Today's post will be a somewhat long reply to the following quotes from "Joshua"'s ex-Christian 'testimony' here: "The Importance of Evidence". There was no contact info given with the testimony, but if Joshua wants to reply to this, he is welcome to. This is not meant as a personal attack, just a reply to some of the ideas and reasons given in his testimony for his loss of faith.

I started to seriously question my faith. How could I really know that Jesus was my savior. Where was the evidence to back up this belief? The Bible? Where was the evidence that the Bible was true? I realized that Jesus may have been a savior, or a madman, or a liar, or a figure who was mythologized by grieving followers. I have no way of knowing.

Joshua suggests that there is no way to know whether Jesus was "a savior, or a madman, or a liar, or a figure who was mythologized by grieving followers". Sounds quite a bit like C S Lewis' argument, although Lewis arrived at a different conclusion. (FWIW, the common objection to Lewis' argument, namely the idea that Jesus never claimed to be God is answered quite well elsewhere.) Now, if it were true that we had no way to know which Jesus was, savior, madman, liar, or mythologized figure (which I don't think it is, see below and the previous link) why would Joshua "truly feel sorry for religious people"? If it were impossible to know which option is correct, Joshua should not pity religious folk, since he would have no more chance of being correct than them.

As for "Where was the evidence that the Bible was true?" there are many reasons to consider, for example:

And many more. But I don't think this is the crux of Joshua's argument. Although he notes "contradictions in scripture, historical inaccuracies, OT prophecies that turned out to be wrong, violence and perversion in the Bible", likely any supposed contradiction he can find has already been explained (see my earlier "Bible Contradictions: A Real Example" for more on this topic) … and the "violence and perversion" in the Bible is not too surprising, since the Bible does not endorse everything it records (as a history of humankind we'd expect to read about some unfortunate, sinful human behavior). The real issue goes back to whether we can "know" anything about God:

Faith is believing in something you can never know to be true … When people ask me my religion I tell them I have none because I only believe what I can prove … You can't convince them [religious people] that it is not rational to expend so much time, energy and money on the unknowable …

Joshua believes that God is unknowable. Firstly, it's impossible to prove that God is unknowable, so how can Joshua believe that? Okay, as rational as that is, it seems like a philosophical shuffle. So how about this: If God exists, God is, at very least, intelligent and powerful. Much more than we are. So therefore, if God exists, He is able to tell us about Himself. If God could not, He would not be intelligent, nor powerful. This doesn't prove that Christianity is true, but only that knowing God is possible. To argue that no religion can be true because there are many different faiths is a non-sequitur, it does not logically follow. I'm not so foolish to think that there are no nice people in other religions; surely, most Buddhists, Muslims, atheists, etc that I have met are "nice people". But that doesn't prove anything about whether their beliefs are true. It's also important to note that we do not really "know" most things we claim to know in the sense of being 100% provable. Do you "know" your husband/wife/whoever loves you? Can you prove it? No? Then why believe it? Because belief in it is justified by the evidence even though it cannot be 'proved' to someone else. (For another example of why its right to believe some things we cannot prove, see my previous article "Can You Prove What You Believe?") Finally, the way we "know" things about an uncreated God must, out of necessity, be somewhat different than the ways we know about other created things. Can we study God Himself the same way we study a plant or tree? No, but these created things can serve as pointers, indicators, of the uncreated God.

With regards to teaching others "to be skeptical, to question everything", I wonder if that includes questioning atheism or agnosticism? Or just questioning religion? I was raised in a non-religious home, and never gave my secularism (is that a word?) or religion, a second thought. But when I finally investigated the evidence for myself, I was quite surprised at what I found.

As a final comment, I also consider myself an "openminded free thinker", and it was this openness that led me to faith. If I today received sufficient evidence that convinced me otherwise, I would have to give up my faith, but so far that has not happened. If someone claims to be openminded, but refuses to change their beliefs or even investigate other possibilities, they are anything but "open". Not saying that Josh necessarily is, but it's something to keep in mind.