I had a short online debate the other day with an atheist, something I have learned to try to avoid. It's not that I am afraid of debate, but the forum of typing my point, the other typing his and trying to trap one another in semantics and other childish debate techniques is not only faulty in its appeal but also lacks the intimacy and respect that a discussion of philosophical difference requires.
I think it is actually healthy to challenge others beliefs...and probably something not done enough in our current culture. There is much of a "fall in line" and "keep up with the times" thinking, stronger even that existed when I grew up, where no one thinks about there answers and so much of ANY belief relies on popularism and blind-acceptance of what others say that almost no one has faith anymore.
And when I say faith, I'm also talking about persons like the atheist I debated. Like his accusation of Christians, he too seemed brainwashed and indoctrinated into the same style of argument. It was almost predictable. Demand a source. Attack the source and Socratically declare the other position un-provable.
In more one-on-one or small group discussions, where grandstanding is less likely to occur than online, I've mentioned the idea of my beliefs being challenged all the time. I am forced to reconsider what I believe in the face of new information and new perspective. After all, I'm relying on some "ancient comic book" or "bronze-age fairytale" for my evidence and science has proven so much superstition into oblivion.
When discussing these points civilly and with those who will genuinely hear my response, I'm allowed to bring up the historical accuracy of the Bible and also point out its consistency - something most tend to believe it lacks because of cherry picking passages. Moreover, something many accuse about the Bible is it has been changed and retranslated to give those in authority the opportunity to alter things for a political purpose in their time. The misconception is that the Bible is not the same words at all as they were when originally written down.
One of the grand ironies about that position is the concept of a codex. Ever wonder why the Bible is broken down to chapter and verse -- or why sometimes verses break in mid-sentence? The codex methodology was used to ensure when copying from one text that it was accurately transcribed to the next. There is a lot of detail to it so I'll leave it to the curious to research those details, but research has shown that more than 95 percent of translated copies were precise to the original versions of text. In many ways, a codex was a very early version of the idea of hyperlinking, the core basis of today's World Wide Web to ensure one accurately links to the desired reference. The difference is, today's URL sources are subject to far more change than Biblical text.
All that aside, it is important to remember that my adversary's Socratic attack, while rooted in winning his point, does have merit. But it has merit in all beliefs. Nothing can really be proven if one really breaks down the pieces. This includes an atheistic viewpoint...even to a cosmological origin explained by science. In the very first seconds of the "big bang" modern physics and mathematics don't work. The explanation is that existence was being created; therefore, prior to this it is impossible to use such methods to understand the beginning. Something outside the laws of physics occurred and those earliest points are not able to be comprehended through how we understand everything else.
Think about that for a moment. Isn't that much the same argument for the existence of God? Either choice of origin, neither can be explained or proven by the laws of the universe. That kind of sounds like "faith" to me.
This really is my point. The atheist, who really understands what he or she believes, must also submit that the ideology really comes down to faith. Theists, and typically Christians, are often accused of self-reinforcing delusions to support their perspective. But the truth is most are actually quite ignorant of what and why they believe as they do -- and this includes atheists. Even they are victims of cognitive dissonance.