Answering Atheists

Discussion in 'Theology and Doctrine' started by Khater, Apr 18, 2016.

  1. Khater

    Khater Member

    Posts:
    41
    Likes Received:
    19
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Traditional Catholic-SSPX
    I was talking to a guy who is an Atheist today. We started talking about the afterlife. He said that he doesn't believe in life after death for 2 reasons.
    1. He believes that the concept of an afterlife was "made up" by people who fear death.
    2. Another argument he made for no afterlife is "Just as we did not exist before we were conceived, so we do not exist after we die"
    How should I answer this guy?
     
  2. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    178
    Likes Received:
    203
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    As Lewis put it, if he's right and you're wrong then it all doesn't matter. But if you're right, and he's wrong ....

    Do you know Mitch Stokes' little book "A Shot of Faith to the Head"? Logical argument for the existence of a divine power and hence morality. I highly recommend it as a starting point in building arguments to atheists.
     
  3. Botolph

    Botolph Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,084
    Likes Received:
    2,339
    Country:
    Australia
    Religion:
    Anglican
    Hi Anne,

    Part of this discussion must come down to anthropology - and the anthropological questions of Psalm 8.

    If your view of anthropology is that it are but bits of matter, and that everything is explained on in the physical sense, and the atoms that comprise our being are simply subsumed and go on to whatever is next in the food chain and the cycle of life, then his view makes perfect sense.

    If you follow many traditions you may well be of a mind that a human person has a soul, a spirit, an esse, which is beyond the touching with hands, then it may well be logical to conclude that the spirit of the human person lives on beyond the grave.

    Perhaps more correctly in the Judaeo-Christian tradition it is probably more correct to say that the human person has a body, because the physical expression of the person, is simply that, the physical expression of the person. The essence of the human person is however spirit, and the body is only a way to connect with that spirit for the three score year and ten or if we have strength ...

    I suspect fear of death is a more modern aspiration, if you look at the Litany in the Book of Common Prayer the fear is expressed not as a fear of death, but as a fear of dying unprepared.

    From dying suddenly and unprepared
    Good Lord deliver us

    Ultimately I have concluded that it makes little sense to limit life simply to physical things, especially when it is clear to those who will see that there is so much more to life. When the cloud covers the sun it does not mean that there is no sun, simply that you cannot see it.
     
    Thomas Didymus likes this.
  4. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    178
    Likes Received:
    203
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    Yep! All very basic stuff. The point is that the argument you outlined:

    "... that everything is explained on in the physical sense, and the atoms that comprise our being are simply subsumed and go on to whatever is next in the food chain and the cycle of life, then his view makes perfect sense."

    Does, in fact, not make perfect sense because atheists do not hold strictly to that - they believe in being a good citizen, in upholding justice, etc. In other words, they believe in some kind of morality and it's this inconsistency that we need to point to.

    I don't know any atheists who adhere solely to the perspective you described (I know some who loudly say they do, but then change the topic to Hitler and they don't want to talk anymore).
     
  5. Anne

    Anne Active Member Anglican

    Posts:
    178
    Likes Received:
    203
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Anglo-Catholic
    Just one more thing, slightly off topic but I can't help it:)

    More correct, yes, but not the ultimate view. I have this body now and while it is the physical expression of myself what I do with it is also important to my soul - and, ultimately, it will be resurrected. Stopping short of this truth invites all kinds of gnostic problems into our day to day lives.
     
  6. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    [QUOTE="Botolph]Part of this discussion must come down to anthropology - and the anthropological questions of Psalm 8.

    If your view of anthropology is that it are but bits of matter, and that everything is explained on in the physical sense, and the atoms that comprise our being are simply subsumed and go on to whatever is next in the food chain and the cycle of life, then his view makes perfect sense.[/ QUOTE]

    Another way I have heard this mentioned online is that matter is neither created nor destroyed but transferred or transformed. It seems to not entertain any sort of expression of a spiritual realm or the existence of the soul. Jonathan Edwards makes an interesting statement in his work Religious Affections saying that whatever the human body is feeling or experiencing, physically and/or mentally, the soul of it is affected first in some capacity. I need to refer back to it to get this idea across better, which I plan to do, sharing what I find later.

    You're just as knowledgeable as you are compassionate, Botolph. :D

    P.S.
    I'm still getting used to the post format buttons. :signimnew:
     
    Last edited: Mar 10, 2021
    Botolph likes this.
  7. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    I appreciate everyone being patient with me, putting the following in my words as best as possible for easy-reading and clarity. According to Jonathan Edwards, the soul is able to think and understand for itself. It can be indifferent to experience and surroundings or view and consider things emotionally from such things in question.

    This second part is really important, Edwards reasons, because it is the character, the mind, the heart, and also known as the will [his emphasis]. Our soul and body is one being because God made us this way, he says. What this means is, whatever affects the soul also affects the body.

    Should we cry, there's good chance it's due to our body feeling something which causes us to respond in that way. Pretty interesting description of the heart [will]. Emotions come about as a result.

    The will and emotions are not separate from each other. The body strives to do what the soul wants. Basically, no emotion means no ambition for the will to interact with, which the body helps to give.

    Desire happens when soul wants something it doesn't have. the physical shape of our body affects how we feel. A body without a soul, he points out, cannot know joy, hatred, grief, happiness, sorrow, and love. Giving an analogy, he says our body would be no different from the body of a tree.

    Summing up, even though our bodies give us emotions, they are not the same. I'll be glad to talk about this more. Thanks for letting me share.

    (Edwards, Jonathan; Religious Affections: abridged and updated; Barbour Publishing; 2013; P.14-17)
    https://www.ccel.org/ccel/edwards/affections.html
     
    Last edited: Mar 13, 2021
  8. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,817
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    It seems to me that what we are on earth is a development of a spirit with a body, which are indeed, as you say, 'one being'.

    Jesus Christ intimated that we are all 'gods'. John 10:34-35. I take this to mean we are creatures with similar characteristics to Jesus Christ himself, but just a little less so. He was truly human and truly God. We are human and potentially gods by virtue only of the spirit breathed into us BY God at conception. Jesus of Nazareth both grew and developed here on earth in both spiritual and physical sense. With us, at death it is that spirit which returns to God who made it, Eccl.12:7, not the body which contained it, and it expressed itself through, on earth. Our resurrection body has about as much to do with the body (which returns to the dust from which it came), as the body of the butterfly has to do with the caterpillar and crysalis that it developed from. We are completely transformed, not just kitted out with a retread body brought back from the grave.
    .
     
    Thomas Didymus likes this.
  9. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,667
    Likes Received:
    1,844
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    I'll mention that I look at human beings as being of three parts: spirit, soul, and body.

    1Th 5:23 -- And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.

    The human spirit is recreated by God at the new birth, and that's when the spirit becomes pure in God's sight, receptive to the Holy Spirit's guidance, and fit for His indwelling. The body wants what the body wants: pleasure, comfort, etc. The mind (the intellect and emotions) is constantly challenged to choose between what the inner man (the spirit) wills and what outer man (the flesh) wills. It's a 'tug of war.'

    Rom 7:15-23 -- For that which I do I allow not: for what I would, that do I not; but what I hate, that do I. If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law that it is good. Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing: for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good I find not. For the good that I would I do not: but the evil which I would not, that I do. Now if I do that I would not, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me. I find then a law, that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God after the inward man: But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind, and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
    (I think that the Greek words which have been translated "mind" in verses 23 and 24 do not rule out the possibility that they should have been translated otherwise.)

    We are called upon to keep renewing our minds (the intellect and emotions); we can do this by praying and by washing our minds with the 'water' of God's word. This helps our minds to hear and to side more frequently with the spirit, instead of giving the body free rein.

    When we leave these mortal 'tents' behind, our spirits will supernaturally be drawn to God's light. But not all of the contents of our intellect and emotions are suitable for the eternal kingdom, so I suspect that our thoughts and memories (our soul) will be selectively retained or excluded, depending. (For example, in heaven there will be no sadness or tears, so anyone with chronic depression is sure to lose that!!)

    I've heard it this way: We are spirit, we have a soul, we live in a body. I can't say if that's perfectly correct theologically, but it kind of makes sense to me.
     
    Thomas Didymus likes this.
  10. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    Interesting info to chew on, Tiffy!

    "A spirit with no body is just as capable of love and hatred, joy or sorrow, hope or fear, or other feelings, as one that is united to a body." (Edwards, Religious Affections, P.17)

    I have read that to be a person is to have a soul, that people are souls. Being born again means receiving the Spirit, believing in Christ through regeneration (John 1:12-13) (John 3:6-7) (Acts 5:32). While physically alive [our begotten, earthly state], the body lets the soul and spirit be seen.

    Other key references:
    Exodus 4:16
    Job 21:32
    Psalm 82:6
    John 7:39

    P.S.
    How do you those shortcut links to the Bible verses with Biblegateway, Tiffy? It's really neat. I don't mean to copy you're style, I'm curious to know how you do it.
     
  11. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    This clears a lot of things up, Rexlion. I'll continue to absorb what you've said here!

    The way I understand it is, everyone has a soul and a body. Without having the Spirit, though, which comes from believing in true faith in our Christ (John 8:12) (John 14:15), is to be dead spiritually.

    Romans 8:16 states that it is the Spirit that "bears witness with our spirits that we are the children of God" (MEV).

    Other key references:
    John 3:6
    John 15:1-11
     
    Rexlion likes this.
  12. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,817
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    (1) Add another tab in your browser. (2) Visit https://www.biblegateway.com/verse/en
    and enter the verse reference (3) Copy the URL at the top of the browser window. (4) return to the browser tab you are answering the thread post in. (5) Highlight the bible reference in your reply. (6) Hit the 'Link' icon and paste the URL you copied into the link window and hit 'insert'. Your highlighted Bible reference should now be an actionable link to www.biblegateway.com.

    You can select which translation you want to use within www.biblegateway.com

    Hope this helps. :) :thumbsup:
    .
     
  13. Thomas Didymus

    Thomas Didymus Member

    Posts:
    64
    Likes Received:
    37
    Country:
    United States
    Religion:
    Christian
    Much obliged. :handshake:
    May we never stop learning something new everyday.
     
  14. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,817
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE
    Prov.1:5, Prov.9:9.
    .
     
  15. Rexlion

    Rexlion Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    3,667
    Likes Received:
    1,844
    Country:
    USA
    Religion:
    Christian attending ACNA
    Tiffy likes this.
  16. Tiffy

    Tiffy Well-Known Member

    Posts:
    2,817
    Likes Received:
    1,290
    Country:
    UK
    Religion:
    CofE