I have two Muslim friends that I talk with regularly. We debate politics, religion, and whatever else we can find to debate. They are both smart people that can hold their own in a debate, but when it comes to religion, neither has really thought a lot about how they would justify their own faith. So when I pose challenges to their faith neither of them finds themselves on real solid footing.
They have different reactions to this. One of them seems to chew on the problems more than the other. He goes home and poses questions similar to ones I've asked him to his own friends and family, and this makes them all uncomfortable. He's trying to resolve these things in his own mind.
The other really doesn't care. He says to me "Jon, I can't answer you, and you know what? I don't care. My wife is Muslim. My friends are Muslim. My parents are Muslim. I'm happy being Muslim. Why rock the boat?"
I'm thinking that's not a good attitude. You should go where the evidence leads. That's going to be better for you in the end, right?
Now, what the Christian apologist will say to me is "You say we should only believe what the evidence suggests. Where is your evidence for that belief?"
I think that's a fair point. I don't have evidence for this belief, so I can't prove that everyone should adhere to this belief. But what I can do is I can point out that evidence works pretty well. We've seen the witch doctors, prophets, and faith healers. We've seen that they have a poor track record. We've seen the scientific method. Failures occur in science, but science has a means of correction that dogma doesn't have. I'm sticking with evidence. History shows that it works well.
But then, what is my real criterion here? Is it "Believe the evidence" or "Believe what works"? Greg Krehbiel made an interesting point in this regard. He said that I believe things for which there is no evidence. I believe that I am not a brain in a jar being manipulated in my thoughts by some external source. How would it be possible to prove that false with evidence, since anything I would point to would be part of the program that is manipulating me?
So why do I deny that I'm a brain in a jar when I can't point to any evidence? My answer is that the assumption that I'm not a brain in a jar just works. If I pretend that I'm the only person in the world, and I steal or skip work, or maybe walk out into a busy intersection, things get uncomfortable.
Another thing that made me uncomfortable when I was a Christian was having these Christian beliefs that conflicted with the evidence. I had difficulty sleeping. My mind would race attempting to reconcile these claims and I could not do it successfully, and I had further difficulty putting these thoughts out of my mind. On the flip side of the coin rejecting Christianity was going to create other uncomfortable situations with friends, family, and my efforts to make sense of a world that had always been fully explained within the Christian paradigm.
But having beliefs that conflicted with the evidence just wasn't working for me, so I switched. But is that true for everyone? It doesn't seem to bother my Muslim friend. His beliefs work for him. Who am I to say he should change?