Here's what I am dealing with.
I have been on a long road to recovery from faith. I know, it's a cliche to refer to myself as a recovering Catholic/Christian, but if the shoe fits...
Perhaps not surprisingly, I am still attending a church because I have made some friends there that I care about, my family is Catholic (cafeteria, at best) and my in-laws are devout Christians. My congregation is fairly young (most are in their early 20s or 30s), and it appears that many have an unflinching adherence to dogma. One friend of mine said that she was saved at age 4, which I find utterly ridiculous. Her husband is a young-earth-creationist, and an MD-in-training (the combination of which, in and of itself, is unsettling). My neighbors across the hall are Campus Crusaders for Christ, which I found out the day my wife and I moved in. At the time we met them, I was yearning for an authentic connection to faith, so this seemed like a "blessing from above."
As part of this church, my wife and I have, at times reluctantly, attended community groups focused on bible study.
I used to approach these "study groups" with a degree of skepticism that I kept at bay as I learned I was in the minority. Evolution is often a topic of discussion, but too often the straw man argument rears its ugly head.
A year or two ago, I started reading atheist literature. Specifically, "The God Delusion," "Climbing Mount Improbable," "The End of Faith," "Letter to a Christian Nation," and several others.
I have spoken to pastors, friends who happen to be Christian, my parents, my father-in-law, and fellow students, and I have come to the conclusion that those with a Christian bias have nothing intellectual to offer in terms of defense of their position other than to resort back to the only document that serves their purpose, the Bible.
I have some burning questions to which I would like to find some answers.
1) With some 2000 years of advances in our understanding of natural phenomena, with the added advantage that findings in one branch of science are routinely corroborated by findings in other branches, how can one argue that the answers to skeptics of Christianity in the Bible are at all similar to skeptics of religion today? They're not!!!
2) I usually re-read something if it doesn't make sense to me the first time. As a biologist, this is a necessity. I may not agree with what I read, but it's not because I have some a priori position, but because I may weigh the findings against what others have said in the field or relevant to the topic at hand. I never expect to have a revelation of being convinced by something as a function of mystical inspiration when I read secular material. Why, then, do my theologically inclined friends tell me to read the Bible, e.g., Romans 4:1-25, when I express doubt in faith? And if it doesn't convince me, read it again until I feel the Holy Spirit within me. Is the "truth" supposed to magically jump off the page?
3) I understand when people experience hardship (addiction, divorce, death of a loved one, etc.) they need support. Faith in Jesus is often explained as a factor in people's recovery. It is perhaps when people are at their most vulnerable that people of faith come to prescribe a course of prayer. I am not against people getting back on their feet, but praying blindly without a concrete course of action or pulling together resources at your disposal or reaching out to others, is quite a foolish course of action. Why is prayer still a default setting in this day and age?
Anyhow, some direction would be appreciated, but not back to a book written by illiterate goat-herders eons ago.