An Athiestic Classmate

the athiestic classmate in school

i have read many of the posts on this website about this topic; however, this guy is different. i have made it clear to him from the beginning that i am doing this for his benefit and that if he is not willing to learn, i will not waste my time with him. he claims that he is willing to learn; however, from what he says and the way he does not accept anything i say, it seems that he is not willing to learn. when i first found out he was an athiest, i didn't say anything, i only started speaking up when i found out that he was talking to others about his beliefs.

the reason i think there is hope with him and that he is different from other athiests is that he comes from a catholic family. it's like he was on the train tracks but he just shifted off a bit and i feel if i don't do anything about it, he will stray off and never return. i feel he just needs a push to get back on the track.

he claims that all he needs is evidence. now there is evidence (i think) that i got from other posts on this site; however, i feel that if someone's faith is built on evidence, it's not really faith. i told him the story of Thomas and how Jesus told him "Blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed". through this story (correct me if i am wrong) i told him that if you want evidence, God can give you evidence but you will be blessed if you believe without seeing. is this ok?

he thinks that all of the Bible is just a big hoax. he thinks God is just an idea. he related the Gospel to him telling me that there is a monster in his backyard and that i can't see it because it only reveals himself to him. he is saying that i will not believe him unless he gives me evidence. now, i am lost as to whether it is ok for faith to be built on evidence. Because St. Paul's faith was kind of built on evidence and he had amazing faith.

also, he told me not to worry about him since i mentioned that i am doing this for his benefit, this clearly shows that he is not willing to learn.

how do i respond to someone like this, do i just point him to sources and leave him? or...

all your input is greatly appreciated and sorry for the long post

please pray for him and my weakness


  • The best thing is always to be gentle and loving even more than having intense discussions. You know spending time with him and having fun with him. You can also invite him to bible studies or church events and let him experience Christ love for himself through the Christian community. But most importantly always pray for him.
    Hope others will give more explanation
    In Christ
  • i agree with theophilus1  :) many people have believed on evidence and many others on faith. some people work out the philosophy, others have dreams and visions and others are drawn to Jesus by the life and kind and challenging words of Christians.
    we are like the farmer sowing the seed. we talk about our faith whenever we can and point our friends in other directions (the Bible, books etc) when we run out of things to say. it is our job just to sow the seed. God makes it grow.
    i became a Christian because of the evidence i saw of 2 changed lives (my parents were athiests before). i was very young so didn't have big arguments against faith!
    there are good books about evidence for Christianity by Josh McDowell, i have read one of them ages ago but can't remember the name. there are also similar books by catholic authors. i have had a brief look on the internet for orthodox writings on this topic but didn't come up with anything.
    so i am very glad you are telling your friend about the saving work of our Lord Jesus Christ, keep it up, pray for him and meditate on God and His love so that your life will reflect God. then be patient and let God speak to him.
  • how do i explain to him that him telling me about the monster in his backyard is different from the Gospels?
  • the_least,

    This is a tough question.

    Faith is a difficult and complex thing, but a person can be a staunch atheist and still have reverence for the Gospels.  I'm not enough of a historian to give references, but I know there to be non-biblical evidence for a man who rallied for a spriitual reformation . . . (etc.)  The simplest and most superficial reason that the Gospels are better than your classmate's immaginary friend (monster), is that they are a real account of a real person with a real message.

    The thing is, I don't think this is the right place to start.  If it is time for God to move in this person's heart, I'd hate to immagine that the seeds of his faith are based on the Bible being a 'darn good read'.  I think the things that mabsoota and Theophilus1 said are very good and relevant.  Your friend would be best served in seeing and feeling the holy Spirit at work, rather than in intellectual proof.

  • One thing that separates the Gospel from a false report is that those making the reports were willing to suffer and die for their testimony.

    If you friend said there was a monster in the garden, and then you held a knife to his throat and said, 'tell me the truth, is their a monster in the garden', then he would either be mad or telling the truth if he insisted 'I cannot lie, there is a monster in the garden'.

    Nearly all of the Apostles suffered for their faith in Christ and their testimony that he had truly risen. And there were many more witnesses.

    Church Fathers such as Polycarp and Ignatius had grown up in a community of witnesses. Indeed the Gospel is first and foremost a witness statement to the good news.

    If the Apostles and the other first generation witnesses were all making it up then why were they willing to be tortured to death? At least it must be said that THEY believed they were telling the truth. And therefore their witness statement deserves a careful look. It is impossible for it to be made up, in the sense of being a scam. And the witness statement they were willing to die for was one in which Jesus Christ is described as God, and describes himself as God.

    They heard him say these things, which is why they preferred death to denial.

    So if they at least can be shown to be witnessesing to something they believed - even if we accept it might be false - then it is not at all the same as saying there is a monster in the garden.

    But what do they witness to? A man who says he is God, and has come to save the world, and who dies and comes back to a glorious life. If the disciples are witnesses, but are perhaps conned by Jesus? Then what does it say about Jesus?

    He must surely either be mad, bad or the Son of God.

    If he was mad then why does he speak such wisdom that even non-Christian leaders such as Ghandi consider themselves his followers? If he was mad then how did he speak a greater wisdom than the world had heard or has heard? It doesn't make sense. All the other self-made messiahs lead people to destruction, they are obsessed with themselves, Jim Jones, the Children of God, the Branch Davidians. Yet the early followers of Christ were nothing like this, nor did he teach them to be. If he was mad then how was he able to heal? If he was mad then how was he so perceptive?

    And if he was bad, then what did he gain? He was not wealthy? He had 'nowhere to lay his head', when the crowds were ready to make him King he drove them away with spiritual demands that they were not willing to accept. And he preferred death himself rather than deny his own calling. These are not the actions of a bad man.

    So who was he? Certainly someone that cannot be dismissed with the idea that everything said about him is a fairy tale.

    That just doesn't make sense. Those who testified about Jesus were obviously convinced that they had seen and been with someone extraordinary. And their witness testimony is found in the Gospels. That man they were describing doesn't seem at all to be a bad man, he is not a con artist. Neither does he appear mad by any criteria we would use. He truly seems to have believed he was the Son of God.

    This cannot be equated with a rumour that there is a monster in the garden. It is nothing like it at all.

    I am reading a great book at the moment called 'Jesus and the Eyewitnesses - The Gospels as Eyewitness Testimony: Richard Bauckham'. No book answers every question, but this one relates directly to the issue of how reliable the Gospels are as statements of witnesses to what is described.

    Father Peter
  • "The LORD lives! Blessed [be] my Rock! Let God be exalted, The Rock of my salvation!" (2 Samuel 22:47)

    The Lord has heard our prayers... The Lord willed that this person and I go to the same university and today I saw him wearing a shirt for a Christian band and when I asked him, he said that he is searching for God.

    Now, I want to take this opportunity to bring him to the true Orthodox faith.

    Are there any ideas on what i should do?

  • 1 Have mercy upon me, O God,
             According to Your lovingkindness;
             According to the multitude of Your tender mercies,
             Blot out my transgressions.
    2 Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity,
             And cleanse me from my sin.
    3 For I acknowledge my transgressions,
             And my sin is always before me.
    4 Against You, You only, have I sinned,
             And done this evil in Your sight—
             That You may be found just when You speak,
             And blameless when You judge.
    5 Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity,
             And in sin my mother conceived me.
    6 Behold, You desire truth in the inward parts,
             And in the hidden part You will make me to know wisdom.
    7 Purge me with hyssop, and I shall be clean;
             Wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow.
    8 Make me hear joy and gladness,
             That the bones You have broken may rejoice.
    9 Hide Your face from my sins,
             And blot out all my iniquities.
    10 Create in me a clean heart, O God,
             And renew a steadfast spirit within me.
    11 Do not cast me away from Your presence,
             And do not take Your Holy Spirit from me.
    12 Restore to me the joy of Your salvation,
             And uphold me by Your generous Spirit.
    13 Then I will teach transgressors Your ways,
             And sinners shall be converted to You.

  • in my opinion, unless he's a philosopher, you should start by explaining the basics to him.
    you can use any situation, for example a discussion about being grateful, to discuss how grateful you are to God. invite him to your church. give him a brief explanation about what different parts of the mass mean and then step back and let God talk to him. the orthodox mass is very rich in symbolism and in itself explains God's plan of salvation, so you don't need at this stage to discuss chalcedon, the filoque etc, don't bother with history unless he's interested.
    in my experience, it is the love of God among the people, the good Bible study and the rich symbolism of the church that attracts people to orthodoxy, not the arguments about why it's better than other types of Christianity. when answering his questions, focus on explaining how God can change his life and don't worry too much if he checks out other churches as well.
  • Here is something that might help:

    It is a debate between an atheist communist and Elder Epiphanios Theodoropoulos who was a Greek Elder. The Elder also points out the same thing that Fr. Peter said about how the Apostles died for Christ. Why in the world would they all give their lives for a lie? If Christ didn't rise from the dead, why were the Apostles willing to be crucified, beheaded, burned, and face other tortures? If it was all a lie and Christ really didn't rise from the dead then they wouldn't have died for Him since that would have been foolish. The Apostles witnessed Christ crucified, buried, and risen from the dead and then they saw Him ascend to Heaven. If all that didn't happen, He would have been forgotton and the Apostles would have returned to their old way of life as fisherman but instead they went and preached about the risen Christ to all the nations.
  • I think the two greatest threats to Christianity are atheism & divisions in the church.

    Tell this person that if he were to add up all of the evidence for Christianity, he will see that it is the truth. He needs to check out all of the prophecies about Christ in the Old T., the actions of the apostles, the history that was only in the Bible & than later discovered, how Christianity spread even against powerful odds (Jews & Romans), the Dead Sea Scrolls, the thousands of copies for the New T., & many other forms of proofs!!!

    If God did not exist, than where did this universe come from??? Surly it did not just pop out of nothing!! That is the first hard part, proving that a God exists. Next is proving that the Christian God exists; which is much harder.

    There is much to write & debate, but keep in mind that we cannot have 100% scientific proof that Christianity is right. This is because God said that those who seek Him must believe that He exists, & that He rewards those who look for Him. We know from the Bible that God demands that we live by faith. "It is impossible to please God without faith". Need I underline the word impossible???

    Atheists need to see God in person to believe, & that will never happen! That only means that they do not want God enough, and that they are happy with their sinful lives with no authority for them to answer to. If they are really looking for Him, they would easily recognize that this whole universe with its complexity would have been impossible without our eternal, almighty God!

    Check out this really good website:

    You can sign up and listen to & read some really good articles & arguments for Christianity.

    The important thing is to study things in DETAIL. A brief look at some ideas will not be enough to make a good argument for Christianity.

    Christ bless...
  • The scriptures were written over a 4,000 year period and fit together perfectly. A monster in the back yard comes from his mouth and nothing else. There is no scriptures and no other witnesses. While looking outside the Gospels we have Josephus a Jew who twice mentions Christ, Tacitus a pagan Roman historian, Pliny the younger and several others. All of which hated Christ and Christians, and yet never wrote anything about Christ being a liar, trickster, or deciever when they could have easily discredited Him. You can also question him about his belief, as it is a belief according to Richard Dawkins the foremost atheist of our times (pg 35 The God Delusion). Ask him to explain life, from the beginning. Using okkhams razor you come to the logical conclusion that God created it all makes much more sense. Science has no evidence for the beginning and the vast majority of their theory laughable assumptions and biased interpretation of evidence found, say like bones in the dirt. I would question him, especially on the big bang stuff to show him just how silly his belief is. Also, Marx was an atheist who created an ideology that sought for a utopian atheist society in which everyone was equal, called communism. It is responsible for 150 million deaths. Just in case he pulls the, "religion causes all the wars" card.
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