Healthy Life & Soul
1/12/16 at 09:01 PM 20 Comments

What Not to Say to an Atheist

text size A A A
(c) Fotolia

Spirituality comes in many forms. But, for atheists, spirituality can be a lot more complex and doesn't revolve around the traditional God or other higher power that most of us believe in. Too often people believe that atheists will "change their ways" if they're just convinced of the existence of god, and so atheists are subjected to incessant lectures by well-meaning individuals. Believe me, atheists have heard all of the arguments before—many times. That's the wrong way to interact with an atheist, whether the person is a stranger or a friend.

Unless you're actually trying to annoy an atheist (which would beg the question "why?"), read up on these examples below.


Preaching at an atheist is pretty much like running your fingernails up and down a chalkboard. When you're preaching or proselytizing like this, you're not having a conversation. You're having a one-sided "discussion" as you try your best to change the atheist's beliefs or show them how wrong they are. It's actually kind of abusive, so stop it.

Quoting the Bible

Most religions, if not all of them, have some sort of religious text that provide structure and guidance for followers of that religion. For many of us, the Bible is close at hand or in our heads, and we have passages that guide is in our decisions and world view. But atheists don’t care about bible quotes for the simple reason that they don’t believe in a religion or God. Quoting religious text will only convince the atheist that the conversation no longer has a point.

"Prove that God Doesn't Exist"

If we fail in an attempt to convince someone on the existence of God, it can be tempting to transfer that burden of proof to the other person. The problem is that the atheist isn’t the one trying to prove that something exists. In fact, atheists are not trying to prove anything at all – they simply don’t believe in a god (and may not even care whether or not a god even exists). Asking the person to "prove" that god doesn't exist is yet another way to create a pointless conversation.

Repeating Yourself

If your arguments don't sway an atheist, speaking more loudly or repeating (or rephrasing) those arguments isn't going to do the trick.

"I'll Pray for You"

Prayer is a source of strength for many of us and a great comfort when our life or the world around us is painful or troubling. But atheists don't derive strength or comfort from religious prayer. Telling atheists that you are praying for them flies in the face of their beliefs. Some may even view it as a sign of disrespect. We can pray for them on our own time, that is our right. The problem is announcing it to them. It’s almost like you are taking a superior stance, declaring them wrong with your presuppositions.

While atheism isn’t a religion or a belief system, it is still something that guides a person, something that should be respected. The common thread with any of these showstoppers is that it ignores that fact and calls the atheist wrong, instead of promoting critical thought and consideration. Avoid doing that and an atheist will be like any other person – capable of love and of a happy life.

CP Blogs do not necessarily reflect the views of The Christian Post. Opinions expressed are solely those of the author(s).