A respected professional acquaintance also happens to be an atheist. Not of the agnostic persuasion, but of the "religious beliefs are ridiculous superstition" sort. We see eye to eye on most topics besides this one, and each of us realizes that the other is entitled to his own beliefs.
I stumped him though. Just once, but it stuck with me. You see, he is a very rational man, as was Thomas Paine. Thomas Paine was a "deist," a believer that there was a creator of the universe of some kind (which is more than I can elicit from my acquaintance), but not in God per se, and certainly not in any organized religious belief system. Paine's greatest work was Rights of Man, which was, among other things, an extremely well-reasoned attack on religion (particularly "revealed" religion: in a nutshell, though something may well be revealed to someone, anyone else to whom it is not directly revealed is merely subscribing to the revelation in a secondhand, word of mouth exercise that is entirely dependent upon the credibility of the source to which the thing was revealed; we are, in essence, believing in that source, more so than what that source alleged was revealed to him or her).
The deist movement had a great influence on some of the Founding Fathers; hence, although the United States of America was clearly founded as a nation of Christians rather than a Christian nation, it is still somewhat notable (at least to myself) that for all of the references to God in the Declaration of Independence, there is no mention of Jesus Christ. Which brings me to the point.
One simple question to my friend and to all non-believers who are firmly and patriotically rooted in the tenets of our nation's founding documents and ethos: if all men are endowed with certain unalienable rights, among them life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, who exactly endowed them with such? And if the clear and correct answer of "their Creator" is rejected by these non-believers, then it should therefore follow (in their minds, not mine) that all men are not, in fact, endowed with these rights.
That is a terrible thought, one which could tear down the entire belief and value system of America and democracies everywhere. If that is the case, if all men are not endowed by their Creator with something that makes us different from the rest of creation, then we must in fact be no different than the rest of creation, and therefore subject to the same "survival of the fittest" rules and procedures as the rest of the universe (take what you can get, enslave others, enrich yourself - in other words, the same thing that our current exercise of "Extreme Capitalism" is producing). Clearly, there is something within many of us that rejects that possibility, the possibility that we are no higher than the animals in the scheme of things. That "something" can be traced back to the Greeks of 400 BC and beyond, as well as to other cultures and eras in human history. And if that "something" is not God-given, from where does it emanate?
And if you were wondering about the spoils of that great philosophical victory over my atheist friend: nothing less than the utterance of his heartfelt "good point."