John Loftus wrote: Vic, I am like most people. I never denied that. We human beings do not think very well or come to reasonable conclusions based on the objective facts. We're all in the same boat about this. I accept this fact, why won't you?
Yet I most emphatically did prefer Christianity to be true. You have the right to deny this, of course, but it is my claim, as it is with the claim of almost everyone I've ever heard who left the fold. Or are you wanting to claim people don't change their minds against what they prefer to be the case? It happens all the time. It's just that it doesn't happen very often without solid evidence. Evidence will change a mind against what it prefers to be true. The problem is that with the omniscience and mystery cards you believers have as an escape clause for any lack of evidence there is no single piece of evidence that can help you see that what you prefer to believe is false.
If you were to leave the fold in the future then just wait until someone comes along and tells you the reason you left the fold is because you preferred doing so. If that happens then so will the other.
But remember today. You DO prefer to believe. So also once did I.
VR: People have preferences on both sides of most issues. C. S. Lewis says he absolutely hated the idea of believing in God, or becoming a Christian, but that he came to believe because he thought the evidence for it was good.
Hence what we prefer to believe is something of a red herring in the discussion. Everyone has emotional preferences, thinking carefully about these matters is difficult, and sometimes people do change their minds because of the evidence. You have the phenomenon that I have experienced, where your desire to believe something makes you suspicious of that very belief.
But what you have to avoid doing is implying that people on the other side have emotional motives, but that no one on your own side does. That's circumstantial ad hominem, and last time I checked, it was a fallacy.
People typically want a future life, but they also don't want some Supreme Being to be able to tell them that what they are doing is wrong and they have to repent. People want to think of themselves as the supreme being, above whom there is no one. Josh McDowell says there are three reasons why people reject Christianity: Pride, ignorance (usually self-imposed), and a moral problem. I have criticized McDowell for making that kind of a generalization (and Russell for explaining religion in terms of fear of death, fear of hell, and fear that the universe should be meaningless), but you can't deny that these facts do play a role in unbelief, just as Russell's factors play a role in belief.
Your post in which you loudly protest that you don't want atheism to be true rings a tad hollow, in light of what you say in the other posts. Atheists act like they are intellectual saints, that they, and they alone, have transcended all the psychological and sociological forces pressing upon them and hold their beliefs only in response to the evidence. I would never make that kind of a claim about myself.