Here’s a few concepts and/or arguments that might impress an atheist in your life.
#1
Seems that many people are atheists simply because they find the arguments of present-day atheists (e.g. Dawkins, Hitchens, etc.) to be convincing. Sometimes, Christians will use arguments like “are you mad at God?”, and, while that’s likely true in many cases, it doesn’t do much to satisfy any intellectual desire for knowledge.When it comes to the philosophical arguments, you’ll almost always hear (or be part of) the classic “well who caused the Big Bang” & “well who/what caused God?”. The atheist will usually then conclude that the argument is then dealt with, and that the universe simply had no cause, or an unknowable cause. But this conception misses the point, and doesn’t really address the Thomistic arguments properly. 

So, the more impressive argument: 

-First, don’t look at the causal series as some sort of time-focusd, linear regression backward to “what caused what?”
-Next, properly address the causal series as they exist here and now.
-Now, for this post, let’s use you as an example, and the causal series of events taking place, again,  right here and now as you read this post.
-Your eyes see the letters and shapes of the letters, relaying the information to the brain and intellect, simultaneous with neural activity and other biological processes all happening simultaneously.
-Further, you body is able to do these things given the conditions and physical laws that exist around you, e.g. gravity, atmospheric pressure, oxygen intake, electromagnetism, etc.
-Rather quickly we go beyond yourself to the other physical laws that exist to make any of your reading even possible. We can say that these conditions “actualize” your ability to read this post.
-Other things, like planets and stars, etc., are also actualized into doing the things they do (obvious example: planets orbiting stars) by the physical laws that they are also subject to.
-Again, reminder: all these things are occurring now; you reading to the planets orbiting, etc. This is all happening now.
-Now, the activity of the planets, the stars, animals, insects, and human beings are conditioned upon the existence of other things.
-Again, you reading this is conditioned upon you having eyes and a working brain that simultaneously interact with the physical world around it. 
-But: does everything obtain its power to do something from something else?
-When talking about a “causal series”, we’re obviously talking about things that exist.
-So, again: you, the atmosphere, gravity, time & space, electromagnetism, etc., these things all exist here and now as a causal series in the present (not like a series of causes extending backward in time to the first cause, like in a series of dominoes). 
-But, which of these causes simply exists? That is, it receives no actualizing power from anything else?

-For the atheist, they’d likely conclude that the universe simply is, as, to them, the universe didn’t need a cause (or, that it’s unknowable, etc.). 
-But, again, the focus isn’t on what caused the universe.
-The question is from where does this thing that exists (i.e. the universe) obtain its power to do anything at all? 
-Does it “sustain itself” somehow? How could this be? The universe is composed of matter that interacts with physical “laws”. From where do these physical laws obtain their power to make things happen (viz. to actualize) material objects? Is it “just the way things are”?
-If that’s the case: why?

-What this all inevitably points to is this certain conclusion: there has to be something that exists that simply is.
-Is it the universe that has this quality? 
-Well, how could that be exactly? The universe had a beginning. So, clearly, the universe doesn’t simply “exist on its own”, as it obtained its ability to exist conditioned upon something having happened (e.g. The Big Bang theory). 

-To be more concise: existence is obviously a real thing.
-You owe your existence to the procreative act of your parents. 
-Your being born was conditioned upon the existence of your parents.
-However, is it human nature to “exist”?
-Well, no. 
-Billons of us have and (and do) exist materially, for a time, and then our human bodies pass away.
-Countless other things come into existence, and then exist no more.
-Before you were procreated by your parents, you potentially existed. 
-After conception, you actually existed.
-The same for each of your parents, their parents, and so on. 
-So, you obtained your act of existing from something else.
-Is it possible that all things in existence obtained their ability to exist from something else? No.
-Likewise, it would also be impossible for there ever to truly have been nothing in existence, as “nothing” is by definition infinite.

-So what right now exists that obtains no actualizing of any kind?
-It is the One, unique Being Whose nature is to exist.
-It is One Being that does not obtain any “actualizing” by anything else.
-In fact, there is no “potential” at all in this One Being. 
-This Being is God.

-We know this from the natural light of reason.
-We know it more intimately by Divine Revelation (“I AM WHO AM” Exodus 3:14).

God bless you.
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#2
Thanks.
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#3
Or read St. Anselm and other Catholic philosophers.
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#4
(11-03-2021, 04:35 PM)AnaCarolina1 Wrote: Or read St. Anselm and other Catholic philosophers.
And I remember that another Catholic Saint comparwd the design of the world would be equal to a bunch of monkeys putting together an airplane
With engine.  Lol.
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#5
Very good post, FultonFan.  I first read an argument along these lines some years back, by Edward Feser.  I'm not an expert but this seems to be, more or less, one of St. Thomas Aquinas's ways of proving that God exists.  And it is very effective.  I've yet to see an atheist who, in actually understanding the argument (they frequently create a straw man version), can effectively refute it.  In my experience, when they do realize the effectiveness of the proof, they usually respond with, "well, that's not the Christian God, 'cause I'm darn sure you guys imagine a Sky Fairy that loves you and blah, blah, blah."

Another strength of this kind of cosmological argument is that it works even if the Universe is past-eternal.  We know, as Catholics, that this is not so, but the atheist cannot hide behind their typical position of "well, the Universe always existed and science will one day prove it."  That's nice, but even if it did, there's still a God who sustains the Universe in being, creating it at every moment in time.
"For the true friends of the people are neither revolutionaries nor innovators, but traditionalists."
- Pope St. Pius X

"For there shall be a time, when they will not endure sound doctrine; but, according to their own desires, they will heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears: And will indeed turn away their hearing from the truth, but will be turned unto fables."
- 2 Timothy 4:3-4

"Therefore God shall send them the operation of error, to believe lying: That all may be judged who have not believed the truth, but have consented to iniquity."
- 2 Thessalonians 2:11-12
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#6
(11-03-2021, 04:35 PM)AnaCarolina1 Wrote: Or read St. Anselm and other Catholic philosophers.
And I remember that another Catholic Saint comparwd the design of the world would be equal to a bunch of monkeys putting together an airplane
With engine.  Lol.
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#7
(11-03-2021, 04:46 PM)SeekerofChrist Wrote: Very good post, FultonFan.  I first read an argument along these lines some years back, by Edward Feser.  I'm not an expert but this seems to be, more or less, one of St. Thomas Aquinas's ways of proving that God exists.  And it is very effective.  I've yet to see an atheist who, in actually understanding the argument (they frequently create a straw man version), can effectively refute it.  In my experience, when they do realize the effectiveness of the proof, they usually respond with, "well, that's not the Christian God, 'cause I'm darn sure you guys imagine a Sky Fairy that loves you and blah, blah, blah."

Another strength of this kind of cosmological argument is that it works even if the Universe is past-eternal.  We know, as Catholics, that this is not so, but the atheist cannot hide behind their typical position of "well, the Universe always existed and science will one day prove it."  That's nice, but even if it did, there's still a God who sustains the Universe in being, creating it at every moment in time.
Actually, these things I’ve posted are almost entirely things I’ve read or heard Dr. Feser discuss. Dr. Feser is a very good man.
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