My Conversation with an Atheist

I shared in my blog post, “The Vaccination Conversation”, that I have a master’s degree in psychology and work in a research lab. What’s particularly amazing about being a part of the scientific community is that I get to not only encounter people who are brilliant and innovative but also those who come from very different backgrounds than me.

Daily, I interact with people who are from different countries, cultures, and religions all the time, whether in the work place or while sharing research findings at a conference. I truly honor the privilege to learn from these individuals and grow from learning about their unique experience.

However, I’ve always heard that you should never discuss the topics of politics or religion in conversation, but I was chatting with another scientist and the topic of religion got brought up (I’m not even sure how the convo segued into that). 

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Somehow, I started sharing with her that I was a Christian and went to a local church in the area. Oppositely, she told me that she was an atheist and had a difficult history with the Christian church in her lifetime. 

Right now, you may be assuming this little chat went South fast. In truth, it got kinda of awkward, but our conversation surprisingly was respectful and very enlightening to me as a believer. 

There wasn’t any bashing or hateful words exchanged, just an intellectual and imitate conversation between two people who see the world very differently. It may have been more enticing to let my pride get in the way and immediately discredit and cast off someone who does not believe what I believe. But instead, I didn’t. We shared our lives with each other.

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During our discussion, she shared her grievances and hurts from the church and how these negative experiences led her to turn away from God to her own personal belief system. 

I really believe that these types of encounters are a chance to grow and perhaps learn a lesson (or three!) in some way so instead of telling her she was wrong or trying to force my religion on her- I listened.

When we parted ways, I walked away feeling a little sad but challenged. I believe God was showing me a reflection of how His followers have hurt and caused many people to turn away from Him. I felt not only personal conviction but for the whole Christian church.

Although I learned a lot from this conversation, I wanted to share three big takeaways about how Christians are showing up in the world and how others who do not share our beliefs view us.

Takeaway # 1.Christians are snobby and judgmental.

Why is it that the people who are called to be salt and light to the world (John 8:12) are instead leaving a nasty flavor in people’s mouths?

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My atheist friend described how she experienced a lot of hurt from the church. In her life, most Christians she encountered were unkind, quick to judge, and made people who weren’t “holy” feel like they didn’t matter.

This isn’t Christian-like behavior; Jesus hung out with sinners and showed his endless love to them.

To further touch on this, in Luke 18:9-14, Jesus teaches a parable about the Pharisee and the Tax Collector praying in the temple. The Pharisee exalted Himself and “thanked” God that he was not like other people- robbers, evildoers, adulterers, or even tax collectors (who were the most hated group of people in Jewish society).

But the tax collector humbled Himself before God and asked for His mercy. In verse 14, Jesus emphasizes that the tax collector, who was hated and judged by man, went home justified by God, not the religious Pharisee who thought he was better than “other sinners.”

In reality, we are all sinners saved by grace- only redeemed through the blood and sacrifice of Christ. All sin is sin before God, so you may not be committing murder or stealing, but maybe you did lie to your spouse about your recent shopping spree.

None of our hands are clean.

So takeaway number #1 Don’t think you are better than other people, because you are a Christian, you fell short of God’s glory and still. Also, you are here to be a witness of Christ not the Judge. Leave that to God.

Takeaway #2 Christians try to understand God through our human thinking.

My friend made another interesting point about Christians’ worldview: People attribute human emotions and qualities to God. Yes, we are made in the image of God, but our human emotions and ways of thinking are not always reflective of Him.

However, Jesus did experience human emotions, like grief, frustration, and anger, during his life on Earth.

In Isaiah 55:8-9, the Word says “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the Lord, As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”

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The same way I cannot understand how you navigate and process the world because I am not you, we cannot fully understand the magnitude of God. We can try to grasp concepts like the omnipresence, omniscience and omnipotence of God, but how can we really understand this when we aren’t any of those things!

Our understanding is limited by our lack of ability to see beyond our own human perspective. God created all the universe and knows all that has happened and will happen whereas we don’t even know what will happen in the next 5 minutes.

Hence, why God sent the Holy Spirit to guide us and help us understand God’s plan for us slowly as we learn to trust Him.

So, takeaway #2 Christians try to limit God by reflecting our own thinking and emotions on Him when His ways and thoughts are way bigger than we are. Trust the Holy Spirit to help guide you.

Takeaway #3 It’s not God that hurts people, it’s the Church.

If one point is the only thing you take away from reading- remember this one. What God was really trying to teach me through my conversation with my atheist friend was that God doesn’t hurt people. People hurt people.

It’s the Church, not the Savior.

God is love (1 John 4:9), and therefore, cannot be a direct contradiction of that. He is not the hatred and discrimination we see in the world, or the fear and pain we feel when we are rejected.

He is love.

The full text of 1 John 4:7-21 further demonstrates God’s love and how we are to act now that we received His love,

“Beloved, let us love one another, for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God. Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. 10 In this is love, not that we have loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the propitiation for our sins. 11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12 No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.”

We love others, because we are loved. We reflect God’s love by not judging others according their sins, but by encouraging and building them up, even if they are not like us.

You may be the only reflection of Christ a person has ever sees. Be the love of Christ, not the judgement they already receive from the world.

Takeaway #3 – Show the love and grace of Jesus instead of judgement and hatred. Be the Church that God intended.

In Conclusion

Through my compelling conversation with an atheist, God was able to teach me a few lessons, because I willing to open up my heart and mind with someone who didn’t necessarily share my same opinions or beliefs.

My first takeaway was that Christians can come off as judgmental snobs that think they are better than other people. I, too, am a sinner and have fallen short. I was reminded to never act like I am somehow better than someone who is still trying to find their way.

Second, I realized that humans often try to understand through our lens and attribute our thought processes and emotions to God. I also reflected on how the Church hurts people, not God. We are turning people off and demonstrating a negative image of the love of Jesus by discriminat being hateful to this already hurting world.

Lastly, which I have yet to share, that if we are willing to take these moments to reflect and be what God intended the Church to act like, we can do something for His glory.

My friend and I actually chatted again about our conversation. I shared with her how I was able to learn a lot through our discussion and wanted to make a blog post out of it. Ironically, she responded back with a funny story that changed her assumptions about Christians!

She told me about the evening after we talked, she had signed up for an evening workout class that unexpectedly turned out to be at a church. When she arrived, the class instructor greeted her with a sweet smile.

The instructor accompanied by other older, Christian ladies were happy she was there and eager to start the class. My friend was a little weirded out, but she decided to stay.

But when the instructor turned on the music for the workout, my friend was shocked. Big Freedia started blaring throughout the church’s gym while the instructor began to call out moves. These Christian women were shaking it to “Baby Got Back” by Sir Mix A Lot and “Child’s Play” by Drake. At the end of the class, the instructor smiled and invited the group to her other class that featured Christian music.

If God doesn’t have a sense of humor…

Between our conversation and this workout experience, I think God was planting a seed, and I am so thankful to have been a small part.

Thanks for reading!

Have you ever had a conversation that challenged your beliefs? If so, what did you learn?

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15 responses to “My Conversation with an Atheist”

  1. What an incredible opportunity to learn and show God’s love as we should! Reading that her workout was at a church gave me goosebumps. Isn’t that just like our God?

    Thanks for sharing!


    1. Right! I thought the whole workout situation was totally ironic and even humorous. He works in ways we wouldn’t even think! And thank you so much for ready! Xx Sarah


  2. I have prayed for all sorts of people of different religions,He will show you who to share with and who to let keep walking.


    1. Yes, He will! Thank you for reading Xx Sarah


  3. As a former Christian, I know that some Christians can be jerks and some aren’t. That wasn’t the reason I concluded that Christianity and all religions are nonsense. That reason is that there is no evidence for their claims, and part of that evidence is that believers don’t agree.

    Sarah, you start off with saying you “let” someone do something. That comes off as sounding condescending. You also try to claim that *everyone is a “sinner” when that is only your baseless opinion. Your bible teaches that if someone dares disagree with this god, they are evil, and that is not the case at all, just the need for a religion to establish an “us” and a “them”.

    Then you claim that you understand your god because of the “holy spirit”, but Christians who disagree with your version make that same exact claim, and none of you can show that your version is the right one or that there is even a right one.

    Per the bible, it is this god that hurts people, if we are to believe the bible’s claims. This god murders children, this god tells people to leave their families (or worse, kill them) if they don’t agree on religion, this god says that everyone who doesn’t agree with it will be slaughtered by Jesus Christ at the “end times”. This god isn’t love, it can’t even come up to the definition of love in 1 Corinthians, being envious, being jealous, being boastful (see Job), easily angered and murdering people, literally keeping a record of wrongs, failing to protect, etc.

    Of course humans *do* hurt people and they do it in their god’s name, and surprise this god does nothing. People are people and we all can love, no god needed. As for a workout at a church being a sign from your god, why doesn’t this god do something useful like healing amputees like the bible promises? There are many workouts in churches, and in gyms and in synagogues, etc. This is another reason why Christianity seems so unbeliveable when it tries to claim coincidence as something important.


    1. Hey Clubschadenfreude, I was wondering if you’d like to talk more privately about this. I can totally send you an email about everything you brought up. I’d love to chat! Xx Sarah


      1. that would be fine, but I have no problem discussing this publically so other people can share. my email is


      2. I actually had a specific question about writing and I’d love your feedback!


      3. sure, no problem at all.


      4. I’m not quite sure how you respect my beliefs when your god says I’m evil, kinda like the whole “yoked” think in the bible. Can you explain further?


  4. It’s important we see how fallen we all are, and how we can make others feel. I stress to people that it’s about Christ, not church. This doesn’t mean I’m against church or the assembling of ourselves. But that we need to actively be seeking Christ daily, praying, worshipping and reading daily. People who tend to only have a relationship with Him at church struggle. But we can have a decent walk with Christ and still struggle Christian pride runs deep and it all starts with self. We compare. We look at the sins of others because it is easier. We try to give advice, sometimes when it is not even asked. We might it about us and taking the spotlight before talking about Christ and putting the spotlight on Him.

    People struggle with church talk, at least, on my blog xD. I say make our relationship with Christ number one, and people think I’m saying not to go to church at all, or that church is not important. Did not say those things. But we need to be challenged. We need to seek Christ and to have a heart like His. So we can examine ourselves and God will reveal when we are sinning against others. We need to seek forgiveness and show love and compassion. I think that says so much to someone who has been hurt.

    I have a friend who is used to the judgemental believer. I am not ashamed of Jesus and immediately shared with her, as she would be my roommate in college, that I am a follower of Jesus. Of course, understandably, she was a little unsure and had assumptions of how I would be like.

    She didn’t expect how positive I would be about God. And the further we chatted when I did get to more serious topics, it was because she knew where I stood. There were so many things that have happened in my life that do not make sense. At some point, as I told her, it can’t be a coincidence. And story after story, she listened amazed at certain things that had happened. Like you shared, I also listened to her and her struggles.

    There were times she’s accepted me giving her pieces of scripture for encouragement and it has encouraged her.

    It’s so important and crucial we admit our flaws especially to those who are hurting. If we act like we are on a mountain top and they are in a pit, how can we lift them up?


    1. Exactly! That’s why I always try to be open and humble submitting myself to my flesh so I can reflect the love of Christ. I’ve actually be struggling a little bit in my relationships with nonbelievers and people who have faith but may not live their life in the fullness. After starting my blog, I think taking that stance and just being a Christian is off-putting to some people.

      I won’t even say anything judgemental sometimes, but they feel judged just because I’m a believer. Does that ever happen to you?

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Girl, if you could hear me slightly laughing at your question xD YES!

        What God has shown me is there are two sides. We struggle, but people struggle, too. We might have pride, but others may have pride, too. We have Jesus and we go to Him, but others may not.

        On my blog, talking about conviction is a funny thing. People defend conviction in a way it happens when they acknowledge it. But truth is, the Spirit can prick us when we don’t want it. When we are not ready, we will get defensive. We will blame others.

        People may not mean anything by what they say or had no idea of the assumptions we make from lack of tone, especially. I think with writing, often we read the way we think, not how the author/blogger intends. Which is why I think I get misunderstood a lot. People take things out of my posts I didn’t write. People struggle with things out of my posts I didn’t say. It happens.

        Like we were talking about, sometimes, it’s clarity on our part. When people misunderstand, we might take that personal and make assumptions in a way someone else didn’t mean. It’s a huge messy domino effect.

        In regards to believers, MAN, this past year I’ve been growing with a sister in Christ and because of things she was holding back damage was done. But then, when I felt justified, that led me into spiritual pride, which is also wrong. We both had to come to Christ. There was a lot of humility needed.

        What Christ showed me, at least with struggles regarding believers, if we both are looking at Christ, even through misunderstandings we can grow. It was clear to me my sister in Christ was earnestly seeking Jesus, there was just stuff in the way. I had to be humble against spiritual pride, against thinking I was a victim and purely innocent because this way of thinking destorys us on the inside. Clearly, I was not purely innocent, and I, too, had to swallow a lot of pride/anger/seeds of bitterness. It’s not fun admitting.

        There are other believers who are not so ready. I think we challenge them sometimes when we are not intending to. I’ve been lectured a lot because I’m younger. People have repeated the same things I’ve just said, as if I’m unheard. And I admit, I’ve had to work on bitterness.

        God reminds me daily that just because believers point fingers at others, and that’s not right, we are no more right to point fingers at hypocrites. It’s really hard! That’s why I want us to focus so much on Him because then we are not focused on others or ourselves.

        But it’s hard, and the we know the spirit and flesh rage war against each other. Praise Jesus, however, our Comforter overcomes!

        I think with nonbelievers, it’s slightly the same. Judgements and assumptions are made. It’s not our job to prove them wrong. Debates lead no where in my opinon. But we must be loving at all times. As you shared in the post, if we are able to hear their story, it helps, and it helps others feel like they are listened to because they are.

        Being created by a living God I think that’s why people struggle with conviction of any kind, believer or not. If people are dealing with anger and bitterness at God or believers, you better believe it will rear its head and make you a target. You are a reminder of that pain. If people do not want to give it up, then it consumes them. Simple as that, and yeah, it’s sad and hard for us to deal with. But Christ takes our burdens that other people try to bag us down with. Praise His name ❤ I hope this encourages you! I've been blogging for three now, and God continues to teach me and strengthen me so much. I learn a lot of about my weaknesses, and it's hard. But He equips the saints. He chasties those He loves. He Refines from the inside out, as He is our Potter. : )


      2. That’s so good. It’s definitely been an interesting form of ministry and call on my life in this season. People will take a lot things out of context and try to argue with me or get upset about what I’m saying. I think that’s really the enemy trying to distract me from doing what I’m called to do in this season, because we don’t wage war against flesh and blood but against a greater enemy. You’re right about perception- based on our own personal experiences we can interpret a situation differently than another person.

        Two people could look at the same painting and described the same painting differently based how their brain processes the piece and what already preconceived notions and experiences that individual has. Thank you so much for sharing all this with me. I’m 26 and sometimes, I feel like who am I to be saying all this? I’m so young or what value can I really offer other moms and women, but like you said it’s God working through and giving us His power to do the work he’s set before us. I’ve really enjoyed connecting with you today!

        Liked by 1 person

      3. I’ve been greatly blessed by our conversations as well! I meant to say this is my third year of blogging xD I started when I was 26 (turning 27 that year) and I turn 30 next week, yikes!

        Yeah, something I believe God put on my heart a while ago was if people are speaking the truth, it will be evident. If people are not speaking the truth, it will be evident. Sometimes we need to go to prayer first before responding. Sometimes we need to dive into scripture reading and worship, praise HIm before repsonding. Things will be used against us to pull us down. But when it is all about God, glory is His, and it’s just another opportunity to grow ❤ God be with you, Sarah!!!

        Liked by 1 person

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