Barbara A. Drescher taught courses in quantitative/experimental research methods and topics in cognitive psychology at California State University, Northridge. She wrote a provocative post where she argues as follows:
The tendency to judge conclusions based on current beliefs is a product of how our brains evolved and developed – a side-effect of what makes us successful organisms. It is human nature, it is wrong and must be overcome if one is to be consistently rational. This problem pops up in a host of cognitive tasks and is a manifestation of the most influential of human frailties: the confirmation bias. This makes it extremely resistant to correction, especially in real-world contexts.I am convinced that confirmation bias runs amuck in the minds of most all believers. They judge the merits of any argument based on whether they agree with the conclusion. I am also convinced that apologists who defend Christianity start with their conclusions and then construct arguments to support them. So I am convinced that to embrace and defend the Christian faith is irrational. I cannot even hope to convince most Christians of this, since they aren't usually reasoned into their faith in the first place. But let me beat my head against the wall one more time:
Reason is about the validity of arguments, so judging a conclusion as valid or invalid without examining the argument is itself an irrational act. Without the argument, your only yardstick is your own belief about the truth of that conclusion. Link.
I agree that all humans are subject to confirmation bias and irrationality. It's a bi-product of sin. What I disagree with is that only religious people are enslaved to such things and I disagree that godless people are free of it. Think about it. When you look at what Loftus is arguing against is it any different for those who reject Christianity. Let's rephrase Loftus' last paragraph:
I am convinced that confirmation bias runs amuck in the minds of most all [unbelievers]. They judge the merits of any argument based on whether they agree with the conclusion. I am also convinced that apologists who [attack] Christianity start with their conclusions and then construct arguments to support them. So I am convinced that to [reject] and [attack] the Christian faith is irrational. I cannot even hope to convince mos[unbelievers] of this, since they aren't usually reasoned [out of] their faith in the first place. But let me beat my head against the wall one more time:
Switching the terms to their opposite does not destroy the logic of the paragraph. I think this show that atheists are subject to the same failures and inconsistencies they accuse Christians of having. When I hear most atheists describe Christianity they describe a system that I don't recognize and also reject as well as all other Christians that I know. How do people like John Loftus know that they haven't just traded one delusion for another? If you read the rest of Loftus' article he attempts to answer that. He says he is in pursuit of the the truth but given that people defend what they want to believe how does he know he's found the truth? He cannot. An atheist may be thinking he/she is free, but he/she is not.
Debunking Christianity: You Can’t Judge an Argument By Its Conclusion