General disclaimer: I feel like I've missed something... I must have...
Hello, Rigabear. You make some very good points. As a former evangelical Christian, I would like to share my opinions about why I think some of the points you make are terrific. As a member of this forum, its predecessor, and another similar forum, I would like to share my opinions as to why you might be "missing something". BTW, I appreciated your disclaimer as it indicates a level of open mindedness.
First of all, the level of "dishonesty" a Christian displays depends on the personal experiences and intellectual capacity of the individual. Some of the Christians that post on these forums are "kids". You can tell by the way that they write. They have most likely been spoon fed their beliefs by their parents and pastors and are like young animals venturing out in the world for the first time. Like a young tiger attempting its first kill, they are attempting their first "conquest" in the name of Jesus. They visit the forum hoping to share what they believe is clearly the truth to deluded atheists. Like that young tiger, they bumble and stumble and really don't know what they are doing. They are extremely naive. I cut them a tremendous amount of slack.
Then, there are Christians who simply haven't been exposed to enough arguments by nonbelievers to realize that there is a discrepancy between their beliefs and the facts. I became a born-again Christian at age 13. All the information I got about the Bible and theology was from churches, youth groups, other Christians, and the 700 Club. I do remember being introduced to Josh McDowell in college and I readily accepted his apologetic arguments. I only remember several instances where my beliefs in college were questioned by other students, but they weren't done with a great deal of precision or persistence. I was so "on fire" for Jesus and convinced that I had the truth, that whatever wisdom they were trying to impart went right over my head.
Now, let me tell you about Christians that I believe are displaying higher levels of dishonesty.
On forums like these, and in other circumstances, I have seen Christians presented with challenging questions to which they have no good answers. When pressed on such matters, they turn off their brains, cover their ears, and more or less say "I can't hear you, I can't hear you." These people are being dishonest with themselves. They are so afraid that their whole world will crumble, that they won't attempt to examine evidence which they are afraid might indict their beliefs. Ignorance is bliss. Not to say that I am not sympathetic at all to their situation; the consequences of examining the beliefs in a critical manner are profound. Nonetheless, I do feel that they are not really being honest with themselves.
Now, for the Christians that reflect the "something" that you are "missing". Certain Christians on these forums have been repeatedly exposed to quality arguments by atheists and agnostics. They participate extensively in conversations and show a higher level of intellectual sophistication than other Christians. When confronted with challenges, I have seen them play games. They obfuscate, dodge, ignore posts, attempt to disqualify a question by claiming the person raising it did so in a disrespectful manner, change arguments in midstream in an attempt to find a rebuttal that works, etc, etc. These are the folks that I think are the most culpable of dishonesty.