So Chris Hallquist wrote a blog post about Christian apologist Lee Strobel. Take a look:
"I am very skeptical that there is anyone who fits the images that Lee Strobel and people like him have created for themselves. Let me explain.
"[S]ome prominent Christian figures–notably Lee Strobel and Josh McDowell–have risen to fame by painting self-portraits in which intellectual considerations dragged them kicking and screaming into belief. Notice what they’re doing: they’re essentially claiming to be Christian versions of Lukeprog et al. But if you look at what Strobel says in his pre-Case for… book Inside the Mind of Unchurched Harry and Mary, you get a somewhat different picture: Strobel started going to church because his wife wanted him to, found it emotionally moving, and then started reading Christian apologetics to assure himself it was all true. It’s unclear Strobel read any non-Christian books in his 'journalist’s investigation...'
"Are there any other good candidates for being Lee Strobel, other than Strobel? In a discussion at Ed Feser’s blog, one commenter suggested Joshua Rasmussen and Trent Doughtery as examples of people became theists because of arguments, but based on scanning online for things Joshua and Trent have written about that, as well as exchanging a few e-mails with them, it’s pretty clear to me their situation wasn’t quite what the commenter made to sound like: both started out as fairly serious believers, wavered towards agnosticism, and report going back for intellectual reasons."
I concur with Hallquist's observations. In a recent debate (about ten and a half minutes in), Mike Licona mentioned Dr. Craig Keener, another "former atheist" who became a Christian because of the overpowering evidence. But take a look at Keener's story, from his own website:
"One day when I was 15, as I was walking home from school, a couple students from a fundamentalist Bible college cornered me and asked me if I knew where I would go when I died. I argued with them for 45 minutes, as they tried to explain about Jesus’ death and resurrection bringing salvation, something that made no sense to me. Finally I hit them with what I thought was the ultimate question: “If there’s a God, where did the dinosaur bones come from?” If one asks a stupid question, one usually gets a stupid answer. They replied that the devil put them there. I was so annoyed that I started to walk off, and they warned me that if I kept hardening my heart against God, I would end up in hell...
"Although I tried to shake off their words, I found myself terrified the entire way home. Despite the nonsense about the devil planting dinosaur bones to fool us, they had given me the true message about Christ. I had wanted God to give me empirical evidence, but instead God confronted me with the reality of God's own presence. I had studied various religions and philosophies in the encyclopedia, but what I was experiencing now was on a completely different level. As I got to my room, I was so overwhelmed by God’s presence and the demand it made on my life that I felt only two options—I had to either accept or reject the demand of my Creator, and God was not going to let me alone until I did one or the other.
"My knees buckled out from under me, and I cried out, "God, I don’t understand how Jesus dying and rising from the dead can save me—but if that’s what You are saying, I’ll believe it. But God—I don’t know how to be ‘saved.’ So if You want to save me, You’re going to have to do it Yourself.” Suddenly I felt something rushing through my body like I had never felt before. I did not understand what had just happened, but I knew that God was real and that I must now give God everything I was and everything I had.
"By the age of nine I was asserting that I was an atheist. Although I thought I had sound philosophic reasons for my view, I did not disrespect all religions (and especially enjoyed studying ancient Greek and Egyptian ones), if I believed that those who followed them had some genuine reasons for their belief. Yet it seemed to me that of all the religions of which I was aware, only Christians did not take their faith very seriously (a perspective I unfortunately extrapolated based on the assumption that most Americans were Christians); I reasoned that if one really believed that there was a God, one would give God everything one was and everything one had."
It ought to be clear from the context of Licona's use of Dr. Keener that he was being dishonest. Dr. Craig Keener was not someone who changed his mind as a sober minded adult. He was a kid who originally ridiculed God (maybe to make himself feel good or to be rebellious) and later had an emotional experience as a teenager that caused him to change his mind.
Another guy that I've seen cited like this is Lionel Luckhoo. In an internet video that I wasn't able to locate currently (I've watched it before) Lee Strobel cited Lionel Luckhoo as this fantastic defense attorney (which he was) who had carefully examined the evidence for Jesus with the same rigor that he examined evidence in court cases. But if you read Luckhoo's pamphlet Did Jesus rise from the dead? The Question Answered, you'll see that Luckhoo constantly (and question-beggingly) assumes complete or near complete reliability of the gospel accounts to arrive at this conclusion. Luckhoo might have been a Guinness record holding attorney, but that does not excuse such sorry reasoning in this instance.
So I agree completely with Chris Hallquist that there does not seem to be any case of an objective, soberminded, fully-informed person looking at the evidence and coming to the conclusion that Christianity is true.
On the other hand, I'm not sure how many examples we have of atheists who came to the conclusion of atheism free of passion and without plausible psychological motive. I didn't. Charles Darwin best summed up one of my reasons for questioning my faith which lead me to atheism:
"I can indeed hardly see how anyone ought to wish Christianity to be true; for if so the plain language of the text seems to show that the men who do not believe, and this would include my Father, Brother, and almost all my best friends, will be everlastingly punished. And this is a damnable doctrine."
I'm not saying that I'm an atheist because I don't like Christianity. I justify atheism through observation and logic. But I am aware that I have a bias against Christianity because I believe its doctrine of hell is awful and wicked.
And I think the same applies to many atheists. John Loftus, whom Hallquist seems to think of as someone who came to atheism through reason alone, neglects the fact that what lead John to question his faith was being treated badly by his Christian friends after an affair. And besides, there's really no way to ever be sure that someone was free of bias when they left Christianity. We don't know their thoughts, nor does anyone else. And of course after the de-conversion they may try and portray themselves as completely bias-free. After all, most people are not true-to-reality enough to realize or even report (for fear of discrediting themselves) any bias they may have had.
So my conclusion is that there is no Lee Strobel and probably could not/never will be enough evidence for a Lee Strobel or an atheistic version thereof.
**Just one other thing: You may think that I've contradicted myself in stating that we can't ever really know the thoughts of another but also coming up with psychological reasons that John Loftus may have left Christianity. I'm not: I'm not saying that I know John Loftus became an atheist for psychological reasons, I'm simply saying that it is plausible to think that he did, or to think that psychological reasons played a significant role in his deconversion.