An Incredible Test Derived From Phil Torres That Can Tell Beyond a Shadow Doubt Whether Believers are Honest People

Phil Torres kindly reviewed my new book, How to Defend the Christian Faith, which in my opinion deserves your up-vote. I want you to read again his most substantive complaint about my new book. His complaint is that "it was written 15 years too late!" That's right! He complains my book wasn't available much earlier in his life, when it could have helped him leave his faith. Let me quote him in full and then show we can derive a test to determine whether believers are honest people about their faith. I'll say it this way: Upon reading his challenge and the test derived from it, you can know beyond a shadow of doubt whether you're an honest person about your faith. Now I must come up with a catchy title for this test. Hmmmm, Rumspringa is a rite of passage for the Amish youth, which literally means "to run around." I like Rum, and I like the spring season, along with the letter "a". So I hereby declare this test to be named, the "Coming of Age Test for Faith" or CATF. [Don't ask me how that follows! ;-)]

Phil wrote:
On a personal note, How to Defend the Christian Faith is a book I wish I’d had when I was transitioning into college many years ago. At the time, I was engaged in a rather distressing struggle with the faith I'd inherited from my parents. On the one hand, I couldn’t understand how a loving God could possibly create a world overflowing with evil (especially natural evils like brain tumors, parasites, and childhood leukemia), yet on the other hand, I still considered myself a creationist. I was stuck between a crippling fear of eternal damnation and the intellectual pull of genuine curiosity about the Ultimate Nature of this infinitely strange universe in which we find ourselves. (It was this curiosity that eventually led me away from creationism and into the reality-based world of evolution biology.)

Loftus’ masterful manuscript is exactly the sort of book that could have provided some much needed guidance out of the Dark Ages of my youth. (Perhaps this is my most substantive complaint about the book: it was written 15 years too late!) Thus, for any reader who finds her or himself in a similar situation of metaphysical confusion, I think you'd find How to Defend the Christian Faith especially powerful.
First of all, to set the record straight, Phil is asking the impossible of me, since I was not even an atheist fifteen years ago. ;-) But I jest, again.

Let's make the challenge from what he said crystal clear. Almost every adult who has walked away from their faith will say, to a person, that they wish they knew the truth long before they found out. Forget for a moment we're specifically talking about Christianity. Think instead about former Muslims, Scientologists, Orthodox Jews, Mormons, Hindu's. Every former believer of every false faith wishes they had learned the truth about their religion earlier. To a person. No exceptions. The same is true for every Christian person who no longer believes.

Christian, you never know if you might be one of us someday. I know you think this impossible. But I thought the same as you do now. This attitude kept me from critically investigating my faith. It's the same attitude almost every former believer had, who eventually stopped believing. Such an attitude is the problem! It keeps you from being honest. The truth is you just cannot know with certainty you won't abandon your faith at some point in the future. Don't wait until later in life. You may miss out on a lot of life that your older self won't be happy about. Do it early in life. It might do your older self a lot of good. You just don't know. So critically investigate your faith at an early age. Investigate your faith by reading my book. Hey, why not, after all, that's what Phil suggests! The reason you should do it at an early age is because almost every former believer will say they could have pursued a different life plan than the one they presently live. Most all of us think life would have been better had we done so earlier in life. So at what age would that be the most feasible to do? It would seem you should it about the time you move out of your parents home, if not before. Do it as you can, when you can. But do it as a rite of passage.

Now for the test to help determine if believers are honest with their faith, the CATF.

I've previously made the case that every young adult's rite of passage into the adult world should include critically investigating the faith they were given by their parents. It's the reasonable thing to do given that so many other different religions are handed down to children the same way, on their Mama's knees. Yet these handed down religions cannot all be true. So this is another really good reason to investigate your inherited faith early in life. How do you know the faith handed down to you is the one true faith? That's the flip side of the same challenge to help your older self from waiting to long.

So, there are some really good reasons to honestly investigate your faith at about the time you leave home for college, say 16 years to 25 years old.

On the growing up side, how do you know the faith handed down to you is the one true faith?
On the older side of life, how do you know you won't leave your faith at some point in the future?

Both key questions converge on one time of your life, the coming of age point. At that age you should critically examine the faith you were handed to see if you were raised to believe right, and to save you from missing out on life if you end up leaving your faith later.

So no more excuses. Do it when you leave your parents home. Everything suggests you should do this at or around the coming of age years when you transition from adolescent to adult.

Upon hearing of the reasons to critically examine your faith at such a time in your life, but choosing not to do so means you, as a believer, are not an honest person with your faith. That's all this test is meant to show. If you don't do it after knowing you should, then you know beyond a shadow of doubt you aren't an honest person with your faith. You won't be able to deceive yourselves about this fact later. If you choose not to critically examine your faith at this point in your life then it should be obvious you fear knowing the truth. With that admission the question is whether or not you can live with yourself.

Yup! I like it, Yes I do. It's eminently reasonable if you are an honest person.