My first discussion about God with an atheist took place in 1971. I was a precocious eleven-year-old, and the atheist, a thirty-ish housewife who lived across the street, happened to be driving my sister and me somewhere as a favor to my mom. Sometime during that otherwise innocuous conversation, I mentioned God.
“God?” She gave a snort. “You believe in God, huh?”
“Yes . . .” I said timidly, confused by the sharp note of derision that so suddenly had entered her voice.
“Well, there’s no such thing as God,” she snapped. “He doesn’t exist, and people who believe in God believe in a myth.”
My heart started pounding. As a rather sheltered Catholic kid, I had never heard anything like that before. But being a plucky lad, seeing the irritation on her face in the rearview mirror goaded me to push back. And that’s when I discovered I had nothing to push back with.
Atheist Lady sliced and diced my clumsy attempts to defend my childlike belief in God — a belief which, to her, was childish. I couldn’t answer her arguments, so I sat in embarrassed silence for the rest of the ride. Thus ended my earliest foray into the world of atheism.
Perhaps because I was so thoroughly routed, that encounter made an impression on me.
In the nearly forty years since that day, I’ve discovered the fatal flaws of atheism. Ah, if only I could go back in time! Knowing what I know now, were I to have another conversation with Atheist Lady, I believe things would play out rather differently.
At one time or another, most Catholics will be hassled by an atheist over their belief in God, even if only indirectly. not everyone knows an atheist personally, but we all inhabit a society overrun with atheist proselytism. Anti-God propaganda forces its way into the public consciousness via the Internet, movies, billboards, and a recent avalanche of bellicose books, such as Christopher Hitchens’ God Is Not Great and Richard dawkins’ The God Delusion.
This is a serious problem, to be sure — but one susceptible to a particular, highly effective solution, which we present in this book.
It has been an honor for me to co-author The Godless Delusion with my friend Kenneth Hensley. This collaboration is the result of our combined years of learning (often acquired in the School of Hard Knocks) and practical experience in dealing with atheists. We have pondered both the philosophical and cosmological reasons for believing in God, as well as the various atheist arguments against God. We’ve also studied atheists themselves — observing what they say and how they act.
The more we studied and discussed and observed atheism and atheists, the more convinced Kenneth and I became that the most effective way to debunk their arguments against God is through a thoroughgoing appeal to reason. True, our faith in God is vitally important to us as Catholics, but such faith does not impress atheists, who pride themselves as seeking truth solely on the basis of evidence, not “faith.” Fair enough.
We believe in God not as a mere theoretical concept or because believing provides a comforting alternative to the bleak meaninglessness of atheism. Rather, we contend, there are solid, compelling reasons for believing, including our central premise of this book: that atheism, which is the sole alternative to the existence of God (i.e., he either exists or he doesn’t), is itself utterly, irretrievably unreasonable.
“God?” Atheists ask. “You believe in God?”
Yes. We do.
Turn the page and we’ll show you why. We’ll demonstrate that only God’s existence can provide a rational account for reality as we know it and, therefore, why the atheist alternative is just a delusion.— Patrick Madrid