When the topic of deconversion comes up, one of the first questions that comes up is naturally, “Why?” To which I always respond, “It was a combination of things.” And I get the inevitable reply, “But what was the one big thing that convinced you Christianity was not true?”
The easiest answer, I guess, would be that in reviewing all of the arguments both for and against Christianity, I realized that it would fail to persuade a neutral jury. In fact, it would bomb tremendously.
In preparing for a trial, or a case, in order to best serve my client, I must look at ALL the arguments, and ALL the evidence that both serves and destroys my case. I do not have the luxury of only reviewing the positive points in my favor. Of simply disregarding my opponents position as being “unreasonable.” I know that some day or week I will be in front of a jury of people that don’t have a vested interest in the outcome, and are even slightly antagonistic for time being wasted from their busy lives. That in every single instance I am pushing forward my proposition, I will be facing an opponent that is equally presenting their position—the exact opposite of mine. Each minute they are waiting to pounce if I present a weak argument, or poor evidence. They will capitalize on such a mistake and implement a response to their best advantage.
Imagine a client tells me that they sent a letter. A letter that helps my position. It would be easy to assume my client is telling the truth, and perform no further research. One only has to be burned by THAT assumption once to realize how foolish that is. So I research the facts surrounding this letter. When was it sent? What was the reaction of the person receiving it? What was the reaction of the person sending it? Was it ever referred to again? Were there instances it should have been referred to and wasn’t? By whom? Is it the type of letter that generates a response?
I may come to realize that the letter was never referred to again by either party, that it should been by both parties, and that for all intents and purposes it looks as if it was made up after the fact. I realize that presenting that letter would hurt my case, not help it.
Recently I had a case where my client had saved a damning voice mail for over 4 years. We played it for the witness at the trial, and asked if that is what he said. He admitted it (having no choice) but claimed the nuances were incorrect, and that he actually meant it for only a very limited situation. Not as broad as we were proposing.
Unfortunately for him, he forget that after the voice mail, he had sent a letter that indicated it WAS for the broad purpose, and not the limited nature he had just testified to. He appeared to be a liar in front of the jury. Further, the two parties acted, after the voice mail, as if it was for the broad purpose, and not the limited one.
That is what I am talking about. One has to look at all the evidence, and review what the jury would buy. A simple axiom we use: “Don’t sell what you wouldn’t buy.” Don’t try and convince a jury that the piano is worth $1 Million dollars, when it was testified that the person left it an abandoned barn for three years. No one will buy that these are actions a person would do with a $1 Million dollar piano.
In my initial interactions with atheist, I realized to my complete surprise and chagrin, that I had never subjected the most important element in my life—my Christianity—to this method. I had never reviewed the reasonableness of the non-theist arguments from the proposition of whether Christianity was “sellable” to a non-theistic audience. And what those arguments were in response.
In my mind I see a huge courtroom. We have a jury of 12 people that are neutral. No predisposition toward any particular brand of theism or non-theism. They don’t know the word “God” or who Jesus or Buddha, or Mohammed, or Joseph Smith or Mary Baker Eddy or Confucius are. They do not know the concepts of atonement, propitiation, justice, mercy, incarnation, or sanctification. They have never read the Bible, the Tanakh, the Qur’an, The Book of Mormon, or any other Holy writings.
And we line up the 100,000 (really quite a bit more, but keeping it at that number) various brands of theism. Each brand gets its chance to present its proofs. And each brand is then cross-examined by 99,998 other theists that do not believe in their god, who all attempt to show that this particular god doesn’t exist. I don’t have to do a thing. Not lift a finger. All the other theists are doing all the work showing that this god doesn’t exist.
About 56,300 witnesses in, we reach some Christian-type gods. And now the Christian is placed under the spotlight of explaining why the Bible is divine (and the others are not) where the Bible comes from, whether Jesus was historical or mythical, why their God is just (and the others not) and so on. Rather than preaching to the choir, the Christian is subjected to intense cross-examination from 99,998 other theists that disagree with their position, and is trying to convince this neutral jury it somehow rises above all of the other theisms.
Finally, it is my turn—Number 100,000. All I would say is, “If a fish could make a god, It would look like a fish. Every god you have seen is a human creation.” And sit down.
The jury would come back with a verdict of “There is no god here.”
It is only when Christians are placed in a position where they must defend their view against those that are nor predisposed to believe as they are, will they begin to see the weaknesses of the arguments, and how they would not compel a jury to find in their favor.