No, someone does not believe in the Christian religion because it doesn't make sense. It is self-contradictory, it has so many contradictions that it's impossible to accept it without feeling like an idiot. You could probably find zillions of contradictions, here are some of my favorites:
If god is almighty and sees the future, how come he didn't think of that on damn tree in the middle of paradise?
If god is perfect, how come he failed at making man perfect too?
If god is almighty and the enemy of Satan, how come he doesn't just kill Satan?
If god is good and almighty how come there are so much innocents suffering in the world? Probable answer: because he tests people. But if he sees the future it's needless.
And so on, you get the picture, when the clerics are done sorting these questions out drop me a note.
The tree was a test for mankind which Satan made Adam and Eve fail. God had to stick to his rules and the consequences ensued. The tree was neccessary because Men are to have free will. God wants them to love him and that's not possible when there's no alternative.
There's a whole set of rules, that's why he won't kill Satan just now. Christians believe mankind isn't innocent per definition since they were cast out of Eden. All the bad we see in this world is because of that and because Men has free will and Satan keeps pulling strings to keep them away from God. In this sense, Satan tempts People and makes them sin which in turn can't make them come to God.
God's final answer is Jesus who presents Men with a solution to escape Satan's grip and position themself with God.
That's what christians who want to make sense of it all believe anyway ;-)
The only real contradiction I see is that God says he's perfect but still created mankind and wants people to love him.
Here is another plot hole, if god is indeed almighty he could simple strike down all foes instantly. And what are the other angels doing? don't they have free will are they just robots? If Satan is indeed a fallen angel than God, really screwed up, which is again a problem because he is almighty and all knowing.
> The tree was a test for mankind which Satan made Adam and Eve fail.
If god is almighty and all knowing and have created man, and even sees the future, he would have known the outcome in advance, so basically there would have been no reason to do it.
> There's a whole set of rules, that's why he won't kill Satan just now.
Then God is probably not that almighty if he has to stick to rules, instead of hurling a lighting bolt or a ball of fire at Satan.
I am not saying that God can't exist, I am saying that the Christian definition is impossible, a god can't be all of these at once:
- all knowing(could see even the future)
- be good/nice whatever
- be perfect
- have free will
And I don't even want to get into Jesus, that would be a huge topic by itself.
>If god is almighty and sees the future, how come he didn't think of that on damn tree in the middle of paradise?
He made that tree. So, I'd say He thought of it. He made it for the precise purpose of giving mankind the ability to choose. If we didn't have the ability ability to choose God, then our serving Him would be pointless, since we'd essentially be mindless drones. God wanted people to have the ability to love Him of their own free will.
>If god is perfect, how come he failed at making man perfect too?
Adam and Eve were perfect. Then they chose not to be perfect.
>If god is almighty and the enemy of Satan, how come he doesn't just kill Satan?
Because Satan still serves a purpose. I'm not entirely sure of all of it, but the main purpose seems to be to provide an obvious choice for us. God or Satan, who do you want to serve?
>If god is good and almighty how come there are so much innocents suffering in the world? Probable answer: because he tests people. But if he sees the future it's needless.
Testing is part of it. But testing is for our benefit, not His. Like you said, He knows the future, so He already knows what we will do.
The larger part is that humans can make choices, see my first answer. And thus, humans make choices that hurt others. The airplane mechanic who missed the problem that cause random flight to crash made the choice not to be thorough. The criminal chose to rob that bank and shoot the teller.
So, bad things happen to good people because good and bad people make bad choices.
As for natural disasters, they happen because humanities choices effect more than just humanity. The entire world was perfect before Adam sinned. When he sinned, the entire world broke.
You can always find something that is not right.
> Adam and Eve were perfect. Then they chose not to be perfect.
According to the bible, they didn't know exactly what will happen if they eat from the tree, hence they didn't chose, they were tricked. If they were perfect they should have asked God before they tasted it. The story kind of makes me feel that humans were created to be fools according to the bible.
The story condemns curiosity which is one of the best human traits, without it, we'd be still in the stone age. And of course a hood 'nerd' has to be curious.
> God wanted people to have the ability to love Him of their own free will.
Why not just create love, it would save a lot of time, I know love is not a substance to us... but someone almighty could surely create it.
> Because Satan still serves a purpose. I'm not entirely sure of all of it, but the main purpose seems to be to provide an obvious choice for us. God or Satan, who do you want to serve?
This sounds like God is playing a game with Satan, a very cruel game if you ask me and pointless too, because God knows how it will end anyway. And it also seems that he doesn't kill Satan because then he'd be bored.
About the free will thing:
Let's say you create robots and program them slightly differently. And let then interact with each other. In their view they have free will, in your context however you know exactly what they gonna do, you could calculate it all in advance. So in the end we may not even have free will, we are just complicated.
Se my other comments here, I am not saying that God does not exist, I am saying that the Christian religion is probably wrong about it, it can't be that way.
There's an enormous, detailed, thoughtful tradition of systems thinking in Christianity. That tradition began with Paul, whose letter to the Romans is a systematic attempt to understand the relationship of Jesus of Nazareth to the established Jewish beliefs of the time. It continues (notably; these are my favorites) with Aquinas, Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Hegel, Kierkegaard, Barth, Bonhoeffer, and von Batlhasar.
Far from uncritical belief in a threatening assertion, the theological tradition has produced several (some mutually exclusive!) systems of belief that appeal to reason as well as faith.
Donald Knuth and Larry Wall, to name two, make no secret of their Christianity and it doesn't seem to have harmed their reputations to any significant degree. :-)
Ultimately the thing that makes me believe Christianity is because it's the one religion rooted in history - either Jesus did rise from the dead or he didn't. It makes it the easiest religion to disprove: all the Roman/Jewish authorities at the time would have had to have done was produce the body and they could have squashed the whole movement there and then. The fact that they couldn't, I find pretty compelling.
Wikipedia has a decent overview of this at http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jesus_myth_theory
One of the "biased" sources - Luke - is widely regarded by people who know what they're talking about (like Sir William Ramsay who spent a lifetime digging up the Middle East) as the finest, most accurate historian who ever lived.
The fact that the first written accounts of Jesus appeared only decades after his execution is extraordinary to scholars of ancient literature who are used to dealing with gaps of many _centuries_, sometimes even a millenium. I can't remember offhand what the earliest copy we have of Tacitus is for example but I think it's a good 800 years after he wrote it.
When I apply the same methods of the Jesus mythers to Alexander the Great, Julius Caesar, Tacitus, Mohammed and even Abraham Lincoln, guess what? None of them ever existed either.
You need a great deal of hand-waving, special pleading and outright dishonesty to be a myther. Robin Lane Fox, who is certainly no Christian, is at least honest when he reads the account of John and concludes that it's an eyewitness account. Would that Dawkins and Price had the same integrity.
Keep in mind, too, that many Jews believe the rising again/son of God story in the bible was a myth, a parobal, and that it was not intended to be an actual rising from the dead.
There are many places too, as a programmer, where I say the same thing. I do most of my work in the application stack, and have only the vaguest understanding of what goes on in the guts of the operating system and kernel. I trust, though, that someone has spent time and energy thinking about how the operating system and its API work. I also suspect that if a fey mood ever took me, I could work my way through the kernel code of linux and understand what's going on. The reason I haven't is that I spend most of my time at a different level of abstraction.
The system of beliefs that underly Christian faith are similar. Many people work at a level of abstraction, if you will, that doesn't involve the sort of careful analysis that is, nevertheless, possible. Other Christian thinkers have explored the interplay of reason and faith with extraordinary detail. When someone says, "I'm happy to stop my analysis here", it might not mean that what underlies their belief is irrational, it might mean that they haven't had the time or the inclination to examine the layers of abstraction beneath it.
It's like a beginning programmer looking at a hash table object and hitting 'view source'. What kind of programmer would he be if he didn't want to see behind the curtain at least once? How could he be expected to excel?
Your example about a programmer peeking into the hash table is germane, because the hash table's "implementation" is, itself, composed of interfaces. Following your argument, how could a programmer be expected to excel if he didn't understand those interfaces? And it's turtles all the way down until you hit Feynman diagrams.
That's doesn't seem to be how people actually work. At some point, a layer of abstraction is leak-proof enough to satisfy curiosity and allow meaningful work to be built upon it. Where that point is will vary from person to person. Much as some people are content to work with a vague notion of Newtonian gravity, some Christians are content to live with a fairly abstract and vague understanding of theology. There's nothing wrong with that. We call people who wrestle with abstractions surrounding the natural world scientists, and we call people who wrestle with abstractions surrounding God and faith theologians.
 Well, Newton explicitly disclaims this. I haven't read Einstein recently enough to remember whether he disclaims it explicitly, but I think he certainly is no Aristotelian.
"We like to think we've arrived at a level of understanding inaccessible to lesser mortals [...] I believe that's why it's easier either to dismiss organised religion as unnecessary or deride it as being motivated by factors less worthy than the pure quest for truth."
I don't think like that at all, and I definitely wouldn't like to think that. I solve problems that are interesting to me. I have a voracious appetite for learning new things because learning is interesting to me too, perhaps the most interesting thing in the world. I don't dismiss religion as unnecessary, I dismiss it because there's no scientific proof of God, and religion without a God seems pretty silly.
What's that? Proof? No, I don't have it. But I have faith! That's enough, right?