I know this thread is a bit dead and probably should stay that way, but I'd like to add something to the remarks I've made previously in this thread, so I'm gonna. Also, I'm not insightful enough to express myself with great brevity, as is the norm in these kinds of threads, so I'm just gonna say what I have to say, and if you don't want to read all of it, by all means, don't. (I think you'll miss my point if you skip any of it, but there certainly are lots worse crimes.) Lastly, I think this post is generally relevant to several things that have been discussed in this thread, but I also think it makes sense to be read on its own, without having read the whole thread. (I for one have only read parts of this thread, because I'm a very slow reader.)
Geez, I'm so embarrassed by the length of this that I'm gonna hide it inside one of those handy-dandy "spoiler" tags, which will make it even easier for you to skip if you want, hehe.
It's an absolutely essential thing for people to develop their truth- and falsehood-sniffing apparatuses until they're as sharp as they can possibly be; everyone needs a good crap detector because there's just so much crap out there, and we all see people around us who get hornswaggled by some kooky con artist or other and end up believing the most outlandish B.S. and (worse yet) telling everyone else about it.
(It's funny, though, how certain outlandish B.S. is considered so much more culturally acceptable than others. New-age-y motivational hucksters can talk millions of people into buying their original philosophical treatises -- it happens all the time, just look at any bestseller list -- and as long as they don't make one or two crucial mis-steps, they can be welcomed onto all the talk shows and generally approved-of in polite society. One big example of a crucial mis-step that will get your outlandish ass immediately thrown out the back door of any civilized public establishment is to suggest that any other person's philosophy can be deluded or largely mistaken, rather than equally valid to every other subjective personal philosophy. In short, relativism reigns in 2012, and "truth" -- or "truthiness," har-dee-har -- is, quite literally, a joke.) (But I digress, sorry.)
So, anyway, once you've got yourself a state-of-the-art, well-educated, and keenly-skeptical crap detector with which to test the validity (or invalidity) of various philosophical propositions (not everyone has one, or has a very good one, so that's not a skill to be taken for granted in any way), then your average seeker is confronted with a whole range of competing philosophies, most but not all of which contain mutually-exclusive propositions about the nature of reality. It's considered a worthwhile pursuit in our modern society for each individual to spend a certain amount of time considering the various established religions that are out there and eventually choosing one as your own personal "faith tradition," assuming you weren't grandfathered into a religion at your parents' and other relatives' lifelong insistence.
This brings us to my point (didn't think I had one, didja? heheh). I am a Christian, and a certain sort of one, one who believes that Christianity is the only true religion, and all others are false, including many watered-down varieties of Christianity, perhaps even the one professed at your local church or synagogue. I recognize and even lament or bemoan the horribly-offensive nature of my religious beliefs, but I adhere to them because I consider them the only true beliefs that anyone can have.
The point is, if one grants that the truth about life is knowable, and the truth about life might exclude (render false) at least some alternative truth-propositions, how is any sensible adult supposed to arrive at the truth, or know whether or not they have done so? Here is my answer ... (drum roll) ...
The answer is that if the truth is the truth, then it will convince you that it is the truth. The burden of proof always rest with the accuser, correct? with the person making the accusations, making the proposals? So it is with religion: the burden of proof rests with the religion's spokesperson, its source.
Christianity has the unmitigated gall to suggest that its source, its original spokesperson, is not a human person but a non-human person -- namely, God himself. It's an absurd, offensive, ludicrous claim; and it's also a true claim.
I am suggesting here that any person who chooses to believe Christianity will become convinced of the truth of Christianity by God himself. God, a real and specific and sentient being, will personally convince you.
Okay, so what's the catch? If your crap detector is any good at all, you're smart enough to know that there's always a fuckin' catch, man. :) The catch, in this case, is the following: God will not convince you of the truth of Christianity until you choose to believe it. He will not convince you beforehand. He insists, for whatever reason that only he knows, that you make the choice without being convinced in advance. The choice is what is known as a "leap of faith," which is, by definition, a choice to believe something is the case without knowing in advance that it is the case, i.e., without being convinced in advance that it is the case.
Finally, let me add a personal note: without being facetious in any way, I personally think that the choice of whether or not to believe Christianity is a shitty fucking choice. What do I mean by that? I mean that it is a choice that doesn't feel good or seem reasonable, i.e., it doesn't fit well with one's emotions or sense of reason. Christianity contains an explanation for why it is that way, why it's such a shitty fucking choice, and most Christians who look into it apparently decide that that explanation is good enough for them -- they accept it without continually being upset about it. For some bizarre reason, I have not come to that conclusion myself, based on my personal life experiences and based on my own crap detector's signals. I have come to the conclusion that it's a fucking shitty choice, and I'll be happy to argue the point with any other Christian who cares to do so -- in fact I welcome the opportunity most eagerly -- and I'm not even willing to hide my opinions about this from non-Christians, as if it might dissuade them from becoming a Christian. I believe one has to face the truth in order to become a Christian; by definition, in fact, becoming a Christian involves a direct encounter with the truth (or The Truth, if you like). If that is so, then there's no reason to hide from the facts about anything, and the facts tell me that it's a shitty arrangement, this whole Christianity thing.
My crap detector and my best faculties also tell me that Christianity is the truth, whether it feels good or not, and whether it seems true or not. Why is that good enough for me? Why am I a Christian if I think being a Christian is kind of a shitty deal? Because -- believe it or not? -- because God himself has convinced me.