Honest Christians, Answer This Question!

I'd like for you to be honest with your faith here. No delusional sidesteps, okay? Answer a question having to do with what came first, your faith or your understanding. As we know, Anselm argued that "faith seeks understanding." That's the same stance other believers view their own religions. First they believe, then they seek to justify it by understanding it. Did you reasonably examine your faith before you adopted it? Or, did you try to justify it post hoc, after believing it?

My claim is that justifying something post hoc is an unreasonable way to examine a religion. It's something the Outsider Test for Faith finds to be an inconsistent double standard. For we know from cognitive studies that the strong human propensity is to unreasonably justify what we believe after the fact. We do this in order to resolve the cognitive dissonance in our heads (that uncomfortable feeling we have from for holding two contrary propositions at the same time).

Here's how cognitive dissonance works. You made a public stance in a confession for Jesus. Then you come across disconfirming evidence. What do you do? You already stated publicly you believed. So you must make a choice, either recant and be embarrassed for making a rash commitment, or find some way to escape the force of that disconfirming evidence. Sometimes that escape hole is so small only an ant could crawl through it, but when it comes to faith that'll do just fine.

In any case, this question has two aspects to it. The first aspect is chronological, the second one is logical.

1) Chronologically, which came first? Did you believe in the historical evidence for the resurrection before considering the evidence for your particular God's existence? Or, did you first believe in a deist creator god and then study the various theistic revelations to decide which one of them had the most evidence for it? If you start with a God other than the Christian one you probably would not believe Jesus bodily arose from the dead from the paltry evidence. Furthermore, was your religious experience prior to examining your religious choice? Did you come to the conclusion that your faith was properly basic, that the basis for your faith was in the self-justifying inner witness of the Holy Spirit, that your religious experience was veridical, before or after trying to justify it?

2) Logically, as you seek to evangelize others, what do you think works the best to bring about a conversion? Some evangelists think that all you need to do is preach the evangel, the kerygma, the gospel story. Barth and Bultmann argued for this in their own ways, and most street evangelists do it. Just present the four gospel "facts":
* God loves me
* I have sinned
* Jesus died for me
* I need to decide to live for God
What evidence is presented apart from quoting the Bible? The only evidence that resonates with us is that we all feel guilty. So? The solution is presented as fact, leaving out any discussion about how Jesus is a God-man, how his death atones for our sins, and how we can know he arose bodily from the dead in the ancient superstitious past.

The fact is that in a largely Christian culture the psychological pull of the story does all of the work. In a different religious culture the pull of their own stories do all of the work.

My claims are therefore twofold: 1) Chronologically, nothing but examining your religious faith before you adopted it has much force given the strong human propensity to unreasonably justify what we believe after the fact, and 2) The psychological pull of a religious story is not a good reason to adopt one's faith.


So Christian, be honest here, at least with yourselves, and do the thing you failed to do from the beginning. Look at your faith as a non-believer would, as if you were not raised in a Christian culture. Take the Outsider Test for Faith where you examine your own faith as an adult this time, by doing what you have done with all other cultural religions. Force your own faith to have the burden of proof. Treat it with the skepticism of an outsider. See what you get. It's the only honest way to know.