In the Name of God, the Most Gracious; The Most Merciful.
Alhamdulilah – All praise is due to Allah subhanahu wa ta’ala, the One to whom we turn to for hikma (wisdom), hidaya (guidance) and rahma (mercy).
The following, insha’Allah, will be a discussion regarding speaking with an Atheist. Let us begin with setting some terms. Atheism is generally understood to be the belief that no God exists, or it can be defined as a rejection of theism. Some atheists ascribe to another dogma, such as humanism, naturalism, or other secular ideologies. These ideologies will not be discussed here, but may be at a later date if readers feel it beneficial. Although Atheists reject theism, they do have certain beliefs and there are social/moral ramifications of their ideology. These ideas will be discussed in brief.
In my experience in speaking with Atheists, I have found that the average Atheist has not pondered deeply regarding the beliefs of Atheists and Atheism. Instead, they see Atheism as a way of rejecting the so-called strict dogmas of religion. I have found that when Atheistic beliefs are developed, the atheist denies them (again, I won’t deal with Humanism and others in this article). Our beloved Prophet (peace and blessing be upon him) delivered the message of Islam in unique ways depending upon the person and audience; let us remember that these are simply suggestions and each context and/or situation needs to be taken into account.
When you ask an Atheist if they believe in an innate moral code, they will say no. Often the Atheist will say that moral codes are human-created rules that control and regulate society. For example, they will say that stealing is wrong because society can’t function if everyone steals. However, when this position is developed it does not offer a complete system of thought. Let us take the example of children who are born with disabilities. From a social perspective children with disabilities require additional time and support, and in some cases are not able to function independently. From a Darwinian perspective these children do not have a positive impact on the gene pool for the human species. When an Atheist is asked why such children are cared for in society, they may not know (or may fall onto the human-created moral codes of Humanism). The Atheist will reject the idea that such children should not be granted life – but, they are not sure why. From a strict Atheistic position, the child with disabilities is a drain on society and may have a negative impact on the gene pool, thus putting their life into jeopardy. This poses a problem because if the world was created by chance then where do morals and morality come from, in particular these cases which go against the general trend of Atheistic thought. This is just one example and many others exist, such as the reason and/or purpose of life (on an individual level), which will call into question the ideology of Atheism.
If the discussion reaches this point, both parties might realize that the ideology has not been fully developed in the mind of the Atheist, and the Atheist may have even negated the position. Sometimes just leaving such questions is appropriate; allowing the person to think and reconsider their position. At other times it may be better to ask additional questions.
And, Allah knows best.