I recently came across an op-ed that the Christian Post published a couple months ago. Today's post is a response to that op-ed.
In "How to Convince an Atheist that God Exists," John Ellis, a former atheist, describes his journey to becoming a Christian.
I cringed multiple times while reading it.
Ellis tells us that he was raised a Christian, the son of a preacher. Like a Tarantino movie, his article is told from a non-linear perspective. First, he reveals an episode where he visited a fortune teller to appease his "ex who was Wiccan."
Ellis writes that he "knew how the 'con' of fortune telling worked," but then he tells us how he completely fell for it.
"Anybody with half a brain could've realized I was in the arts in some shape or form by how I presented myself. Except, as she continued, moving past the expected 'well, duh' observational based predictions, the fortune teller began to reveal very specific information about my past and present," Ellis writes.
Uh, clearly you did not know how the con worked then, since you apparently have no idea what cold reading is, and how "psychics" use it to fool people.
After telling us about his super-accurate-and-totally-not-a-con fortune teller experience, Ellis tells us that, "The most valuable words of wisdom I can offer those concerned with the eternal state of an atheist is to be faithful in lovingly sharing the gospel and to pray and then pray some more."
That pretty much sums up how he thinks you can "convince an atheist God exists." Seriously.
Ellis then jumps to a few months before his visit with the fortune teller. He decided he needed to take "a Jack Kerouac inspired trip, a la On the Road."
Someone should maybe tell Ellis that Jack Kerouac was discharged from the military with a diagnosis of "schizoid personality." Kerouac also drank himself to death at the age of 47.
Anyway, it was on his trip that Ellis tells us he sat at the bar in a restaurant in Denver, Colorado to get something to eat. A man at the bar struck up a conversation with him and at one point Ellis revealed to him that he was an atheist.
The man left the restaurant before Ellis and when Ellis left the restaurant, the man was waiting for him outside. The man walked with him for a bit before saying, "I wanted to tell you that God loves you."
As the man walked away, Ellis writes that he was "stunned" and "stood there with tears" streaming down his face.
He then writes that he had originally become an atheist because he had weighed the evidence and believed it was the truth, but then he tells us that someone saying to him that "God loves you" was the beginning of the Holy Spirit revealing God's work in his heart.
"So, yeah, to those who wonder what it was that caused me to turn my back on atheism, it wasn't one thing. It was, first and foremost, the work of the Holy Spirit. It was the love of my parents who cared enough about me to share the gospel with me and pray for me without ceasing. It was the small word of a stranger in Denver."
This is Ellis's whole argument. This is how you convince an atheist that God exists, in Ellis's view. "Say something, anything, to your atheist friends and family members. Tell them that God loves them and that you're praying for them if that's all the time and courage you have. Share the gospel with them. Pray for them. Pray for them some more. But say something. You have no way of knowing how the Holy Spirit might use even the smallest act of love to break a sinner's heart and bring them to repentance and faith."
That is how he ends the article. That is his whole "proof" for God.
A few years ago I wrote a collection of posts that refuted the existence of God by focusing on different arguments and offering counter-apologetic arguments. The first post in that collection was on "The Argument from Religious Experience." Ellis's article is a textbook example of that.
He claims to have known how the "con" of fortune telling works, but then fell for it as soon as the fortune teller said more than a few superficial things. And then the other major turning point was the profound experience of the Holy Spirit revealing God's work in his heart. Whatever that means.
Ellis does not even have an argument here. Just pray and tell people God loves them is the proof of the existence for God? What if I was a Muslim and told him that he is going to Hell for being a Christian, and that I pray he will see the truth in the Quran and turn to Allah? Allah loves him. Or what if I was Hindu and told him that Hanuman loves him? Is Ellis going to start weeping and convert to Hinduism?
Maybe Ellis never really weighed the evidence for God's existence and only told himself he had, or maybe he was facing a tough time in his life and subconsciously he started believing in God again as a crutch to get him through it.
Whatever happened, one thing is for sure, naming his article "How to Convince an Atheist that God Exists" was a big mistake. His argument is an excellent example of the kind of weak, emotionally-driven reasoning that believers rely upon.