Here’s another explanation of the Outsider Test I have developed, which is based upon some hard sociological facts. People overwhelmingly adopt the religious faith of the culture they were raised in. Therefore, my challenge to believers everywhere is to test their faith just like they do the ones they reject, test your own faith as if you were an outsider. Investigate it with a healthy measure of skepticism. Agnosticism is the default position given the outsider test, and I further argue that agnosticism leads to atheism. For in rejecting the religion one was brought up with, many people become agnostics, and/or simply reject religion as a whole. Here's why: A believer in one specific religion has already rejected all other religions, so when he rejects the one he was brought up with he becomes an agnostic or atheist many times, like me.
Let me argue for this further:
Let me argue for this further:
You either admit the basis for the outsider test, or you don’t. If you do then you should treat your faith as if you were an outsider. Test your beliefs with a healthy measure of skepticism.
Let’s say you take the test. If you do then you ought to be an agnostic because no faith can survive that test in my opinion, although it should if there is a God who wants us to believe in his specific religion. If God exists and he doesn’t care which religion we accept, then that God might survive the outsider test, but we would end up believing in a nebulous God out there with no definable characteristics, perhaps a Deist God, the god of the philosophers. This God is far and away from any full blown Christianity or any specific religion though.
Let’s say you don’t think you should take the outsider test. At that point I can ask you why you apply a double standard here. Why do you treat your own specific faith differently than you do others? That’s a double standard. Why the double standard?
As I have said, the overwhelming reason why someone becomes an insider to a particular religious faith in the first place is because of when and where he or she was born. Start there for a minute. Do you deny this? Yes or no? Surely you cannot dispute that. The adherents of these faiths are just as intelligent as other people around the world too, and you could no more convince many of them they are wrong than they could convince many Christians. Even with the meager missionary efforts on both sides of the fence, a major factor in why people change is still because of the influence of a personal relationship with someone (a missionary?) they trust.
You might turn my own argument against me by claiming that I myself cannot think outside my own upbringing if what we believe is based to an overwhelming degree on when and where we are born, but that simply does not follow. It would only follow if I said it’s impossible to think outside one’s own upbringing, which I haven’t said.
I was once an insider to Christianity, having been brought up in a Christian culture, so I can argue that Christians should evaluate their faith as an outsider, since I have done so. You say that if I can do it then anyone can, but that too does not follow. I’m not so sure I did in fact do it. There were influences in my life that led me in the direction I am now going. I don't deny this. I am saying that to do so is the exception to the rule, and that you must explain the rule. The overwhelming numbers of people who examine their religious faith, perhaps myself included, follow the influences in their lives. No one knows for sure on such matters. Even so, just because there are some exceptions to the rule does not mean anyone can do it, if it can be done at all. And it does no good whatsoever to claim that because you did escape your upbringing that therefore you are right about what you believe, including me. I might be wrong.
I might be wrong that there is no God. He might exist. But I have put together a solid argument that a full blown Christianity is false, and as a former insider to the faith I had approached it with the presumption that it was correct, trying to fit the facts into my former Christian world-view. But even by approaching the Christian faith from an insider and with an insider’s perspective with the presumption of faith, it does not hold up under intellectual scrutiny, and I ask Christians to deal with the arguments I present here on this blog and in my book. I consider them to be solid, based upon what they themselves believe. To me it’s like believing in the inspiration of Homer to believe in the Bible.
Evangelical Christians must continually argue against all other non-evangelical brands of Christianity, for if any one of these brands are correct, they are wrong. I've said elsewhere, there are so many beliefs that evangelical Christians must believe in order for their faith to be true, that the more they believe the less likely it’s true. If they are wrong on just one of the following beliefs their faith is wrong. Here are a few of them: 1) They believe the Bible is the inspired and innerrant word of God (for the most part)as a collection of books which were continually edited until the time of canonization, and canonized by those believers who chose them out of the number of potential candidates because of their beliefs at the time. [Christians must continually defend the Bible from errors if they think inerrancy is dogma (Bart Ehrman stumbled over Mark 2 in which it was said that David did something when Abithar was the high priest, but II Sam. 21:1-6 tells us Ahimelech was the High priest at the time). Gleason Archer has a 450 plus page book defending these "Bible difficulties," but if one error is found in the Bible, inerrancy falls. What are the odds of that?] 2) Christians must believe there is a God with three persons (what's the likelihood of even one eternal God-person?) who never had a beginning and will never cease to exist (even though everything we experience has a beginning and an end). 3) Christians believe God is all-powerful and good (even though he shows no signs of helping while a child slowly burns to death). 4) Christians believe God did miracles in the ancient past (but we see no evidence he does so today, which is our only sure test for whether or not they happened in the past). 5) Christians believe that God substantiated his revelation in the Bible through miracles (and yet if he chose the historical past to reveal this message he chose a poor medium to do so, since practically anything can be rationally denied in history, even if it actually occurred). 6) Christians believe God became a man (although no Christian has yet ever made logical sense of this). 7) Christians believe Jesus atoned for our sins on a cross (even though there is no rationally coherent understanding of how this supposed God-man’s death does anything to eliminate sin). 8) Christians believe Jesus arose from the dead (even though the evidence is not there and what evidence we do have is based upon the superstitious claims in the past. Would YOU believe a report that someone was raised from the dead today? Wouldn't YOU demand to see for yourself? Doubting Thomas is not you. All we have is a report about what he saw, which I think is flawed). 9) Christians believe Jesus ascended into heaven (indicating an ancient three-tired universe which is rejected by modern science). 10)Christians believe Jesus is in heaven where the believers will join him (but does that mean the 2nd person of the Trinity is forever encapsulated in the body of the man Jesus, or was this body of Jesus discarded, or are there now two separate beings in heaven, the man Jesus and also the 2nd person of the Trinity? And what about free will in heaven for the believers? If they have free will and never sin then God didn't need to create this earthly existence with its pain and suffering and hell for the "many." He could just have created us in heaven in the first place. If there is the chance of rebellion in heaven then it could happen all over again, and no one is eternally safe). 11) Christians believe Jesus said he will return again “in this generation” from the sky heaven where “every eye will see” him (notice the three tired universe again, over a flat earth. Somany failed predictions of Jesus' return have caused Christians to adopt Preterism, since they cannot make sense of such a claim which never happened. Talk about scoffers who will arise in the last days...Christians are now the scoffers!). 12) Christians believe Jesus will judge all people of all lands (and yet those outside of Christ were simply born in the wrong place and the wrong time, as I argue with the basis for the Outsider Test).
Twelve is a good superstitious number multiplying the four corners of the earth by the three vertical planes of hell, earth and heaven, so I'll stop here. [Seven is a superstitious number too, by adding them rather than multiplying them].
None of this makes rational sense. None of this has any good evidence for it. This faith is false if tested from the outside, or even from the inside as I have done. The only reason Christians believe it is because they were influenced to believe it by people they trust, by their parents, and by their culture.
The Evangelical Christian faith fails the outsider test miserably (as well as other brands).