Zakharra -- I think the behavior of Christians is probably the second biggest barrier to people coming to believe in Christ, and it seems like the first. (The actual first: human nature.) All IMO.
CBJD -- I can honestly tell you that I've learned a lot from participating in this thread and interacting with others here. I suppose it hasn't "changed my mind" in a major way, but it has certainly had a significant effect on my thinking and my understanding of certain things. FWIW.
In fact, rick957 has made me feel worse about Christianity. I used to wish I could believe like some people, but I don't want to believe like that.
I see that I have proven my own point by adding to whatever barriers stand between you and believing in Christianity. I'm genuinely, terribly sorry for that; it is in fact the very last thing that I would have wanted, the diametric opposite of my intentions in posting here. And learning that will have a significant effect on my thinking, I can promise you that.
I've invited anyone who wants to talk further about anything I've said here to let me know, here or in private; it's an open invitation that I want to reiterate.
There is much about Christianity that I've not tried to explain in my posts here, because 1) in the West, and especially in America, it's impossible to become well-educated or interact with many people without encountering the basic message of Christianity somewhere, and most people have heard it so many times that re-hearing it is tiresome and aggravating. I had hoped that my perspective on Christianity might add something new to people's view of it, but in a positive, not negative way. Oh, and 2) I haven't tried to cover everything because I don't want it to appear that I'm trying to proselytize or to criticize anyone with other beliefs.
All that said, since I've had a negative effect, let me briefly add a positive point or two. There's a reason why the noxious phrase "born again" has been used to describe the effect of believing in Christianity. One comes to experience a day-to-day life that is so different from one's previous life that it might as well be a whole new life. Is it a new life that is without problems or bad feelings? Not in this lifetime, certainly not. But nevertheless, it is a change that is gigantic and is unspeakably wonderful.
There's so much more I could say -- so much more that I wish someone
would say here, because I'm a terrible advocate for Christianity. In the interests of brevity, however, I'll stop after sharing this with you. This is something that occurred to me very recently, and I consider it extremely personal.
The word that is used to describe the basic message of Christianity is "gospel," which means something like "good news." Here is how I personally see the "gospel":
the most miserable person who has ever lived can be
the happiest person who has ever lived.
That is what I believe is the essence of the "good news"; it is the truth about life, yours and mine, and it is very good news indeed.