All of that could be left to the experts who, I believed, had already figured it all out and who could provide experts who, I believed, had already figured it all out and who could provide the historical, rational, documentary, archeological evidences if anyone ever asked. (No one ever did.) [p.22]I suspect this is a typical attitude of Christians. They don't know much about the alleged evidence for Christianity, but have some idea that it's there.
I think Barker does a good job of capturing how evangelists get people to convert without ever providing a good reason to suppose Christianity is true:
I think the answer lies with assumptions. Christians do know how to think; but they don't start deep enough. A thoughtful conclusion is a synthesis of antecedent presuppositions or conclusions. The propriatary nature of Christ's sacrificial atonement, for example, is very logical. Logical, that is, if you first accept the existence of sin, the fall of humankind, the wrath of God and divine judgement. If you don't buy the premises, then, of course, the conclusion can not be logical...It can be a little hard to believe that people shouting assertations, or handing out pamphlets that quote the Bible without giving any reason to suppose it is true, can work. Apparently, though, these things can capitalize on some people's unquestioned assumptions
The reason evangelists are effective is because they capitalize on people's unquestioned assumptions, desires and fears.
A section from Barker's deconversion story is also worth quoting:
To press my point, I decided to create some cognitive dissonance. "What would happen to me," I asked, "if I were to die right now?" They were silent. "Bob, you're an ordained minister. You know your Bible. What happens to unbelievers?"This is an extremely telling scene. A large percentage of Americans may believe that non-Christians go to Hell, that the Bible, with its stories of divinely sanctioned murder, is inerrant, but they just because they answer abstract questions that way doesn't mean they like to think about it, especially when given concrete examples. This fits with how Barker describes himself as a fundamentalist
"Well, the Bible says they go to hell," he responded.
"You know me," I continued. "I'm not a bad person. I'm honest. If I walk out of this restaurant and get killed by a truck, will I go straight to hell?" They didn't want to answer that question, squirming in their seats. "Well, do you believe the Bible?" I pressed.
"Of course," Myrna said.
"Then will I go to hell?"
"Yes," they finally answered, but not without a great deal of discomfort. Perhaps it was not a nice lunch topic, but I wanted to make the brutality of Christianity real to them. I knew it would be hard for them to imagine their God punishing someone like me. I later heard that they were perturbed with me for having coerced them to say I was going to hell. It forced them to acknowledge that, as much as we wanted to be friends, their religion considered me the enemy." [p.42]
I used to read all the ugly arts of the Bible, but for some reason they were "invisible," even beautiful. was taught that God was perfect, loving, and righteous--so there could be no questin in my mind as to his character. Any apparent contradictions or ugliness could be ignored in the faith of the "mystery" of God's ways. [p.9]This should be a key point to keep in mind when dealing with fundamentalists. If you're actually trying to win someone over, it's worth saying, "I know you don't like to think about this, but..."