If you test 99% of folks' claimed beliefs FOR SENSE, you discover an amazing thing: most DON'T make sense. So, who's not thinking? Surely GOD THINKS. Just as surely, Renes Descartes, regarded as one of the greatest thinkers of all time, wasn't thinking either. For, he wrote "Cogito ergo sum." "I think, therefore I exist." Oh? Did he just come into existence without a CAUSE? And this, in a treatise which is dedicated to deciphering the nature and existence of God? LOL! "Cogita", not "Cogito". For "Cogita" means, "HE THINKS." That is, God. So, we needn't feel bad that 99% of OUR beliefs can't be rationally accounted!
So, we generally believe a thing because it 'fits in' with some feeling, or person in our periphery. Or, because 'something' about it seems right, and we aren't inclined to audit further. Of course, that's why Enron and Arthur Andersen became a mess. Why WorldCom became a mess. Why now, Parmalat is in trouble. NO THINKING, so no auditing, so no monitoring, so..disaster. And we the masses, ANGRY that such rich folks could be so non-thinking, TRASH THE WHOLE COMPANIES, instead of singling out a few individuals, and SAVING the companies. For, companies are but aggregates of PEOPLE, just like NATIONS are. We TRASH BASED ON EMOTION (jealousy/ greed/ prejudice), INSTEAD of finding a more RATIONAL way to solve a problem which affects THOUSANDS OF LIVES. Oh well: we FELT LIKE TRASHING. Not, thinking.
So, why believe or disbelieve based on feeling; or, because it's popular; or, because spouse/ parents/ friends believe? Only five-year-olds should be slaves to feeling, threatened by differing from the crowd, by change, or by mistakes. Why disbelieve because you don't like something? After all, when you were five years old, you didn't like coitus, either.
First Challenge: is the belief based on PREJUDICE? What's so funny about intellectual arguments against God or a particular 'god' is the seething undertone of, only stupid people believe that. Oh? So if a drunk really has a million dollars, and he STUPIDLY tells you so, he's WRONG? Oh? So if a respectable person who DOESN'T have a million dollars LIES to you, claiming he's rich, he's RIGHT? Hmmm. How easily we humans make judgements on how we FEEL; on how we feel ABOUT someone/something else. Then call it, 'true'. Even, "rational". Which is fine, because you have a right to feel and judge any way you like. But how SMART is it, to adjudge something said about GOD, Who is worth WAY MORE than a mere million bucks and is NOT the speaker, by the speaker's attractiveness?
Note how it's not necessary to say everyone is equal; it's not necessary to say every norm is equally good. It IS necessary to say that people should have the FREEDOM to associate with whomever they will. Not, because this is a political or moral principle, but because otherwise, you have UNENDING WAR. Note well: the essence of togetherness is PEACE, which requires RECONCILIATION. That's why people construct ON that FACT all manner of moral, religious, cultural and political AGREEMENTS.
When it comes to God, this question of RECONCILIATION is all-encompassing, however. For, "God" would have to mean INFINITE, UNDIVIDED; hence, 'Together', 'inside', so to speak, all He creates. [Or, all things are 'inside' Him, but imo that analogy misleads, implying God is spatial.] God by definition would have to include an Attribute of Truth, too: else, how could He naturally 'stay', God? So everything, however gross, would have to be RECONCILED somewhere inside His Attribute of Infinite Truth. Clearly some things would require a penalty or other payment to JUSTIFY reconciliation, but if that payment is made, then the thing has a justifiable place, right? However gross it may be to us, GOD HAS TO RECONCILE IT, or it can't exist. To gerrymander truth is wrong, obviously, so in God the ACCOUNTING reconciliation of all things MUST be freely VALID. Else truth is not truth, and God is not God.
So, whatever exists, must be validly ACCOUNTED FOR. So it doesn't matter, human-to-human, if one is 'bad' and another 'good', when it comes to reporting information ABOUT God. What does matter, is whether the information is correct: the attributes of the speaker aren't God, so can't be relevant to proving the correctness of the information ABOUT God. So, if a drunk or someone in a 'bad' culture is nonetheless given the right information about God, the person's BADNESS is irrelevant. Principle: judge data about God by ITS CONTENT, not its messenger. After all, if God exists, then everything reflects Him by likeness OR contrast, so if He wants to use a donkey to teach an ass (Balaam, in Genesis)... (See also 2Cor2:14-16.)
Then there's the problem of disinterest, which is the deepest kind of negative volition man can have. Nod to God on Friday or Saturday or Sunday, like a laundry chore you must do. For this group, which frankly is all of us at some stage in our lives, God orchestrates PUNISHMENT, with or without a long 'nothing-happening' period. Idea is, such disinterest, when motivated to QUESTION, will actually, ACCUSE (see the pattern in Gen3). When the 'bad' thing remains, the accusation (maybe gradually) reduces to an ACTUAL questionning. Assuming, that is, the person has ANY positive volition to God. Else, the accusing will only intensify, the person will become more bitter, and the punishment will upgrade to match the accusation. (SpirPath.htm is on this topic.) The story of Pharaoh in Exodus is a prime example of this latter category. Perhaps the ultimate example is Satan: illustrated by his clever, cold, dismissive, apoplectic, insinuating speech/THINKING in Gen2, beg. of Job1&2, Isa14, and especially, Matt4. [English masks tone, so you can't see much of his attitude in the words.]
So, in short, either to increase a person's ALREADY EXISTING INTEREST (but blocked by fear), or to get-negative-person-past-disinterest, God will orchestrate circumstances to MOTIVATE QUESTIONNING HIM.
So most of what you see promoted or taught in ANY faith, Christian or no, not only doesn't answer our questions in a manner which MAKES SENSE, but is idiotic: flashy emotional appeals are made. Largely, 'to separate you and your money. Conform! Be Politically Correct! Crusade! Feel the POWER! Well, God isn't EVER like that, which makes sense: why would the Most Gorgeous Person in the Universe need ANY of that tripe? So GOD does answer and DOES make sense, FOR NO MONEY (see Isa55): you can PROVE this assertion, if you are willing to spend the time. For yourself. There's no need to be afraid. No need to be hostile. God is not some race or culture, that one should feel threatened.
The world of finance and accounting determines the truth of something's value, by means of appraisal. You've probably heard of jewelry or real estate appraisal. Well, there's another type of appraisal called "business appraisal". Most consider its methods dull (lots of grunting accounting is involved), but to appraise the worth of a large or small corporation is really an art like rhetoric. For, in that particular financial discipline there are theories, as in any other discipline. The key to proper business appraisal is to value the business according to MANY (at least 5) theories, and if they all come up with the same approximate value-answer, you likely have the CORRECT value-answer. That's what rhetoric is, for valuing TRUTH.
So also, in the analysis of truth. If REASONABLE methods of appraisal (here, of truth) which don't agree with your own method, ALSO derive a SIMILAR answer as your own method did, then answer is probably right. Granted, if a whole bunch of people come up with the WRONG answer, you'll also see a lot of agreement about it. With respect to 'finding' God, this wrong-answer-agreement happens most of the time. Fortunately, a WRONG answer with respect to God will always have a GLARING goofiness which is core to the agreement itself: so you can see agreement is really based on emotion, not objectivity.
For example, for millenia billions of people have believed in some form of God or gods. They keep on doing so. Granted, WHY and HOW they believe might turn out to be goofy, but so many for so long and all believing, constitutes a recurrence of the same valuation (broadly speaking), by the widest DIVERGENCE of methods. So it still behooves the objective person to conclude, hey, I better investigate this idea.
By contrast, the consensus among mankind has always been that you must do something for 'god', to get favor from 'god' (or 'gods'). Here, what's core to the consensus, is the UNREASONABLE IDEA that man CAN do something for 'god'. So man's puffing up his own value with hot air. It's goofy to claim that Someone so far BETTER than you needs anything you've got. So this VERY PERVASIVE consensus of man's worth is untrue, no matter that 99% of humanity, buys it.
So, you can read what someone writes in a book or webpage, noting carefully WHY AND HOW they 'appraise' what they call a truth. Those who believe in the Koran, have reasons. You can investigate them. Those who believe in the Bible, have reasons. You can investigate them. BETWEEN THE TWO (here, only two mentioned), you can ask, what are the commonalities? Do the commonalities make sense? Then, of course, you'd have to analyse the books on which they base their conclusions, looking for yet more clues to commonalities. Same, with any number of sects within a particular faith. Same, in comparing holy books themselves (dispensing with human beliefs altogether, a faster system). Then, when you find a GLARING goofiness, you can pitch that holy book, narrowing down the possibilities.
In sum, both the methods of rhetoric and appraisal offer objective sleuthing by means of AGREEMENT (commonality might signify an objective fact due to its recurrence), and by means of PROCESS-OF-ELIMINATION (eliminating the goofinesses). Thus you have real data and real information upon which to construct or revise your own beliefs.
It also doesn't HONOR GOD to just swallow what even a RIGHT teacher teaches, since no teacher will ever have enough time to teach all of what is BEHIND what he teaches. So, even if you DO know you've got the right definition of God, the right holy book, and the right teacher, if you don't QUESTION AND SEEK MORE, you're basically telling God you don't CARE to know Him better, and you don't CARE about the teacher's EFFORTS, either. How honorable is that? Of course, many teachers get very nervous if you question; many a faith beats you to death with DON'T QUESTION! commands. Would the REAL God be so threatened? If 'yes', then WHY do you have a BRAIN? [To avoid confrontation and save your teacher time, ask GOD for help on what you want to know more about, or what bothers you. If you are a Christian, there's a Royal Protocol for this: use 1Jn1:9, ask FATHER in Son's Name (Christ is our juridical basis, Rom5:1), then talk about what you want to know. See James 1-4 for more details on how the protocol works -- and fails, when folks don't follow it.]
Of course, you must complete YOUR OWN due diligence. Deductive methods are far more efficient: rhetoric, appraisal, etc. YOU START WITH A REASONABLE POSITION, then test it out. Don't flail around with just facts and no premise; preferably, use a POSITIVE premise rather than a hostile one. When it comes to God questions, most (even pro-Bible) scholarship today uses hostile premises and induction, so wastes time and money. The blind leading the blind, the blind men and the elephant.
SO BE SMART IN YOUR RESEARCH: if you are a Christian, KEEP USING 1Jn1:9 to stay ONLINE with the Holy Spirit, or you will blindly go down fake trails, like so many scholars. SAVE TIME, lol: be online with the Spirit, not your own understanding. You WILL be able to prove it, AFTER you see the answer. Again, deduction is the most efficient testing method. So, deduction is used in these websites: you might find TECHNIQUES of deduction and sleuthing which you will find profitable in your own pursuits; you might find ideas or insights helpful; but in all events, you too have to do your own testing. Each of us is INDIVIDUALLY RESPONSIBLE TO GOD for what we believe: like Elihu told Job, "the ear tests truth". No one else can be blamed for our own cherished falsehoods. Blaming didn't work for Adam and the woman in the Garden when they first accused God (hypocritically -- see Gen3), so it won't EVER work for us.
So "Brain" and "Belief" begin with a "B" for a reason: belief per se is a faculty of learning -- if you aren't believing, you aren't learning. (You can't learn 1+1=2 without believing it true.) Learning is based on FACTS AND ANALYSIS, but if you don't do the fact-finding, and if you don't do the analysis, you don't learn, either. So, if you just believe ABSENT sufficient facts or analysis (i.e., for emotional or fit-in-crowd reasons), then you tilt after windmills, fantasizing like poor ol' Don Quixote. Even if what you believe, is actually true! Belief ASSENTS to an idea, calling it true. So you 'learn' as a result. Trick is, not to 'learn' what's NOT true! Hence the foregoing rhetoric and appraisal testing styles, to help root out falsely-believed tenets, while at the same time, finding correct tenets.
So, FEELING is bogus; THINK, use your brain. Question, test any claim for sense, always. For, God wouldn't GIVE you a brain, GIVE you the ability to QUESTION, LEARN, if He didn't WANT you to USE that brain He gave you.. right?