A lost cause?

Hi friends,

In a desire to better understand (some) atheists, and their perspective on life, sometimes I read through posts in the r/atheism community on Reddit.

Today this post caught my attention:

The Christian belief system is now so pervasive that I’ve found debating Christians to be an entirely useless endeavor. It’s not that skeptic’s talking points are bad. They’re logically sound and even correct but Christians just don’t care and will go on believing regardless of how good your arguments are. The ideology runs too deep to be countered with mere words alone. Christians cannot be bargained out of their belief system because they view Atheism as a moral threat synonymous with their conception of evil itself. I’ll never debate another Christian about the existence of God again because I have better, more constructive things to occupy my limited time on this Earth with and I suspect the same can be said for the rest of you as well so I’m not going to even waste my time on the issue anymore.

First and foremost, I respect this person’s experience. It sounds like they wanted to help their Christian friends find liberation and truth, received some lame answers to their questions, dismissive replies to their arguments, and finally decided to give up on the effort.

This makes me sad. I wish their experience had been one of profound respect, genuine listening, deepening empathy, and thoughtful engagement with their questions and arguments.

Instead, they don’t ever want to talk with a Christian about the existence of God again.

Understandable. And sad.

A few questions:

First, do you view atheism as a moral threat, synonymous with evil itself?

I try to take a step back from this. For me, the question is, “What is true?” That’s what I want to search for with my friends. If there is going to be a genuine exchange of ideas, then we have to search our hearts and see if we want to seek the truth together.

The effort to persuade my friends to think what I think isn’t very interesting. It can easily devolve into manipulation.

Second, what are the main ways that you have seen friends lose their interest in talking about Christianity? What is frustrating them and driving them away from the conversation?

As we share our insights, perhaps we can see our blind spots more clearly and move away from these poor practices.


This reply might get me the boot, but I feel the same way towards atheists, not that I don’t care for where or how they spend eternity but that it is not worth the effort and time to engage someone intellectually who will not be open to the possibility of changing their mind. And as @Carson said:

a term that we associate with an abusive culture.

This impasse is not exclusive to the God/no-god debate; it exists in the political arena and the church (old earth, new earth), for example.
These are strange times.


Hi Jimmy,

I think that’s a good ground rule. If we aren’t open to adjusting what we think is true - and/or we sense the other person isn’t either - then it seems wise to choose another topic for discussion.

I think a related principle is that if there isn’t sufficient trust in the relationship for the conversation, then again, we would first ask, “How can I build trust in this relationship?” so that we can explore topics like whether or not God revealed himself in the Incarnation.

Another way I look at the insight of your post is, these aren’t frustrations unique to atheists or Buddhists or Christians - these are frustrations common to the human experience. We’re all alike in wanting to have genuine relationships that enable all participants to flourish.


I wonder if the “lost cause” here is that this person (it seems) is entering into conversations in order to convince (i.e. with the sole purpose of convincing) another to change. That is, the relationship is predicated on winning an intellectual argument. Well, good luck with that!

But, as you both mention, it goes both ways…as well as every which way! These types are conversations are about foundations…pillars upon which one builds and from which flows our interactions in life. These foundations are often well-defended (psychologically, intellectually, emotionally, etc.), so resistance is to be expected. And without genuine love for the other, the conversations will either go nowhere or will devolve into manipulative/controlling territory.

Perhaps. But it could also be a myriad of other things. If this is this person’s interpretation of what’s happening, then it’s more likely that they themselves are wanting to change Christians because they view Christianity/religion as a threat. (Sidebar: Can anyone be “bargained” out of their belief system? If so, what does that say about their belief system??)

Exactly. People can perceive when you don’t really care about them…when you have an agenda for them…or when they’re your project. This was always the danger I perceived in engaging in larger evangelistic projects – because it was very easy to treat those you engage with as projects rather than subjects! Not that we don’t engage in evangelism, we just need to do so reflexively.