S OK! Admitting a mistake adds credibility to your position and will open up future dialogue.

5. Condescension –   This takes many forms but the most common is uttering the phrase, “I will pray for you!” Now I am not saying that we shouldn’t pray for people, but this is often used as a slogan to insult the atheist and they do not take it as genuine. It is much better to say, “Thank you for the conversation, it has been eye-opening. I hope we can meet again sometime.” The goal is understanding and mutual respect.

This list is obviously not exhaustive, but it definitely a good start. Just because someone disagrees with you or doesn’t think like you doesn’t mean you cannot form a relationship with them or learn from them. So Christians, avoid these mistakes and continue those dialogues.

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16 thoughts on “Mistakes Christians make when talking to Atheists

  1. Why is the onus always put on Christians to maintain civility?

    When was the last time anyone ever saw an atheist post title, “Mistakes Atheists Make When Talking to Christians?”

    Every atheist I’ve ever conversed with is a caldron of self-righteous anger.

    That’s why they but all responsibility to explain the argument and to ignore their incivility on the Christian.

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    • Hi, I’m an atheist and I would prefer to help change your perspective on this. I hope that by talking to a kind, civil atheist, you won’t expect that every atheist is a cauldron of self-righteous anger. Nice to meet you. 🙂

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  2. Why is the onus always put on Christians to maintain civility?

    Because, that’s what we are supposed to do. (I Pet.3:15 and Co.4:6) And yes, some atheists are angry and rude, but it doesn’t help for us to get that way.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Chan,

      All human beings in civil society are supposed to maintain civility because that is justice and justice is applied equally to all men.

      Expecting less of atheists than of Christians breaks the rule that requires of Christians that they not be condescending.

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      • Expecting more from oneself than from others is a quite good rule, if you ask me. Like someone once put it…

        “Why do you look at the speck of sawdust in your brother’s eye and pay no attention to the plank in your own eye?”

        If you ask my personal opinion, it seems a good thought to me to try to become better persons ourselves instead of proving our arrogance by believing to be wise enough to correct others.

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      • Expecting less of atheists than of Christians breaks the rule that requires of Christians that they not be condescending.

        I don’t think I expect less of atheists. I just don’t get bothered when they become uncivil. I cannot control their attitudes or actions I can only control mine.

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  3. Great points, Chan.

    silenceofmind, surely you know of some rude Christians? I’m an atheist and Chan is a friend of mine. We’ve had many great, civil discussions with each other in spite of our obvious differences of opinion. I’m sorry you’ve experienced negative behavior from atheists, but please recognize that most atheists have experienced exactly what you described from a great many Christians. Most atheists also realize that those poorly behaving Christians don’t represent all of you.

    And yes, both sides should follow these suggestions.

    Lee

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  4. It may tie into some of the others but I think another biggie:

    ‘Know the difference between what someone believes and what you feel they ought to believe.’

    I don’t know how many times people have misrepresented my Christian beliefs and I’m sure that Christians often mischaracterize the beliefs of atheists, agnostics, Muslims, Hindus and many other groups. I know several Christians that regularly repost misrepresentations on social media without bothering to find out if it’s true. Sometimes they accept a corrections and sometimes they don’t.

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  5. I would add that the Christians should not be afraid to reexamine their own assumptions about their ideas about God and the church. One thing I admire about (most) atheists is their willingness to study and change their point of view if presented with enough evidence . Some Christians dont want to consider any different point of view.. Which makes them difficult to approach.

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