Sunday, September 20, 2020

Prosperity from Apologetics

1Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming on you. 2Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. 3Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. 4Look! The wages you failed to pay the workers who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. 5You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter. 
James 5:1-5 (NIV)

 7For we brought nothing into the world, and we can take nothing out of it. 8But if we have food and clothing, we will be content with that. 9Those who want to get rich fall into temptation and a trap and into many foolish and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. 10For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. 

1 Timothy 6:7-10 (NIV)

One who oppresses the poor to increase his wealth and one who gives gifts to the rich--both come to poverty.

Proverbs 22:16 (NIV)

I love apologetics and always will. It's what led me to Christianity and it's the avenue through which God gives me the greatest fulfillment. My faith is not in apologetics or apologists, but it was still extremely disheartening to see in the public IRS records what some apologetics ministries are paying to their apologists (and to some extent, their other leaders, but that's a somewhat separate issue since teacher are held to a higher standard; James 3:1). Christian organizations should pay their people enough for them to make a decent living, but shouldn't be paying them so much that they're getting rich and living in excess.

What is too much?

It’s difficult to define what is too much money. The Bible doesn’t give us an exact metric, but it does give us some pretty good ones. The James and Timothy passages above put us in the ballpark for knowing what is too much. From a biblical perspective, what matters seems to be what is needed to live (while considering the amount of time worked). Credentials or comparisons with godless organizations to determine what is "deserved" seems much more like the type of godless or worldly thinking that the Bible constantly warns us about.

We need certain things to live and flourish, but we don’t necessarily need the best or most expensive forms of those things. We need food, but we don’t need a steak (or two) every night. We need a home, but we don’t need to live in wealthy neighborhood with expensive add-ons and extra bedrooms that rarely get used. Once a person has what is needed to live with a fair level of leeway for what is “needed,” then everything else is extra. Keeping, spending, and in some cases, even accepting money above and beyond what is needed seems like a highly suggestive, but not definitive sign of greed and a love of money.

Most other people seem to agree with me. In a poll on Facebook (in an apologetics group) and Twitter, without knowing the background, most people didn't think it's appropriate for ministries to pay six-figure salaries to anyone (let alone apologists and theologians, who are teachers of the Word). I'm sure moer and more people would have said it's wrong if I couldn't have specified higher values ($150k, $200k, etc.) I think $100,000 is a decent guideline based on average U.S. incomes ($60k median), but it certainly shouldn't be used as a hard cutoff for what is and isn't an appropriate use of funds, especially when considering the cost of living in some areas.


You can use this calculator by Pew Research to see what constitutes lower, middle, and upper class to get an idea of what is "needed." Cost of living in a specific area, hours worked, what an individual person needs based on their circumstances (e.g. single mom vs. dual-income spouses with no children), percent of overall ministry funds allocated to a person's income, comparable salaries in related disciplines, and experience also need to be considered, although the last two factors are largely tainted by secular standards. Should Christians really be paying apologists and theologians comparable (or higher) salaries as speakers for the Freedom from Religion Foundation and Planned Parenthood...people who have no hope in God and who worship money and power?

Apologist Earnings

Below are the IRS records of what some ministries are paying their apologists, but we also need to consider additional sources of income such as speaking fees, book sales, investments, retirements, and others that do not come from the ministry they work for. Some of these funds might be routed through the ministry (particularly speaking fees), but others aren't so it adds a layer of complication which we likely cannot find out through public means so it's best the be gracious to the ministries while also not putting our heads in the sand. In some cases, the funds legally have to go to the apologist, but in other cases, they belong to the ministry and do not necessarily need to go to the apologist. In cases where the additional funds do not go through the ministry, the person is probably making a fair bit more money than the IRS documents show (this isn't a case of fraud but a limitation of the public records which only show what a ministry pays a person, not all the income a person makes).

With that said, here are the apologetics ministries whose pay scales are somewhere between concerning and appalling (mostly around or above $200k): RZIMCross Examined, Colson Center, Summit Ministries, Christian Research Institute, Answers in Genesis, Institute for Creation Research, and Discovery Institute. To check others, here's the IRS non-profit search page. On a side note, churches are exempt from 990 forms and don't have to report salaries, and sadly, some ministries are classifying themselves as churches so they don't have to report these figures anymore.

While we don't know what people are doing with their salaries, some of the people are living in 4,000+ sq ft., million-dollar homes so I'm skeptical that they're donating huge sums of money rather than living lavishly. Additionally, how many apologists have preached against the prosperity gospel, yet they're living similar lifestyles while hiding their riches. For the record, I looked up comparable Christian writers and speakers outside of apologetics (e.g. John Piper) and all the ones I looked up seemed to be living much more modestly.

If these salaries are not something to be ashamed of, why not publicly display them and make them known when unapologetically pleading for money from donors? If there is some sense of pride about what is "deserved" based on non-Christian standards, then why not stop taking donations for all ministry operations and build all this wealth through selling a product?

How to Respond

I'm going to write to these ministries and ask them to donate the money I've given them to more responsible ministries and/or suggest they drastically change their pay scales. Additionally, I will be hesitant to promote the work of these ministries in the future without very clear qualifications about how they spend their money. They may produce good content, but I don't feel comfortable knowing that I have friends who are struggling to get by but still make sacrifices to buy resources from and/or donate money to these ministries all while their leaders are getting rich. 

On a more positive note, some apologetics ministries do seem to be paying their leaders reasonable salaries (although their figures are debatable, especially if just consider raw numbers) while some apologists don't even accept donations (but may or may not still be getting very wealthy from the gospel). Other apologetics ministries didn't have data on the IRS site or were in more of a gray area. I want to hold people accountable but also be fair. I also want to share a FB comment on this article by Corey Miller, the President of Ratio Christi, (who is not making an excessive wage) for some additional insights about what goes into the 990 forms.

I hope this challenges some apologetics ministries to use their money more responsibly and encourages people to spend and donate money wisely. While saddening, it has also been an eye-opening and helpful experience to learn this information. I suspect most others will view this information in a similar way. I also want to make it clear that I think ministries should pay people a decent living wage and I would be just as critical of ministries that underpay. There needs to be a balance with a fair amount of grace given. I only pointed out the above ministries because their pay scales seem to be way out of proportion for what seems reasonable to me (and probably to many of their donors).

Put most bluntly, affluent clergy are never a match for the lay preachers and impoverished ascetics in head-to-head credibility contests.

Rodney Stark in The Rise of Christianity (p. 174)

Other Resources

You can also find financial information about non-profits from CauseIQCharity Navigator, or GuideStar. The Washington Post Income Calculator and U.S. Income Percentiles will be helpful for determining what makes a person "rich" and how a person's salary compares to others in the U.S. and throughout the rest of the world.

More scripture

 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)


1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ, who is your a life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. 5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry.

Colossians 3:1-5 (NIV)


17Join together in following my example, brothers and sisters, and just as you have us as a model, keep your eyes on those who live as we do. 18For, as I have often told you before and now tell you again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. Their mind is set on earthly things. 20But our citizenship is in heaven.

Philippians 3:17-20 (NIV)


 2Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.

Romans 12:2 (NIV)


 7For who makes you different from anyone else? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as though you did not?

1 Corinthians 4:7 (NIV)


30"Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.”

Mark 12:31 (NIV)


 14Even so the body is not made up of one part but of many.15Now if the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 16And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. 17If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? 18But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. 19If they were all one part, where would the body be? 20As it is, there are many parts, but one body. 21The eye cannot say to the hand, “I don’t need you!” And the head cannot say to the feet, “I don’t need you!” 22On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, 23and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, 24while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, 25so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. 26If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it.

1 Corinthians 12:14-26 (NIV)


24No one can serve two masters. Either you will hate the one and love the other, or you will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve both God and money.

Matthew 6:24 (NIV)

Sunday, September 13, 2020

Why I am (and am NOT) a Christian

It's been a while since I've written a classical apologetics article that gives evidence for Christianity so I thought I'd get back into it, but with a little twist. Rather than just present arguments and explain the reasons why I believe Christianity is true, I'll also explain the reasons that don't convince me that Christianity is true or don't bias me in that direction. In other words, I think there are good reasons to believe Christianity is true, but there are also a lot of popular reasons and arguments for Christianity that fail to show Christianity is true.

Please note that while this is a somewhat lengthy article, it is a very short explanation of each point. Entire books could be or have been written on each topic, sometimes even parts of each topic. Hopefully, the formatting allows you to scan for interesting parts and the content challenges you to think more robustly about the reasons for belief and unbelief.


Rejected Arguments

Let me start by explaining the reasons that did not factor into my conversion to Christianity and are not reasons that I remain a Christian. Even though they didn't/don't influence me, I still think some of these are good arguments, but for some, I don't think they are good arguments at all.

  1. Upbringing: I am not a Christian because I grew up as a Christian. For most my life I would have been best described as an anti-theist, atheist, agnostic, or apathetic deist. I had times where I didn't believe and times when I thought some sort of God existed, but I knew organized religion was stupid and false.
  2. Family & Friends: I am not a Christian because my family and friends were Christians and effectively evangelized me or made me feel loved. My immediate family did not believe and I had some relatives who were pretty self-righteous and I caused me to want nothing to do with Christianity. I never really had any Christian friends growing up, at least not committed ones. At the time of my conversion, the only real Christian I knew was my girlfriend and she didn't put any pressure on me to convert. My teammates and closest friends were similar to me in that they didn't really care about religion and if any of them believed, they didn't act like it.
  3. Comfort: I am not a Christian because it is psychologically or existentially comforting to me. When I converted, I wasn't afraid of death or in need of an ever-present friend. I was perfectly content with my life and the way it was headed.
  4. Spiritual Experience: I am not a Christian because I had a religious or spiritual experience. Since becoming a Christian, I have not had a religious experience, at least not in the way many people describe theirs, and so this is not something that keeps me in the faith either.
  5. Moral Boundaries: I did not become a Christian because I wanted moral boundaries. I was perfectly content with my moral values which allowed me to pretty much do whatever I wanted as long as it wasn't illegal, or more precisely, wasn't a major crime. In fact, I was always a bit rebellious so an external set of moral rules was a barrier to faith for me and something that I didn't initially accept fully when I did convert.
  6. Ease: I am not a Christian because it makes my life easy. Being a Christian has caused me to give up a lot of comforts in my life so and do a lot of things that create additional work for me with little to no earthly benefit, but I do them because it's a way to love God and others.
  7. Moral Argument: I am not a Christian because I was persuaded by the moral argument. I do think it's a valid argument, but I don't think that the premise "objective moral exist" can be supported without just blindly accepting it. Moreover, I was perfectly comfortable accepting that there is no objective morality so I felt no need to accept this argument.
  8. Ontological Argument: I am not a Christian because of the ontological argument and to this day, I still do not think it's a sound argument.
  9. Arguments from Consciousness: I don't remember if this argument played a role in my conversion or not, but I no longer think it's a sound argument so it is not a factor that keeps me in the faith.
  10. Arguments from Free Will: Same as the argument from consciousness.
  11. Transcendental Arguments: I've never been convinced of these arguments and am still not convinced.
  12. Meaning: I am not a Christian because I needed meaning in my life. I had plenty of meaning in my life before I converted. Now that I am a Christian, I have shaped my meaning around Christianity, but I would have no problem changing the meaning of my life if I left the faith.
  13. Purpose: Same as meaning.
  14. Near-Death Experiences: There are some amazing near-death experiences of people seeing and hearing things they shouldn't have been able to see or hear while they were dead. However, I think there are plausible naturalistic explanations for these, at least the ones I've read about. I'm not convinced the near-death experiences are naturalistic or supernatural events. I lean toward natural explanations as a default, but I'm fairly agnostic on them and admittedly haven't studied them in great depth.
  15. Modern Miracles: Like near-death experiences, there are some amazing stories of modern miracles. When I converted, I don't remember being aware of any convincing miracles that couldn't be easily explained naturalistically. I am very skeptical of most miracles claims and think they're just people being ignorant. Even so, there are a few I've come across that I think are actual miracles; however, I don't really feel the force of them as arguments that keep me in the faith.
  16. Ignorance & Confirmation Bias: Most people just adopt their beliefs about God from their parents and friends with little or no attempts to learn about different religious beliefs, gain knowledge, critically evaluate their beliefs, or avoid confirmation bias. I explicitly tried to do avoid these errors before I converted. I admit that I was still rather ignorant compared to where I am now and what I still don't know, but I have consistently tried to make sure I am equally critical of Christianity (which is why I reject so many arguments that others accept) and that I take the time to truly understand opposing views before rejecting them (which is why I speak more favorably about their views).
  17. Benefits of Religion: The science of religious belief overwhelmingly shows that religious belief is beneficial. There are some exceptions, as there are with just about everything, but that doesn't negate all the positives. When I converted, I wasn't aware of all this research so it didn't influence me. Now that I'm aware of it and actually study it scientifically, I expect this result if Christianity is true, but at the same time, I think it can be explained naturalistically so it's not an argument that keeps me in the faith. The one caveat I would add though is that religion does seem uniquely able to satisfy some human needs in ways that politics, sports, and other social clubs cannot. Therefore, I'd argue that even if a person doesn't believe in God, they should participate in religion (ideally some form of Christianity because it meets a greater range of human needs but I can only support that theoretically at this time, not empirically) and even explicitly try to believe to avoid cognitive dissonance (see below for more on this).
  18. Pascal's Wager: This argument, if we could even call it that, gets a bad wrap and is often misunderstood. It didn't influence my conversion and doesn't keep me in the faith because there is enough to convince me that Christianity is true without it. However, it's still a valid statistical analysis of the consequences of unbelief, at least if the other arguments put Christianity anywhere in the ballpark of being true. In response to Pascal's Wager, people often say they can't make themselves believe, but this sentiment seems inconsistent with the psychological science on self-deception, confirmation bias, cognitive dissonance, motivated reasoning, and in extreme cases, Stockholm syndrome. Don't misunderstand what I'm saying here. People shouldn't intentionally try to induce some sort of Stockholm syndrome to induce religious belief because they fear hell. What I'm saying is that if you look at the evidence and arguments, yet still remain undecided, then the rational choice is to decide to belief and structure your actions in accordance with belief.
  19. Being a Christian: Obviously, being a Christian did not impact my conversion, but I don't think it keeps me in the faith either. Seminary was paid for, and even if it wasn't, it would be a sunk cost, I don't make much money as an apologist, and I think the Bible calls us to give generously so there are no financial reasons for me to stay committed to Christianity. Going to church, meeting with other believers, studying the Bible and apologetics, prayer, and doing ministry all stake up a lot of time which I could use in more self-serving ways so that doesn't keep me in the faith. I enjoy my friendships with other believers, but those friendships are no more fulfilling than relationships I've had with non-believers. On the other hand, considering my education and experiences, I could probably make more money as an atheist apologist and receive more accolades from a greater number of people if I left the faith. Perhaps there would be some strain on my marriage and other inconveniences, but overall, I think there are more worldly advantages for me if I were to leave the faith, which means the fact that I am a Christian likely doesn't bias me to remain one.
It may seem odd that I listed and explained all these reasons why I don't believe, but this is important for a couple reasons. First, this process is an important way to avoid bias, particularly confirmation bias and in-group bias. If a person is unable to show critical thought toward their own group, it's likely they are ignorant of alternatives or have been blinded by bias. Specifically for me, I have a unique ministry and background. There are only a handful of other apologists with graduate-level training in psychology and as far as I know, none who do research related to the psychology of religion or bias. Because of my research emphasis, other people will likely be more critical of my ministry work and more likely to point out any hints of bias in what I write or say.

Good Arguments
Despite all the arguments for Christianity that I reject, I am a Christian because there are still good arguments for Christianity. I'm not going to throw the baby out with the bathwater just because bad arguments exist (or because bad Christians exist, but that's a separate topic). These are the arguments or pieces of evidence that I think successfully show that God exists or Christianity is true.
  1. The universe & its beginning: The universe doesn't have to exist. There could be nothing instead of something. Obviously, it has to exist for us to be here to think about its existence, but that doesn't mean it doesn't require an explanation. Moreover, the universe could have started to exist and then ceased, but I'll get into that in the next point. Not only does the universe exist, but it is finite and came into existence. The Kalam cosmological argument says that 1.) everything that begins has a cause, 2.) the universe began to exist, 3) therefore, the universe had a cause. I will admit that I don't think this is the perfect, irrefutable argument that it's often presented to be by many apologists, but it's much better than alternative explanations which typically require the acceptance of an infinite regress of time or causes or they require magic. The Kalam has problems, but an immaterial, uncaused, (relatively) timeless, spaceless cause to the universe seems to be the best explanation, which means atheism, Buddhism, Hinduism, Latter-Day Saints, Pagan religions, Confucianism, Shintoism, and any other view that requires an actual infinite is almost certainly not true.
  2. Teleological Arguments: These arguments appeal to the design of the universe. I initially accepted them when I converted, became unconvinced, and after I gained a better understanding of the argument and the incredibly improbable odds, then I became convinced again. The conditions of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and our planet all had to be precisely finely tuned and occur at the right time in the history of the universe to support life. Essentially, we won the cosmic lottery, which I doubt anyone would deny, but the probability of all these factors is so small that it might as well be impossible. Imagine every atom in the universe was black and one single atom was white. It would be like randomly choose the one white atom several times in a row. Moreover. the beginning of life and each stage in evolution requires us to win another cosmic lottery that is just as improbable. You would never believe I didn't cheat if I won the lottery three times in a row by buying a single ticket each time, yet the comic lottery would be liking winning 100 times in a row. An intelligent, powerful Creator seems like a better a much better explanation than luck. Is this God of the gaps? Yes and no. No in the sense that this conclusion is based on inference to the best option in the same way that I can infer my computer was made by a mind even though I didn't see it get made and it could theoretically have come into existence through natural processes. Moreover, as we learn more about the universe, the more improbable our universe becomes (i.e. the "gap" keeps growing). However, it is God of the gaps in the sense there are gaps in our knowledge regarding the laws of nature and the complexities of life. I don't see this as a problem because we use the same reasoning process to fill gaps in our knowledge to convict criminals of crimes and posit other scientific theories.
  3. Moral Superiority: This argument is a bit of a different twist than the typical moral argument. If I were to develop a moral system apart from God, I would create a system that gives humans intrinsic values and respects individual rights while also expecting people to sacrifice for others and live virtuously. Atheists have proposed similar moral systems, and they are right for doing so; however, it is only a Judeo/Christian worldview that can give a rational justification for such a system. At some point, atheists are required to stand their moral system on a blind assertion that cannot be supported with reason or evidence but just has to be assumed. On the other hand, other religions can ground morality in theory, but the set of beliefs within these systems are inconsistent and/or conflict with science and reason. Additionally, Christian ethics seem to correspond amazingly well with innate biological and social human tendencies. Just one example is the secular science of sex seems to show that the biblical guidelines on sex lead to the best outcomes for marriage and mental health (not to mention the effects on the spread of diseases and parenting). To be fair, some of this type of research may be due to cultural norms so that the effects could go away if sexual norms change; however, we can't draw conclusions on what might happen and the effects make sense of our biology, which likely wouldn't be as flexible to change due to social norms.
  4. OT Prophecy: The OT makes some accurate predictions about the future, specifically about the Messiah, which has led some critics to suggest the texts were added to after the events occurred, but the Dead Sea Scrolls have made many of those objections obsolete. Still, the prophecies are not very specific and are shrouded in symbolic texts, suggesting maybe they weren't really prophecies, but at the same time, it does seem that the first century Jews were expecting the Messiah to come during their time. These prophecies played a small role in my conversion, but after my increased skepticism over the last 15 years, I'm fairly agnostic about these. Maybe OT prophecies about the Messiah are legitimate interpretations and maybe they aren't, but I just don't know enough about this topic to have a firm conclusion. I do know that the text itself was not changed after the fact so it's only a matter of interpretation that I am uncertain about.
  5. NT Reliability: Biblical reliability is a huge topic, so my emphasis here is on NT reliability (which is still a pretty big topic). Commons objections that the Bible has been corrupted, added to, has had stuff removed, and has been translated through multiple languages are easily refuted with just a little bit of basic research. The Bibles we have today, especially the NT, almost certainly match what was originally written. There are thousands of ancient manuscripts to compare to each other to see if there have been changes plus hundreds if not thousands of times where early church writers quote the NT as another comparison. Moreover, what was originally written has an excellent record of reliably recording actual historical events and was written within a historically short period after the resurrection. While it's possible that some exaggerations crept in or some facts were misreported, the alternate explanations for the resurrection all seem much more implausible, especially when considering the above arguments.
I know that was a lot so thanks for reading or browsing. If you have any thoughts, I'd be happy to hear them in the comments or on social media. I'd be particularly interested to hear thoughts about the factors that don't influence me to believe. Thanks again.

Sunday, September 6, 2020

List of Decision-Making Factors and Biases for Apologetics

In one of my apologetics presentations, I ask the audience to shout out as many logical fallacies as they can in 15 seconds and they usually list about seven. I then ask them to shout out all the psychological biases that they can and I almost say confirmation bias and nothing else. People generally seem more aware of fallacies and correctly recognize them as errors in reasoning, but few people are aware of the huge number of psychological factors that affect our every decision.

When I first started studying psychology and apologetics, I thought that people were rational beings. I quickly discovered that we are not as rational as we think. However, it wasn't until years of studying bias and experience interacting with people that helped me realize that people are far from rational. Here's the thing though: we can be rational, but when it comes to topics like religion, politics, or any other emotionally charged topic, it requires a lot of hard work to be rational. We need the patience to withhold premature judgments, we need the courage to confront our emotions and challenge the standard view of our social groups, and we need the humility to admit we might be wrong or ignorant.

Below is a list of all the broadly accepted psychological factors I could find that influence our reasoning, usually in a non-rational way. Most, if not all of these biases are unconscious so we cannot even know if they are affecting us. We know they exist because of clever experiments by psychologists. These are the factors we must overcome when we make decisions and the factors we need to help others avoid when doing apologetics. What's especially interesting about these is after people are made aware of these factors, they almost always say it didn't have an effect on them, but the data do not lie.

What's unique about this list compared to others you might find on the internet is that I use illustrations that present these in the context of apologetics and I've cross-referenced each factor with related ones and fallacies.
Image result for bias
Please let me know if you think others should be added or if something is unclear. This list is meant to be a reference for myself and anyone else who wants to use it.

Affect Heuristic - Then tendency to rely on our current emotions to make quick decisions. Disgust is particularly powerful for moral decisions. When we make decisions based on our emotions, we usually come up with posthoc (after the fact) reasons for our decision.
    - Same or nearly the same intuitive cognitive style
    - Related to an appeal to emotions

Anchoring Effect - When we have a value or representation in our mind, this becomes the standard for which we judge other options, even if it's arbitrary. In other words, this value or belief becomes your anchor for how you judge other things in relation.
    - Same or nearly the same as arbitrary coherence.
    - Related to framing and priming.

Apophenia - the tendency to see patterns, meaning, or connections in randomness. Essentially, this is seeing shapes in clouds or finding hidden codes in the Bible. In apologetics, believers are accused of this when they claim there is design in the universe. However, the same critique can be aimed at evolution so both sides need to make a case that they are not falling victim to this bias.
    - Same or nearly the same as agenticity, paternicity, the clustering illusion, hot-hand fallacy, and pareidolia.
    - Related to the false cause fallacy (aka causal fallacy), gambler's fallacy

Arbitrary Coherence - the tendency to form a coherent view or argument based on an arbitrary value. Once an arbitrary value is accepted, people tend to act coherently based on that value.
    - Same or nearly the same as the anchoring effect.
    - Related to framing, and priming.

Availability Heuristic - The tendency to make decisions or draw conclusions based on the data that we hear about most often or most recently instead of a systematic comparison of all the data.
    - Same or nearly the same as base rate fallacy.
    - Related to the false-consensus effect, cherry-picking (fallacy), selective attention, selective perception

Backfire Effect - When a person moves farther away from a view after hearing an argument for it. This is probably the best explanation for why neither person usually changes their mind when debating religion, politics, or other heated topics.
    - Same or nearly the same as belief perseverance and group polarization.
    - Related to belief bias, confirmation bias, reactance.

Bandwagon Effect - The tendency to prefer popular options. People might be hesitant to become a committed Christian because they don't see many other people who are.

    - Same or nearly the same as an appeal to the majority.

    - Related to the bystander effect, false-consensus effect, individualism (contrasts), mere exposure, reactance (contrasts).

Base Rate Fallacy - The tendency to ignore the base (average) probability of something occurring in favor of new or readily available information. An example of this is when someone points to a mutation as evidence for evolution but neglects the extremely low average rate of beneficial mutations, especially beneficial mutations that insert new information into the genome.

    - Same or nearly the same as the availability heuristic

    - Related to the cherry-picking (fallacy), hot-hand fallacy, regression to the mean, representativeness heuristic.

Belief Bias - The tendency to evaluate arguments based on what we already believe rather than the strength of the premises. In other words, to rationalize, ignore, or misunderstand argument that would disprove what we already believe. If we believe a conclusion, then we will deny any premises that do not support our conclusion without careful consideration of them.

    - Same or nearly the same as rationalization.

    - Related to affirming the consequent (fallacy), belief perseverance, confirmation bias, and straw-man fallacy.

Belief Perseverance - The tendency to maintain a belief even in the face of contrary evidence.

    - Same or nearly the same as belief perseverance and group polarization.

    - Related to belief bias, confirmation bias

Blindspot Bias – The tendency for people to see themselves as less susceptible to biases than other people. This one is more likely to affect people with high IQ or education. Anecdotally, I've noticed that people who have converted or deconverted as an adult tend to be guilty of this by thinking they have transcended above bias.

    - Same or nearly the same as self-serving bias.

    - Related to belief bias, belief perseverance, confirmation bias.

Bystander Effect - The tendency to not respond to a situation when there is a crowd of people also not responding. When we see a car on the side of the road, we don't stop to help because nobody else is stopping to help. This effect happens because we don't want to stand out, rationalize that we might not be needed, or we actually think we might be wrong and everyone else is right. In apologetics and theology, this is when we see other people accepting sinful behaviors so we don't try to stop it (if and when we are in the proper role to do so).

    - Same or nearly the same as an appeal to the majority (fallacy) or bandwagon fallacy.

    - Related to the availability heuristic, false-consensus effect, normalization, the spotlight effect, systematic desensitization.

Cognitive Ease - We are more likely to accept something or like it if it is easy to process. This includes the content, the way the content is presented, and the medium used to present it. Using a clear font when writing, speaking loud enough for people to hear, high-resolution video, and simplifying a complex concept are just a few ways to take advantage of this bias.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to mere exposure

Cognitive Dissonance - The uncomfortable feeling we get when we have inconsistent beliefs or when our actions do not align with our beliefs. When our actions and beliefs are inconsistent, we usually change our minds to align with our beliefs because they are more observable so people won't recognize our hypocrisy. This can be used in apologetics to show that a person's moral concerns (environmentalism, politics, human rights, etc.) do not align with their beliefs because there is no objective morality without God.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to

Commitment Bias - The tendency to stick with what we're already doing or already believe even when new evidence suggests we should change. Anyone with a firm commitment to their current beliefs about God is susceptible to this.

    - Same or nearly the same as escalation of commitment, hasty generalization (fallacy), premature cognitive commitment, sunk cost fallacy.

    - Related to appeal to authority, backfire effect, foot-in-the-door technique, self-herding, status-quo bias

Compensatory Control - When we lose control in one situation or domain, we try to compensate by gaining control in another area. During an election year when there is political uncertainty, religious people tend to view God as being more in control than during non-election years. We gain compensatory control through work, routine, parenting, and many other domains.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to attachment

Confirmation Bias - This is has become a fairly broad term to describe any bias, action, or thing that helps us confirm what we already believe. It can take the form of looking only for confirmatory evidence (as opposed to evidence that potentially disproves our view), forgetting or ignoring evidence that doesn't support our view, or interpreting evidence in a twisted way to fit our view.

    - Same or nearly the same as belief bias, belief perseverance, myside bias

    - Related to the availability heuristic, backfire effect, cherry-picking (fallacy), and pretty much everything else.

Contrast Effect - The tendency to judge something in comparison to something that came immediately before it. If you give an argument or a presentation after someone else, the quality of what you say will be judged in comparison to the person who spoke before you. This can help and hurt in apologetics depending on the person who went before you. This can apply to the quality of your videos, the design of your website, interviews, in-person or online conversations, and just about anywhere else.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to anchoring, arbitrary coherence


Decision Fatigue - As we make more and more choices throughout the day, we become more mentally fatigued and less willing to put in the cognitive effort to make careful decisions. Whether this effect exists is highly debated. A recent paper suggests it does exist, just not as broadly as originally thought. In apologetics, this may come into play if you ask too many hard questions of someone. They may just get tired of answering and stop trying, in which case they may just leave, resort to name-calling, or answer without thinking (see other biases).

    - Same or nearly the same as ego depletion

    - Related to

Decoy Effect - When there are two competitive options, the decoy option is like one of them but less desirable, making the one it is like seem best. For instance, if I am selling you a burger with fries for $5 and a chicken sandwich with fries for $5, I can add a decoy to make one sell better than the other. If I have a bunch of burgers about to go bad, I can give the option for a burger only for $4.50, making the burger with fries seem most desirable. I suspect this might be part of why some people are spiritual but not religious. They are essentially choosing between to choose between atheism, religion without rules, and religion with rules, and for many people, organized religion serves as the decoy to nudge people towards spiritualism rather than atheism. I should note that this is just a hypothesis of mine or a potential application of this effect.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to anchoring

Drop-in-the-Bucket Effect - The tendency to do nothing when our resources cannot make a significant impact on fixing a problem. I sometimes fail to use this when I talk about adoption. I cite the vast numbers of kids who need help, which is a problem no single person can fix, and so people aren't motivated to get involved. If I focused more on individual children who need help, people would be more likely to be moved and do something to help that child. In apologetics, this is important to remember when you talk about moral issues. People will be much more concerned if there is an identifiable victim.


    - Same or nearly the same as identifiable victim effect

    - Related to vividness, vagueness

Dunning-Kruger Effect - My favorite bias because I think it explains so much of the world. This is the tendency for people with minimal knowledge or experience in an area to have extremely high confidence in their ability in that area. As they gain genuine expertise, their confidence dips down before starting to climb again. This is apologetics. Almost everyone thinks they are an expert on religion and science so when you try to have an apologetics conversation, they are unwilling to listen or consider what is said because they view themselves as the expert. The original paper for this is called "Unskilled and Unaware."

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to humility (opposite), straw-man (fallacy),


Ego Depletion - See the comment above for decision fatigue. They're the same. The only possible difference is that ego depletion is stated in terms of will power and compares it to a muscle that can be fatigued in the short-term but can be trained to grow stronger over time. The issue with this effect is that it doesn't always show up when expected, which made people say it's not a real effect. The research shows that essentially it can easily be overcome, so if that's the case, is it a real thing. The solution seems to be that it affects whether we decide to put forth cognitive effort for a decision. If we do put in the effort, there's no effect, but if we decide not to put in effort, we become very prone to any number of other biases listed here.

    - Same or nearly the same as decision fatigue

    - Related to

Endowment Effect - The tendency to overvalue something we own simply because it's ours. Our stuff has memories and emotions attached to it which other people don't see or value. The basic idea seems to apply to worldviews, religious practices, personal sins, and social groups too. These things are ours and are part of us and we don't want to give them up easily.

    - Same or nearly the same as mere ownership effect.

    - Related to commitment bias

False Consensus Effect - The tendency to think something is more normal than it really is. The classic example is premarital sex in high school. People, especially high school students, think "everyone is doing it," but the research shows that more than half of high school students are still virgins when they graduate. The most prevalent example for apologetics is the tendency people have to think scientists or intellectuals are more atheistic than they really are.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to the availability heuristic, appeal to the majority (fallacy)

Focusing Effect - The tendency for people to focus on a small detail or one aspect of something instead of the overall picture. In common words, it's losing the forest for the trees. This happens in apologetics when people get hung up on details that are often irrelevant or they are unwilling to move beyond a certain issue. For instance, a skeptic may focus so heavily on evil that they are unwilling to recognize the broader point that there is no such thing as evil without a moral lawgiver or that there are other arguments that show God exists.

    - Same or nearly the same as the availability heuristic, cherry-picking (fallacy)

    - Related to affect heuristic, confirmation bias, red herring (fallacy)

Forer Effect - The tendency for people to accept very broad or generalized statements about their personality as being uniquely true of them as opposed to recognizing they are largely true of most people. This basically explains the current trendiness of the enneagram, even though it is no scientifically valid. This may play a role in apologetics because people might be susceptible to view themselves in a way that could be beneficial or harmful for apologetics conversations. Trying to prime people to view themselves as rational, careful thinkers, respectful people, and so on, can help set up conversations so they are more effective.

    - Same or nearly the same as the Barnum effect

    - Related to the availability heuristic, confirmation bias, self-serving bias

Framing Effect - The way something is presented, or framed, can affect our conclusions about it. For instance, 99% effective sounds better than saying only fails 1% of the time. In one of my presentations, I show a clip from Brain Games where a cop asks witnesses how fast a car was going when it bumped/smashed into the other vehicle. By changing just one word, witnesses report drastically different speeds. In apologetics, our words matter. When we frame another worldview as ridiculous, those who agree with us and some in the middle will likely find it very convincing; however, unbelievers will feel as though we're not honestly representing their view and disregard what we say. Another example is how we present Christianity. Do we present it in a positive light so people want to follow it or are we simply known for all the things we're against? People are more prone to accept something, or at least listen when it is presented in a mostly positive way (not to say you can't or shouldn't mention the struggles of being a Christian).

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to affect heuristic, appeal to emotions (fallacy), arbitrary coherence, fundamental attribution error (FAE)

Functional Fixedness - This is the tendency for people to view something only for it's intended purposes, preventing us from seeing alternative uses. The ability to break this pattern is what made Macgyver popular. In other words, this bias is thinking inside the box, so the antidote (as if it's just that easy) is to think outside the box. In apologetics, I find people sometimes have a fixed view of what Christianity is or what their identity is ("I'm a doctor and doctors aren't religious") which prevents them from seeing Jesus. If you notice this might be an issue, it's easy to overcome as long as you don't point it out in a condescending way.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to the availability heuristic, creativity, confirmation bias

Fundamental Attribution Error (FAE) - This is when we make an error in attributing something to someone or something. Usually, it's used to refer to blaming people (personal attribution) for things that were not within their control, or not completely within their control, and then we often associate the act with their character. If you cut someone off in traffic, even if it was an emergency or the unknowingly swerved into your lane, they will likely blame you for it and if you have a Jesus sticker on your car, they'll pass that judgment onto Him. Similarly, if you make a mistake about a fact (or they think you make a mistake), they will attribute that to your character and probably your intelligence. This is why it's extremely important to be careful with our words, fact check everything, and speak to others with grace.

    - Same or nearly the same as correspondence bias

    - Related to false cause fallacy (aka causal fallacy), confirmation bias, hasty generalization (fallacy), self-serving bias

Group Polarization - The tendency for the views of two groups to move further apart after discussing the topic. The obvious example is politics. Let's say a group of democrats and republicans have slightly different views on a topic when they start a conversation about it. After the conversation, they will likely move further apart. This happens for a variety of reasons, some rational and some not. Talking about the issue may help them think about it more, helping them realize their previous view was inconsistent or poorly thought out. However, it may also be due to knee-jerk reactions against the other group, an unwillingness to compromise and seem weak, following a charismatic leader, or many other reasons. In apologetics, this can happen in group discussions between Christians and other groups or during debates. To overcome this, it's important to be respectful of others and build relationships so they don't view you as an enemy who needs to be defeated. It's very hard for someone to agree with a person they view as an enemy, even when it's common sense. We have an automatic reaction to disagree with enemies or people we don't like.

    - Same or nearly the same as the backfire effect

    - Related to affect heuristic, commitment bias, conformity, groupthink, ingroup/outgroup bias, liking, obedience to authority

Groupthink - When groups have a strong desire to conform or be unified, they have a tendency to accept ideas too quickly and without critical though, leading to bad decisions. This can also happen when the group leader or the environment punishes dissent. This is different than ingroup bias or group polarization in the sense that it stems from a desire within the group to get along and an unwillingness to risk the consequences of dissent (notice how I didn't name specific errors I think many Christians make theologically 😉). This is hard to get around in social media because if someone does speak out against their side, they are criticized by both sides. If they see someone else do it, they often don't want to stick their neck out in support so they might passively like something or just refuse to comment about it.

    - Same or nearly the same as conformity

    - Related to commitment bias, false-consensus effect, hasty generalization (fallacy), in-group/out-group bias


Halo Effect - This is the tendency for us to globalize a positive attribute of a person from one domain to another. For instance, if someone is physically attractive (or any other noticeable positive attribute), we're more likely to rate them as more intelligent, more competent, more trustworthy, and so on. While this effect solely focuses on positive attributes, the same applies to negatives so that if a negative attribute stands out to someone, they are more likely to apply that to us in other domains too. This is why it's extremely important in apologetics and evangelism to make good first impressions with people, to speak respectfully, dress and look respectable (not to be confused with being vain), be kind, and so on. People are much more likely to listen to apologetic arguments or the gospel if something about us (or many things) stands out as being very positive.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to affect bias, availability heuristic, Dunning-Kruger effect, first impressions, hasty generalization (fallacy), liking, representativeness heuristic

Hawthorne Effect - This is when people change their behavior when they're aware of being watched or think they're being watched. It's obvious that this happens, at least to some degree, but people sometimes underestimate how big the effect is and how easy it is to invoke it. Some studies have found that simply putting a picture of a face in certain places can get people to act better, although the effectiveness of this small of an intervention is debated. This is seen in public conversations such as on social media or other public venues because people are more likely to stick with their group's views on a topic rather than seriously consider other views for fear of being condemned by their group.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to group polarization, ingroup/outgroup bias, self-serving bias

Hedonic Adaptation/Treadmill - The tendency for people to adapt to things that are enjoyable so that it becomes their new expected standard. For instance, if you won the lottery, you would be ecstatic but you would slowly return to your previous levels of happiness, and worse, expect your quality of life to always remain the same so that you would be disappointed getting less than you had previously. If you buy a nice car, you will get used to the comforts and advantages of it so that when it comes time for a new car, you will expect the same or better, even if you don't really need all the luxuries. The application is more theological than apologetics. When we become accustomed to the comforts of American life, we tend to be calloused toward people around the world who aren't so well-off and we become unwilling to make sacrifices in our life for them. This affects how people view us when we do apologetics, but also the amount of time we spend studying or doing apologetics (or Bible study, prayer, etc.). When we become accustomed to Netflix xx hours per week, it's hard for us to give that up so that we can read, do evangelism, serve the poor, etc. We then rationalize that we somehow deserve such rest because we work so hard at other times (we should indeed rest, but we don't need nearly as much as the American lifestyle affords us).

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to anchoring, halo effect, identifiable victim bias.

Herding - The tendency to follow the crowd as if we are a herd. This is a very useful heuristic, especially in unfamiliar places (e.g. traveling to a new country), but it can often lead to false conclusions. Many people have false views about Christianity because of this. They get their theology from popular media sources, leading them to think Christianity is intellectually bankrupt and faith is blind, and so they just go along with the crowd. This especially relates to sexuality and gender.

    - Same or nearly the same as the appeal the majority, bandwagon fallacy, false-consensus effect

    - Related to in-group/out-group bias, self-herding

Hindsight Bias - The tendency to look at events from the past as having been obviously predictable.  In other words, we look at past things with blinders on due to changes in culture or increased knowledge about something. We look at slavery as wrong today, and rightfully so, but because it's so culturally ingrained in us, skeptics sometimes have a hard time understanding slavery that is discussed in the Bible.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to affect bias, availability heuristic

Hot-Hand Fallacy - This is often discussed in terms of basketball, which is how it was discovered. Researchers found that when a person is perceived to be on a hot streak and observers think that person is more likely to make the next shot; however, the data shows this is not the case. The relevance to this in apologetics is that our immediate intuitions are not always correct. When looking at rates of abortion, effects of gun control, crime and religiosity, and so on, we can't just cite a statistic and give a simple explanation (this goes for people on all sides). Sometimes the obvious conclusion is correct, but we need to look around for other data and the best explanation for something.

    - Same or nearly the same as apophenia, regression to the mean.

    - Related to blindspot bias



Identifiable Victim Effect - The tendency to be more compassionate toward a single person in need rather than a large group of people. Even though it seems like we should be more heart-broken over a million starving people than just one, the research shows we are more likely to act and give more for a single person than for a group. This is why many charities will feature a single person in need rather than a whole group.

    - Same or nearly as

    - Related to drop-in-the-bucket effect, vividness, vagueness


Ikea Effect - When we place more value or importance on something that we build. In apologetics, if you tell someone the evidence for Christianity and give them the answer, they are likely to feel like your answer is not as good as theirs because they did not come up with it, and therefore, they will resist you. A better approach might be to tell people of certain facts or create hypotheticals based on the facts and then ask them to come to a conclusion based on those facts.

    - Same or nearly the same as the endowment effect, mere ownership effect, not-invented-here (NIH) effect

    - Related to the genetic fallacy

Illusion of Control - The tendency to overestimate our ability to control things. This affects Christians who might think they have more control over another person's beliefs than they actually do. This seems to part of the equation for people who want to push for government laws restricting behaviors that do not align with Christianity with the assumption that it will be more effective than it actually is. This is not saying there isn't a place for laws restricting certain behaviors, but it's the overestimate of the effectiveness of these laws that is the bias.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to the apophenia, compensatory control, gambler's fallacy, superstition,

Illusory Truth Effect - The tendency to believe false information is true after hearing it over and over again. Essentially, it's not the correctness that is remembered, but the content, so when people recall it, they remember it as true, unless of course they explicitly recognized it as false and argued against it. The main takeaway for apologetics is that people are likely to reject apologetic arguments when they're new to them. This means we don't need to be pushy or overbearing with people. We can and should take the long view and give them a little something to chew on time and time again. The goal isn't to get them to believe false information, but to help remove an emotional barrier to something that seems new and strange.

    - Same or nearly the same as mere exposure effect

    - Related to the appeal to the majority, false-consensus effect

Imagination Inflation - We tend to slowly exaggerate past events more and more over time. This is why we joke about fisherman bragging about the giant fish they caught way back in the day. This is a legitimate objection for atheists to the resurrection that needs to be seriously dealt with by believers. However, the mechanisms of this effect are not nearly powerful to explain the resurrection. The inflation happens along a slowly progressing continuum and the resurrection requires large leaps of imagination.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to false memories

Inattentional Blindness or Selective Attention - Strictly speaking, this is more of a perceptual error when we are so fixated on one thing, we miss surrounding cues. If you've ever seen the gorilla basketball video, that's an example of this. However, the same general thing occurs when we are so sure we are correct about something that we just blatantly miss or don't remember things that oppose our view. This is likely why atheists so often use incorrect definitions of faith or repeat the same misunderstandings about the kalam (e.g. who created God) even after they've been corrected. The correction just doesn't register with them because they're so sure they're right. On the other hand, I see apologetics get so fixated on pedantic details of an objection to Christianity and lose the whole point of what the other person was saying.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to the availability heuristic, belief bias, confirmation bias

Identifiable Victim Effect - The tendency to give more resources to a single person in need rather than a large group of people in need. This is why charities typically show a single person in need in their ads rather than a whole group of people suffering. For apologetics, talking about the 120+ people killed by atheists in the 20th century is less powerful than focusing on a single victim in greater detail. Ideally, both points would be made for the greatest impact.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to closeness, drop-in-the-bucket effect, vividness

Individualism - This is more of a cultural or personality factor, but it definitely biases our decision making. For people in individualistic cultures or people high on an individualistic scale (similar to reactance), anything that appears to violate their personal freedom will be viewed negatively. Politically, this correlates with libertarian and conservative views, which is where I get the sense that many apologists align. This should cause some apologists to question whether they've really based some of their theological and political views on Jesus or if it's more based on their desire for individualism. I'm not saying their views are wrong; only that they should be carefully scrutinized. In apologetics, this is often the underlying reason people so strongly revolt against God's moral standard, because they don't want to be told what to do, even by an all-knowing, all-loving God.

    - Same and nearly the same as reactance

    - Related to reactance conformity collectivism

In-group/Out-group Biases - These are two different biases, but they're often used to describe the same thing and used interchangeably. The reason is that they're just two sides of the same coin. We are biased in favor of our own group and against other groups. When someone from our own group does something good, we apply it generally to the group as the norm and claim it as an example of the individual's character or competence. When someone from the ingroup does something bad, we rationalize it or we blame it on the individual. The opposite happens with the outgroup. When a member of the outgroup does something good, we apply it only to the individual as an exception to the norm or we try to explain it away as being a product the situation or not all that good after all. When someone from the outgroup does something bad, we apply it to the whole group and view it as the norm. Apologetics is a quintessential example of ingroup/outgroup behaviors. People on all sides are guilty of jumping on the bandwagon of bad arguments and rationalizing. About the only thing you can do is to be aware of this bias so you can try to avoid falling into it yourself and work on building relationships with people in the outgroups so they don't view you as an adversary.

    - Same or nearly the same as self-serving bias (but applied to groups)

    - Related to the appeal to the bandwagon effect, fundamental attribution error, liking, the majority (fallacy)

Liking - When we like someone, we're much more likely to listen to them, be persuaded by them, give them the benefit of the doubt, and so on. If you want to be a more effective apologist, be kind and respectful of others and they will be much more likely to listen.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to affect bias, the halo effect, ingroup/outgroup biases

Loss Aversion - The tendency for potential losses to play a bigger role in our decisions than potential gains. This is likely why people are more willing to settle with what they have than risk losing it for something better. Worldviews are an excellent example. If a person has a worldview that seems to work, and they have a group of friends who share that worldview, they are not easily going to risk giving that up for Christianity. They will fight to show that their worldview is better and even if you can show Christianity is a better worldview, they may not be willing to accept it.

    - Same or nearly the same as negativity bias

    - Related to the affect heuristic, availability heuristic, belief bias, confirmation bias, endowment effect, mere ownership effect, sunk cost fallacy, and status quo bias

Mandela Effect - This is when someone misremembers something, such as Nelson Mandela dying (how the effect was named), and then a large number of people believe it. It's spread to broad cultural norms and details of pop-culture. There's actually several online tests you can take to demonstrate this effect and give you a better idea of what it is. Here's just one of them. This is perhaps one of the strongest arguments against Christianity, specifically the resurrection, but critics don't use it It's better than the swoon theory, hallucination theory, and all other attempts to explain away the resurrection, but it still falls short. This effect can't explain eye-witness accounts, the reports of Paul and the apostles performing miracles in the name of Jesus, and it doesn't take into account the memory ability of people in the first century.

    - Same or nearly the same as DRM procedure, false memories

    - Related to imagination inflation

Mere Exposure - This is the tendency to be more willing to accept things that we've been exposed to before. In other words, new things (like evidence for Christianity) are strange to us and seem unlikely to be true so we reject them. Don't expect people, even other Christians, to accept the arguments for Christianity the first time they hear them. They'll likely need several exposures to the idea of rational faith and evidence before they'll be open to accepting it.
    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to

Mere Ownership Effect - The tendency to overvalue items that we own. This is studied with physical objects by seeing how much people will buy and sell things for, but there's no reason the same effect doesn't apply to things like worldviews. This is likely one of the many reasons it's hard for people to change their beliefs, even on small topics.

    - Same or nearly the same as the endowment effect

    - Related to Ikea effect and not-invented-here (NIH) effect.

Misinformation Effect - This is when information after an event affects our memory of the event. The classic example of this effect is from a 1974 study that showed people a film of a car crash. Participants were asked how fast the car was going when it either collided, bumped, contacted, hit, or smashed into the other vehicle. This change of a single word affected their estimates of the car's speed and one week later, those in the smashed condition were more likely to say they saw broken class. This is a potential argument against the resurrection, however, this effect cannot explain something as big as a person rising from the dead or the fact that the NT authors witnessed several other miracles and did miracles themselves.

    - Same or nearly the same as

    - Related to DRM procedure, false memories, imagination inflation, Mandela effect

Myside Bias - The tendency to favor evidence and arguments that support what a person already believes. My favorite study on this asked participants to state whether deductive syllogisms were valid and they scored around 70%, but when asked to do the same for abortion syllogisms opposing their own view, they dropped to about 40%. When doing apologetics, you need to find ways to bring up and discuss topics in a safe and unemotional way so that people will be willing to think instead of rejecting it without much thought.

    - Same or nearly the same as confirmation bias

    - Related to belief bias, belief perseverance


Negativity Bias - Also known as the negativity effect, this is our tendency to focus on and remember negative things more than positive things, to more heavily weigh negative factors in decision making, or to perceive ambiguous cues as negative. In short, negative thoughts and experiences are very powerful in our lives and hard to overcome. This is why negative experiences in the church or with Christians is such a common factor among non-believers even though it is logically irrelevant to whether Christianity is true. Additionally, even if you speak to someone who has a negative view of Christianity, you can be present the gospel or an apologetic argument in a neutral or even somewhat positive way and they might interpret it negatively. This is just one reason why our tone, style, and words are so important when doing apologetics.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to in-group/out-group bias

Normalization - When something (usually something strange or rare) is repeatedly encountered and eventually is accepted or viewed as normal. We've seen this happen in society in several areas such as sexual ethics, gender, debt, divorce, and others. The notion that faith can be rational is super strange to many people and doesn't fit in with their schema for religion. This is why I started Apologetics Awareness to help get people familiar with the idea that faith can be rational. The best way to use normalization to your advantage is to present the thing you want to be accepted in a positive and non-controversial way. For Apologetics Awareness, the focus isn't on arguing with people or presenting arguments; it's about letting people know there is evidence and you can be a thinker and a believer. It's a subtle but important difference because consistent negative experiences will harden people to what you're saying.

    - Same or nearly the same as mere exposure effect, systematic desensitization, habituation
    - Related to the availability heuristic, foot-in-the-door technique

Not-Invented-Here (NIH) Effect - This is when we reject an idea or undervalue something because we did not come up with it. Simply put, people don't like to be wrong and don't like it when someone else knows more than them. A great way to get people to think they've come up with an idea of their own is to ask leading questions, preferably about things they likely haven't thought about before. This is different than trying to ask questions that trap a person in a corner, but with this effect, you want to use less direct questions and don't answer the question yourself (or point out how their views are contradictory). This can also be used with the mere exposure effect because once people are aware of an idea, even if they can't name it, their brain may unconsciously stumble upon it through repeated conversations.
    - Same or nearly the same as the Ikea effect
    - Related to mere exposure effect, self-serving bias, mere ownership effect, endowment effect.

Obedience - People are generally more obedient to authority figures than they would be otherwise. There are certainly many exceptions to this and other factors to consider so this one can be hard to use in practical situations. The best way to use this is to understand who you're talking to and present yourself in a way that they would consider an authority. In most cases, this means dressing and speaking professionally, but with some people, it might mean presenting yourself as somewhat of a rebel. Additionally, citing people or institutions the other person considers authoritative can also be effective. If the person is an atheist, try to cite what other atheists have said that supports what you are trying to say.
    Same or nearly the same as conformity, expertise, appeal to authority (fallacy)
    Related to liking, reactance (opposite)

Openness (Personality) - Openness to experience is one of the five major personality factors that affect people and it plays an important role in decision making. People who are high in openness are likely to be more liberal and more likely to consider and accept alternative viewpoints, but they may be too comfortable with contradictions or ambiguity and unwilling to commit to a view. People low in openness are unlikely to even consider new evidence presented to them in the first place, and even if you can get them to consider it, actually changing views will be extremely hard for them.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    
Related to confirmation bias, belief perseverance

Operant Conditioning - This is just rewards and punishments. We don't often think about how we interact with people in terms of rewards and punishments, but our brains process conversation cues in the same way. When you cut someone off when talking, criticize them or their view, or point out a logical fallacy, their brain processes that as though they are being punished for talking. There are two solutions for this: they will recognize they are wrong and change their view or they'll just decide to stop talking to you, at least about religion. While both options are possible, it's much more likely they'll just stop talking to you. Instead of being critical, thank people for sharing, ask authentic questions, praise the positive things they say, and draw attention to areas of agreement instead of just focusing on disagreements.
    
Related to classical conditioning, in-group/out-group bias, liking, negativity bias

Positivity Bias - You might be thinking, hey, I thought we have a negativity bias, now you're telling me theirs a positivity bias? This difference is who the bias is direct toward. People are more likely to expect positive things, have positive memories, or have positive evaluations about themselves or their group whereas the negativity bias applies to others and the out-group. To overcome this, you need to present arguments in a positive way, ask questions so people come up with the answer on their own, and praise them when possible.

    
Same or nearly the same as self-serving bias, 
    Related to confirmation bias, in-group/out-group bias, not-invented-here effect, liking.

Processing Style (Top-Down vs. Bottom-Up Processing) - We all process information simultaneously in a top-down and bottom-up fashion. Top-down is when we see the big picture and work down to the details (seeing the forest before the trees) and bottom-up is when we add details together to understand the whole (seeing individual trees before recognizing a forest). This isn't really a bias, but it can influence our decisions by limiting the way we see something or by distracting us from the real question. If we're debating whether a patch of trees is a forest, getting caught in a discussion about whether one single tree is really a bush is irrelevant to the larger picture and can distract us from finding a solution.

    Same or nearly the same as
    Related to framing, red herrings (fallacy), reductionism (philosophy)

Pareidolia - A specific type of apophenia (above) that involves seeing patterns in random visual or auditory stimuli. In other words, it's seeing Jesus on a piece of toast or hearing a hidden message in songs that are played backward (excluding intentional exceptions for both of these 😀).

    Same or nearly the same as apophenia, agenticity, patternicity
    Related to

Placebo Effect - This is when something affects us simply because we believe it will affect us. The obvious example is when sugar pills (placebo) are given as medication for drug testing, the sugar pills actually improve people's health; however, this effect is much broader than just medicine. Believers seems to be especially susceptible to this effect. The placebo effect can largely explain why things like amber beads, essential oils, and other homeopathic remedies seem effective (obviously with rare exceptions where clinical trials have shown them to be effective). The importance of understanding the placebo effect for apologetics is mostly for recognizing how non-believers might view us mistake the placebo effect for a real effect. If I am talking to a thoughtful atheist and I tell her that I was healed by essential oils, she will likely think it was really just the placebo effect and that I am too biased or ignorant to know better. The same is true for many claims people make about prayer. It's extremely hard to convince people to change their views on something, but it's even more difficult if they think you are unintelligent. 
    
Same or nearly the same as 
    Related to attribution errors, base-rate fallacy, apophenia, superstition, classical conditioning, self-fulfilling prophecy


Prejudice - This is when we are biased against a particular group. Obviously, this applies to race; however, research shows that people tend to be heavily biased against atheists and other religious groups regardless of race. Additionally, there's prejudice can be explicit or implicit. Explicit is when someone admits (perhaps only privately) they are racist or against a group. Implicit bias is when someone is unaware that they are biased or prejudiced against someone. The degree to which the most common test for this, the Implicit Association Test (IAT), actually reveals implicit bias is debated, but regardless, it's almost certain we have some level of prejudice against several out-groups. For apologetics, this means that people we talk to may have implicit biases against us that they are unaware of, but it also means we may have biases against other groups of people and these biases can prevent us both sides from listening to and understanding each other. 

    Same or nearly the same as out-group bias
    Related to in-group bias (opposite), stereotypes, discrimination

Priming - Priming is when our brains are prepared (primed) to think a certain way or about a certain topic. If you've ever done the trick where you ask someone say ten 10 times then you ask them what soda cans are made out of, they are likely to say tin instead of aluminum because their brain is primed to think of things like ten and since tin sounds like ten and is a metal like aluminum, it pops into our minds right away. The importance of this for apologetics is understanding how our environment, single words, or just about anything else can prime the person we are talking to which will affect the way a person engages our arguments. We can prime them to be argumentative and intuitive, which would not be helpful, or we can prime them to be open and thoughtful.

    
Same or nearly the same as
    Related to framing 

Projection – We all have a tendency to assume that other people think or feel the same way we do. This is projection and it's one of the few ideas Freud had that has stuck around. If we get heated in a conversation, we are likely to think the other person is heated too or that they are the only person who's heated. This can taint the way we view an interaction with others or how they view it, which is all the more reason to avoid argumentation and making people angry. If you do that, even if you're right, they will likely project their anger on you and view you as the belligerent person and disregard everything you said. People are much more likely to remember how you make them feel rather than the content of your arguments so as much as possible, avoid saying things that will anger people.
    
Same or nearly the same as
    Related to self-serving bias

                ***** 4th Set of New Additions *****

Revenge - It may seem surprising, or not, that humans have a strong inclination to get revenge on others, so much so that people will often knowingly harm themselves in order to get revenge. This relates to our sense of justice or fairness, which is one of the primary factors that influence people's moral choices. If you embarrass someone by proving them wrong, they are probably more likely to respond by seeking revenge rather than changing their view. In most cases, revenge be nothing more than passive-aggressive or subtle insults, but sometimes they are blatant and on rare occasions, they may be dangerous.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to backfire effect, forgiveness (opposite), reactance, retributive justice

Making people want to punch you is not a good persuasion tactics.
Making people want to punch you is not a good persuasion tactic.




Reactance - This is a personality factor and it is the tendency to react against someone, usually an authority figure, by doing the opposite of what they say. It's often not a rational response, but people will justify their reactive actions rationally (at least in ways that sound rational). For instance, someone high in reactance might immediately decide not to wear a mask during the pandemic and only later will they come up with reasons to support this (and often they will be conspiracy theory types of explanations). In regard to religion, it seems like a lot of former Christians left the church because they didn't like God, the Bible, or their church leaders telling them what to do and simply arguing with them about those reasons or the intellectual reasons they offer as post hoc justification will only convince them more that they are correct.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to authority, compliance, backfire effect, obedience, revenge, retributive justice

Regression to the Mean - This is a statistical phenomenon. Imagine you flip a coin a billion times. What will the result be for heads and tails? Likely it will be almost exactly 50%. However, if you look at a random set of flips within that billion, there might be instances of 10 or even 20 heads in a row. Our lives are composed of billions of moments and opportunities for apparently rare things to happen, so we need to be careful not to draw generalized conclusions from these statistically inevitable, but rare events. Believers are particularly guilty of this when they claim every coincidence in life is the active work of God. Non-believers may not know the term regression to the mean, but they'll still view you and your claims as nonsensical. I'm not saying you shouldn't recognize God in your life, but you should be aware of how others might view what you say. 
    - Same or nearly the same as apophenia, pareidolia 
    - Related to the base rate fallacy

Representativeness Heuristic - This is a mental shortcut that leads us to conclude that a specific example that matches our schema is more likely than a general example. Here's the classis illustration of this heuristic. 
Linda is 31 years old, single, outspoken, and very bright. She majored in philosophy. As a student, she was deeply concerned with issues of discrimination and social justice, and also participated in anti-nuclear demonstrations. Which is more probable? a.) Linda is a bank teller or b.) Linda is a bank teller and is active in the feminist movement. Many people say "b" because Linda matches their schema for a feminist but "a" is the more likely since "a" can be correct without "b" being correct but it can't be the other way around. 
    - Same or nearly the same as conjunction fallacy, stereotypes
    - Related to the base-rate fallacy, hasty generalization (fallacy), schemas, archetypes, prejudice, in-group/out-group bias

Routinization or Foot-in-the-door - This is we agree to or accept something small, and that small thing becomes our new standard or expectation, and when something is added so we go along with that as well, and things continue to escalate. This is a classic sales tactic, but it also explains how people might do things that seem morally disgusting, even to the person who did it. In apologetics, this technique can be used to build bridges and rapport with them for having conversations. Start by finding places where you agree on things and then move slowly from there. In most cases, people will not be open to hearing what you say if you give them too much at once so using this technique can help you from overwhelming the other person.
    - Same or nearly the same as habituation
    - Related to the hedonic treadmill, systematic desensitization, normalization, mere exposure effect, anchoring, door-in-the-face, commitment bias, obedience, self-herding

Scarcity - We want to feel special so if something is rare, we feel special by having it. Essentially, this principle works by making people feel superior to others in some way. In terms of religious dialogue, people think they have the special, true knowledge of reality, which makes them feel special and they will not give it up easily. I've seen this work in all directions so don't think you haven't fallen victim to this type of thinking, even if it's unconscious.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to unity and social proof (somewhat opposite), not-invented-here, 
loss aversion, in-group/out-group bias.

Schemas - If you've watched anything from Jordan Peterson you've probably heard him talk about Jung's idea of an archetype. This is very similar. It's a mental representation of something in an idealized form. This relates to decision making because we have a very hard time understanding, remembering, and accepting things that don't fit into our schemas. For instance, if someone's schema for religious belief includes blind faith, they will likely have a very hard time understanding how evidence could even be applied to religious belief. They almost certainly won't accept any evidence provided at that point either. They need time to come to terms with the new information and adjust their schema first (unfortunately, many people won't adjust it and will just forget or ignore the new information).
    - Same or nearly the same as (Jungian) archetypes, prototype
    - Related to mere awareness effect

Selective Attention - This is when we get so focused on a certain thing or task that we are unaware of other things going on around us. The gorilla illusion (see video) is the classic example of this. I've seen this at play in apologetics when people start to argue about irrelevant details of an argument such as meanings of words. This is not to say the meanings of words are irrelevant, but in many cases, the weight of an argument doesn't depend on a specific definition either. 
    - Same or nearly the same as cherry-picking (fallacy)
    - Related to the availability heuristic, expectancy bias, red herring (fallacy), selective perception


Selective Perception - This is like selective attention but the information is consciously recognized, but it essentially goes in one ear and out the other, often because it doesn't fit out schema, views, or expectations. If you're driving an accidentally cut someone off because you didn't see them, that's selective attention, but if it's because you saw them and it just didn't register that you were moving in front of them, that's due to selective perception. When people are confronted with a large amount of information that disagrees with their own views, they simply can't remember it all. Selective perception will often cause them to ignore or forget the best arguments and focus on the arguments they think they can refute.
    - Same or nearly the same as cherry-picking (fallacy)
    - Related to the availability heuristic, belief bias, confirmation bias, expectancy bias, selective attention, identifiable victim effect

Self Herding - We tend to follow the crowd in much of our decisions, and the more like us the crowd is, the more likely we are to follow...and nobody is more like us than our own self? When we act in a particular way, we are likely to act that way in the future because we're merely following our own lead. This could be good or bad depending on the situation but I'm guessing it's more likely to be bad. Let's say you think something is a sin, but you give in to temptation and do it anyway. Now that you've done it, the next time you are tempted, your past experience of doing it will increase the chances that you do it again and perhaps even more frequently. This will lead to cognitive dissonance, which often means the beliefs, not the actions will change. Anecdotally, it seems like this process is a contributing factor in deconversion for a lot of people.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to foot-in-the-door, routinization, desensitization, habituation, hedonic adaptation, cognitive dissonance.

Self-Fulfilling Prophecy - When we view ourselves in a certain we, we are more likely to act in ways that align with that view. Likewise, when someone else has certain expectations of us, they are likely to treat us in ways that align with those expectations. In both cases, the results usually align with the expectations. In apologetics, if we treat someone like an enemy and combatant, they are likely to respond as an enemy would and get defensive rather than listen to the evidence. On the other hand, treating people as though they are a friend is much more likely to spawn a cooperative environment where the other people listens (which means you need to listen to).
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to expectancy bias, the Hawthorne effect, self-esteem, identity, in-group/out-group bias, liking, unity

Self-Serving Bias - It could be argued that every bias in reasoning is some version of this bias. We have a strong tendency to favor ourselves over others. We think we're less biased than others, more likely to have success in the future, that we're more capable than others, and so on. At the same time, we're more likely to explain away bad things we do or that happens to us due to circumstances rather than our own inability. When you engage someone with apologetic arguments, keep in mind that they will desperately do or say some pretty extreme things in order to save face and avoid damaging their pride. At the same time, remember that you are likely to do the same. Hopefully, your knowledge of this can help inject some humility into the conversation.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to fundament attribution error, in-group/out-group bias, confirmation bias, backfire effect, and just about everything else.

Sensory adaptation or desensitization - When we are bombarded with a strong sense, our minds adapt to it and we eventually filter it out and don't notice it unless someone mentions it or there is some change. The interesting thing about this is that even though we may not consciously recognize the stimuli, it can still influence our decisions. A disgusting smell or environment is likely to make people less receptive to accepting new views, although this is probably a pretty small effect. The more likely scenarios are broader examples of this effect listed below as nearly the same. See those factors for more information.
    - Same or nearly the same as hedonic adaptation (treadmill), systematic desensitization, habituation
    - Related to

Sexual Arousal - It's probably not surprising that being sexually aroused affects our decision making, but what might be surprising is the extent to which is does (See Tables 2, 3, and 4 of this study). Thankfully, this doesn't have a huge application to apologetics (although I'm sure there are ways it can), but it's interesting to be aware of to understand how our reasoning works.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to appealing to emotion

Sleep Deprivation - It's probably common sense that sleep deprivation can affect our reasoning pretty badly, however, what is not common sense is just how easily sleep deprivation can affect us and the wide variety of ways it can affect us. Sleep debt is cumulative so if you don't get enough sleep for several nights in a row (even if it's a little bit of sleep debt), the negative effects compound. When we're tired, we're more likely to dismiss things without careful thought and even if we do think about it, it won't be the highest quality thinking, which is what is necessary for apologetics discussion. Check out my article on sleep for more information.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to fatigue, ego depletion, stress

Stereotypes & Stereotype Threat - Stereotypes are when we have a simplistic view a group of people, Stereotype threat is when a stereotype about our own group is activated, we are likely to act in accordance with that stereotype. For instance, subtle reminders that females are not as good at math or science as males causes females to perform worse on those tests (but not language tests). We (Christians) likely have many stereotypes against atheists, Muslims, and people of other religions, while at the same time, others may have stereotypes about us, and these stereotypes can affect the way we treat each other and respond to each other. Being aware of these stereotypes can help us overcome them so that we can all reason better.
    - Same or nearly the same as self-fulfilling prophecy, schema, archetype, prototype, expectancy bias
    - Related to prejudice, discrimination, in-group/out-group bias

Stress - It's no secret that stress impacts our decision making. I don't think anyone would disagree with this. The problem is that many apologetic engagements become stressful events for the unprepared non-believer. As a result, they get defensive and respond angrily or they just give up and tune out, seeming to pay attention but really just trying to leave.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to sleep deprivation


   
Spotlight Effect - This is the tendency to think people are paying more attention to us than they really are. If we spill a little on our shirt at lunch, we fear everyone will notice it, but in reality, most people won't. I hear people often say they respond to other people or continue responding to them because others are watching (usually in reference to social media debates). This is fine, but it's probably not as likely as we think. On the other side of the coin, if we discuss something with another person publicly, they are likely to feel more people watching them and go to greater efforts to save face. This is just one reason that personal and private conversations are better than public ones.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to self-serving bias

Status quo Bias - For most people, change is scary so even if something is bad, they will rationalize not changing. What is scarier than changing your whole worldview and potentially even your friends? If someone is not a Christian (or even if they are part of a specific Christian group that teaches false things), there are very strong emotional pulls preventing them from changing their beliefs (as there are with Christians who deconvert). This is important to remember so that you can have more patience with people and if they do convert, it's very important to continue to help them facilitate social connections, especially if they've come from a faith that typically has close social bonds among members (Muslims, Latter-Day Saints, etc.)
    - Same or nearly the same as system justification
    - Related to sunk cost fallacy, loss aversion, compensatory control, cognitive dissonance, the endowment effect

Terror Management Theory (Mortality Salience) - Terror management theory (TMT) says that we fear death, and as a result, all of our decisions and actions are attempts to avoid death (or thinking about it). Mortality salience is just the thought of death so that when mortality salience is high, we are likely to be more affected by thoughts of death than when it is low. In most cases, thoughts of death cause us to stick closer to our in-group and be more narrow-minded, which is not what we want for apologetics. However, it can work in weird ways sometimes because talking to someone about their impending death can also get them to try to prevent it, making them more open to the idea of eternal life through Jesus.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to

Thinking (Cognitive) Style - Thinking style is assessed with the cognitive reflection test (CRT), which is three questions meant to test whether you give an intuitive and wrong answer or if you think about things more carefully and give the correct answer. Analytical thinking (as opposed to intuitive thinking) is correlated with atheism and higher IQ; however, it won't always be the case that the atheist will be smarter or more analytical. Additionally, this just describes a person's typical style, it doesn't describe their abilities so that an intuitive thinker might be a much better thinker than an analytical thinker. A great way to use this factor is through priming. If you prime someone to think analytically, they are more likely to engage in rational thought rather than responding reactively.
    - Same or nearly the same as intuition, appeal to emotion
    - Related to priming, IQ, personality

Truth-Default Theory - When we hear or read something, we typically assume it is true. Obviously, this isn't the case if we have reasons to think otherwise, but it's also going to be the case if we are engaged in a debate with someone or disagree with them. As frustrating as it is, atheists are more likely to believe Richard Dawkins when he speaks on religion because their default is to assume truth. Likewise, Christians will do the same thing from their sources. This seems to be a major explanation of why people leave Christianity: they never question their faith and as soon as someone presents a few objections, they default to truth from that person and implicitly assume there is no response.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to authority, credibility, confirmation bias

Vividness & Vagueness - These two adjectives are opposites, but often work in similar ways. If something is vivid and detailed, we're more likely to assume it's true. However, with our own beliefs, we often have very vague notions of how they fit together and we don't recognize inconsistencies. We also have a tendency to attribute profoundness to vagueness even when it might be complete rubbish (See this scientific article on pseudo-profound bulls**t)
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to flashbulb memories, identifiable victim effect

Zeigarnik Effect - This effect is debated, but a limited application of it is probably widely accepted. This effect says that we remember things better when we are interrupted during the task. This is almost certainly not true; however, when we stop a task at a cliffhanger, it does increase our interest in it and helps us to think about it more frequently before returning to it. The best application for this is to try to end apologetic conversations with some sort of interesting or challenging question. Koukl (see Tactics) calls this putting a stone in the person's. If they leave the conversation with something nagging to think about, they are more likely to come back to it and give it serious consideration.
    - Same or nearly the same as
    - Related to
-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
This is the end of this list; however, there are about 15 more effects I intend to add throughout the article, mostly at the beginning. When I started this I thought I would limit it to just biases, but as I wrote, I expanded to broader decision-making factors, so I have a few to go back and add it.




Recommended Resources
Good list of biases with much more in-depth descriptions
The Decision Lab

Books to help further understand how these factors affect our decisions.
Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Predictably Irrational and The Upside of Irrationality by Dan Ariely
The Righteous Mind by Jonathan Haidt

Books to help overcome psychological barriers when doing apologetics and evangelism.
Influence: Science and Practice (also as Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion) and Pre-Suasion by Robert Cialdini
How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie

And just for good measure, here's a satirical list of biases that describe some current cultural tendencies, some of which relate to the biases listed above. A few particularly good ones are Evopsychophobia, Implicit ESP delusions, Subjectiphilia, and Wokanniblism.
Orwelexicon for Bias