In my day to day life, I often encounter Christians who are very eager to tell me all about their god and faith, and why I should subscribe to it, too. I’m sure that it can be hard to come up with compelling, engaging strategies for talking to people who don’t share your faith, so I’ve put together this handy-dandy guide to being a lazy and annoying evangelist.
1. Tell them that Jesus has died for their sins.
Know what? Just quote John 3:16 to them, verbatim. Despite being surrounded by Christians, and often being raised by Christians, most atheists have never heard anything about Jesus dying for their sins. If you just tell them that a god they don’t believe in came and died for them, to satisfy rules it made about the punishments it made for various actions and thoughts, many of which atheists don’t think are problematic, they’ll probably just convert there on the spot.
2. Tell them they’re sinful.
In the unlikely event that just being told that a god they don’t believe in forgives them doesn’t convince someone to follow your faith, it’s probably because they think that they’re not especially sinful. You have to break them of this notion. Explain that stealing something, anything, means that they should go to hell. Likewise for lying about anything. Ever. Insist that looking at someone “with lust” is tantamount to adultery, and then inform them that adultery is also a hell-worthy offense. Go on to say that, in a similar vein, being angry is just as bad as murder, as far as your god is concerned. They definitely won’t think that this is absurd at all.
3. Stress that all morality comes from your god.
If the atheist you are talking to hasn’t broken down in penitent tears because their horniness or irritation is enough to get them damned unless they accept your god, then they might continue to say that they don’t think that anything they’ve done is really that bad. Yes, they’ve lied occasionally, yes, they might have shoplifted when they were fifteen, and yes, they get angry and/or horny sometimes. Still, they’re likely to point out that they haven’t hurt anyone, or that, if they have, they have tried to fix the damage they’ve done. Clearly, this simply will not do.
You need to stress to them that it doesn’t matter whether anyone is hurt or not. What matters is that they’ve disobeyed your god (which they don’t believe in). Obviously, your god is the source of morality, and any similarities this divine morality might have with other ethics systems is completely coincidental, or a result of everyone secretly knowing that your god is right. Insist that your morality is absolute and totally makes sense, since it’s from your god, and that their morality is completely arbitrary and useless.
4. Use Pascal’s Wager.
Much like John 3:16, Pascal’s Wager is a secret weapon that no atheist has ever thought of. Just point out that not accepting your god carries a penalty of eternal torment in the event that it turns out to be real, and that accepting your god will have no negative consequences if it isn’t real. This is completely ironclad. It’s not as though there are other god claims to consider, since it’s either Jehovah or nothing. Also, converting to your religion wouldn’t entail submission to an external authority, changes in behavior, the potential condemnation of friends and loved ones, repeated monetary contributions to a church, or anything like that. No, accepting your god is totally a no-strings-attached proposition.
5. Ask them to explain everything, if they’re so smart.
As everyone knows, your god up and created everything, all on its own. If anyone doesn’t accept this, then they must adequately explain everything ever, or else you win by default. They must explain, in detail, the origins of the universe, of the planets, of life on Earth, of biodiversity, and of your religion, to name a few things. Anything they don’t know is automatically a point for you. Anything they do have an answer for, but which isn’t detailed enough for you is also a point for you. All you need to do is state that your god made everything, and you don’t see any other possibility, as this will be sufficient. You do not need to explain the process by which your god did any of these things, or why your god doesn’t need a source, or anything like that.
6. Tell them what’s going on in their mind.
The real reason that atheists don’t believe in your god isn’t because they don’t see sufficient proof of its existence, or because they think that their lives are just fine without your god and your church, or anything like that. No, it’s probably that they hate your god. You should let them know that you’re onto them. If they insist that you’re wrong, and provide some other reason as to why they don’t follow your god, just shout them down and contend that no, really, it’s just because they hate god (you could also add that they’re in love with sin). People love being told what they’re feeling by complete strangers, so this will hopefully make them want to join your church.
7. If all else fails, tell them to read the Bible “with an open mind.”
While I know that this is a long shot, there is a chance that an atheist won’t be convinced to worship your god (which they don’t believe in) by you telling them that it forgives them for all their sins (many of which they don’t think are bad things), that things that they’re okay with totally are worthy of hell and that things are good or bad not based on their perceived harm, but just on the grounds of the dictates of your god (which, again, they don’t believe in), and about how following your god is a no-lose situation (except for all the lifestyle changes you demand that they make, and the authority and dictates you demand they submit to, and the money they’ll be expected to dish out for your church, not to mention that the scenario inexplicably assumes the potential existence of only one out of the myriad of gods they don’t believe in), and after you have insisted that your god is real by default and that all their objections are moot and that you know their thoughts and feelings better than they do, despite just meeting them.
If it should come to pass that all of your other super-convincing arguments have failed, urge them to read your holy book, the Bible, with an open mind. That’s not asking much, is it? It’s not like the Bible is a huge, dense book, and it’s certainly not as if they have anything else they’d rather do than humor you. If they drag their feet, you can always just tell them to read the gospels (again, with an open mind). If they’ve already read it, tell them to read it again, and stress that they must have an open mind. That way, if they read it and aren’t convinced that the Christian god is real, and that they must worship it in the way that your church wants, then they just didn’t actually have an open mind.