Are Christians Either Ignorant or Lying?

I found this comment online by an otherwise anonymous person who expresses what many atheists think. I'll quote it then comment on it below:
It's quite simple: to say that the bible is literally true requires that one be either ignorant or lying. Really. I know that's harsh, but that's what it boils down to. I suspect a very great many evangelicals are lying, including to themselves, bolstering the underlying absurdity of their belief by trying to convert others, 'good works' and so on. But there are plenty, including many high-profile ones, who are obvious untruthers.

It takes a truly spectacular degree of ignorance to actually believe that the universe was created in six days, 6000 years ago; and a level of duplicity that is almost incomprehensible to create a complete pseudo-science to support that; but of course we know why - all that lovely tax-free money.

I do not consider it possible for a person of decent education and sound mind to believe such nonsense. One or the other must be failing.
There is a great deal that needs to be said about this, so it would be too much of a bother to go into great depth here. Nonetheless, my point is that it is not that simple.

The fact is we are all ignorant about most things. Socrates noted that the wise person is someone who knows that he doesn't know. Only an uniformed or unwise person thinks otherwise. Let's face it, no one understands everything. This is palpably obvious in our information era. We all lie to ourselves too, about a great many things. Doing so keeps us sane. Psychological studies have proven this.

So if Christians are either ignorant or lying to themselves then what are they doing differently than the rest of us? Many atheists are ignorant or lying to themselves as well. It is a curse we all share as human beings. It's a problem we all need to overcome.

I'm pretty sure almost all highly intelligent/educated believing Christians of various stripes are dealing with the evidence as honestly as they can, given all that they know. That last phrase is paramount. They are honestly dealing with the evidence given all that they know based on everything that makes up their background knowledge. As a Christian who was like them before I rejected the faith, I can assure you of this. I also personally know many of them.

Let's say anyone who does not hold to a correct view on a topic is ignorant. Okay. Then Christians are all ignorant in that sense. But showing that they are ignorant is a different matter altogether. Who is the ignorant one? Most Christians think atheists are ignorant, and Christians are in the majority in America. While having a majority doesn't determine the truth, it can be considered a mark of having the truth. Christians have that on their side.

Yes, yes, I know Christian apologists are forced to deny science at least in some areas to believe, and that they engage in special pleading, non-sequiturs, and so on, as I've written about in this series of posts. When making these arguments I'm trying to convince them they are ignorant and unconsciously lying to themselves when it comes to their faith. But they are not so easily convinced, are they?

So there must be another explanation.

What's going on are rational people, consciously honest people, highly intelligent and educated people who have been indoctrinated to believe inside their given cultures. They are deluded. They cannot see it any other way given everything they know. They live in a different worldview. They have a different set of assumptions about how the world works and they are honestly trying to fit all evidence into the Procrustean bed of those assumptions. It's honest work even if it's deluded to the core. And I cannot convince most of them this is the case, even if it is.

All it takes are a few false assumptions. Valerie Tarico in her book, Trusting Doubt: A Former Evangelical Looks at Old Beliefs in a New Light,claims “it doesn’t take very many false assumptions to send us on a long goose chase.” To illustrate this she tells us about the mental world of a paranoid schizophrenic. To such a person the perceived persecution by others sounds real. “You can sit, as a psychiatrist, with a diagnostic manual next to you, and think: as bizarre as it sounds, the CIA really is bugging this guy. The arguments are tight, the logic persuasive, the evidence organized into neat files. All that is needed to build such an impressive house of illusion is a clear, well-organized mind and a few false assumptions. Paranoid individuals can be very credible.”

To see this same point expressed in a much more extreme manner, consider the hypothetical and contrived story of the man who thought he was dead. He went to his doctor, who tried to reason with the man that he was really still alive. Finally the doctor asked the man, "Do dead men bleed? If you cut a dead man, does he bleed?" The man replied, "No. The heart is not beating, there is no blood pressure, so if you cut a dead man, he does not bleed." The doctor then took a scalpel and nicked the man on his finger, and he proceeded to bleed. As the blood continued to come forth, the doctor said to the man, "See, you are bleeding. What does that tell you?" And the man answered, "Well, I guess dead men do bleed after all."

Don't get me wrong. I do think there are legitimate cases of Liars for Jesus. But even in some of these cases I can see why they would lie for Jesus, given all that they know. What would you say or do if you believed the lost would end up in an everlasting torment? Wouldn't a lie for Jesus help them to believe and escape those eternal fires? If you couldn't convince people in a theater there is a fire then wouldn't it be rational to tell them instead that some rich drunk guy is handing out lots of money outside, and show them a fist full of dollars? So likewise, given all that that they know on other grounds that Christianity is true, then even lies can be justified.