I am an atheist. I don't believe in God
An atheist is defined primarily in two senses: Someone who says he believes there is no God, and someone who simply lacks belief in God. An atheist cannot rationally say he knows there is no God, because he would have to know all things in order to know if there is or isn't a God. If he says he believes there is no God, ask him why he believes that way, and begin there. If he says he lacks belief in God, then ask what he does believe in, and start there. You can always get around to the question of, "How did we get here?" Since creation and evolution are the only options, here is something further to work with.
An agnostic says he doesn't know if there is or isn't a God. (Usually after saying this you can challenge them to explain the prophecies of the Old Testament fulfilled in the New. You can state how the Bible is unique that way, and that only God can make prophecies that are 100% accurate. Then ask him to explain how that could be done if there is no God.)
If there is no God as you say, then in the end I lose nothing. But if there is a God, in the end you lose everything.
Why don't you believe in God? Is there any reason for you to intelligently reject His existence? Or, do you simply desire not to believe in Him?
The Bible doesn't attempt to prove that God exists. It simply speaks as though He does. Maybe I can't prove to you there is a God, but I can introduce Him to you through His Son Jesus Christ, and you can judge for yourself if the Words of Christ in the Bible convince you of His existence.
Jesus is only one of many great men of history
Granted, Jesus was a great man of history. That is a fact. But, He is different from all the other great men of history. How many great men of history rose from the dead, calmed a sea, walked on water, raised others from the dead, healed sickness, and forgave sins? There aren't any others that I know of. Do you know of any? These things make Him more than great. They make Him special and unique.
You are right, Jesus was a great man. But let me ask you. If He were great, would He lie? Of course not. If He were great, would He be insane? No. You see, Jesus said He was God (John 1:1
; Col. 2:9
; Phil. 2:5-8
; Heb. 1:8
). If He were lying, we shouldn't listen to Him, and we couldn't call Him great. If He were insane, then we shouldn't listen to Him, and again, we couldn't call Him great. If He is great, then He must be telling the truth. And He was great, right?John 1:1
says, "In the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the Word was God."
Verse 14 says, "and the Word became flesh..."
The Word is Jesus. This means that Jesus is God in flesh. If this is so, then He cannot be merely "a great man of history." He would be far more than that.
The Bible was written to look like Jesus fulfilled prophecy
Then what you are saying is that the New Testament writers lied about Jesus. He really didn't rise from the dead, and all those miracles about Him are really false, right?
I could see your point, but there is just one problem. How do you account for the writers of the New Testament teaching about truth, love, honesty, giving, etc. all based on lies? Why would they suffer hardships like beatings, starvation, shipwreck, imprisonments, and finally execution for nothing but lies? What you are saying doesn't make sense, and raises more questions than it answers.
The only logical explanation is that the fulfilled prophecies really did happen. Jesus actually rose from the dead. He performed miracles, and He forgave sins. He forgave sins then, and He can still do it now. My sins are forgiven, are yours?
Please note that many cult members will die for their faith as well. But they die for something they believe in, not for something they have actually seen. Muslims, Mormons, Jehovah's Witnesses all die for their faith. But the New Testament believers died for what they saw and believed, not for what they believed only. That is a big difference. The N.T. writers died claiming that they had seen the risen Lord. The cult members die for what they believe, and we know that believing doesn't make it true.
The Bible is full of contradictions
Really. Do you know of any? Could you quote me one or two?
(Just in case someone actually does quote what he thinks is a contradiction, it is up to you to give a competent answer (1 Peter. 3:15
). If you can't, don't worry. Simply tell him that you will research it and get back with him, and make sure you do.)
There are areas of Scripture that are difficult to understand. This does not mean the Bible is untrustworthy. A very good book to have is the Encyclopedia of Bible Difficulties by Gleason Archer, Zondervan Publishing House, (Grand Rapids, Michigan).