You are a Christian, and that is why you think that..."
"You only have that view because you're religious."
"There is no literally no (expletive deleted) reason to think that
unless you just believe your Sky Daddy said so."
These are actual quotes from recent conversations I have had (online) with people. I run into this wall regularly when we there is strong disagreement on a topic. The assumption is that if a person is religious, all of his/her views are merely the byproduct of that religious commitment. At least the views pertaining to morality, origins, and the like. From there, it is further assumed that the person's views can simply be dismissed. Why? Because they are religious views, and the assumption is that religious views are inherently irrational. Now, I am not saying this is always wrong, but I want to point out that it takes a lot of assumptions to get there.
I think this chain of assumptions reveals, minimally, that most people have literally no idea what an evidential approach to Christian apologetics is, or than any such thing could even exist. I can understand that. There are just as many people (Christians included) who don't know what apologetics means, let alone what an evidential approach to it would be. In brief, apologetics comes from the Greek word apologia, which means "to give an answer or defense." Arguably, the key biblical passage regarding Christian apologetics is 1 Peter 3:15 which says, "Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you." In this verse, apologia is translated as answer. In short, apologetics is about giving a reason for why you believe. What is the reason? So, what is an evidential approach to apologetics? Well, that has to do with how with the way one answers the question "why do you believe as you do?" or "What is your reason?" Generally speaking, there are two primary approaches to apologetics: presuppositional, and evidential. Now, before I move forward, please understand that I am not trying to critique either view. My point here isn't to say one is better than the other, but to point out that the people making the assumption I mentioned above, obviously don't know or don't accept that one of the two, evidentialism, even exists. For now, I will just try my best to state them both fairly (though I don't have enough space to do either of them justice).
A person who takes a presuppositional approach to apologetics will typically respond to the question "why do you believe as you do" by saying something like, "I believe because I believe. We all presuppose that certain things are true, and I start with the Bible and Christianity." A staunch advocate of presuppositionalism may also add something along the lines of, "And mine is the only presupposition that doesn't ultimately reduce to absurdity."
On the other hand, a person who takes an evidential approach will typically respond to the question "why do you believe as you do" by saying something like, "I believe because I am convinced the evidence supports holding such a belief." A staunch advocate of evidentialism may also add something along the lines of, "And if I become convinced that the evidence does not support the belief, I will simply give it up."
Again, my point here is not to suggest that evidentialism is superior to presuppositionalism. For those who do not traffic in apologetics circles, you may wonder why I keep stressing that. Suffice it to say that if you have ever debated Calvinism vs Arminianism or Republican vs Democrat--it can be a lot like that. Personally, I have a great appreciation for both approaches. Anyway, back to my point.
The person who assumes that a Christian necessarily holds his or her views merely in virtue of the fact that he or she is Christian, is assuming that all Christians are presuppositionalists. In that case, it would be entirely fair to say "you just believe that because you are a Christian" or "because you believe in the Bible." Even so, it is important to point out, as a side note, that the reason a person believes something does not have any bearing on whether or not it is true. I could have learned that the earth is round by watching Saturday morning cartoons, rather than a science class. Sure, you might want to call that source into question, but it wouldn't actually change whether or not the claim in question (the earth is round) is true. At any rate, back to my point. If, on the other hand, the Christian is an evidentialist, then it doesn't follow that he or she simply holds his or her views merely in virtue of being a Christian. After all, the reason the evidentialist claims to be a Christian in the first place is because he or she is convinced by the evidence. Thus, it would make sense to think that this person holds his or her other views based on evidence as well. The trouble for the critic at that point is that he can no longer play the "you just believe because" card as a way of dismissing the Christian's claim. For the record, I don't think that is a legitimate way of dismissing presuppositionalist beliefs either, but it is at least consistent with what the critic is assuming. His or her beliefs are, before anything else, religious beliefs (again, that says nothing about whether or not they are true). But that is not true in the case of the evidentialist. It cannot be said that his or her beliefs are merely religious. Rather, they are, before anything else, based on conclusions drawn from evidence. Though the conclusion may be religious, it is not necessarily drawn for religious reasons. Thus, it is wrong to simply assume that all Christians hold their views simply because they are Christians. Critics should not be allowed to get away with stamping every Christian person's views with a notice that reads, "Merely Religious, Do Not Open."
With all of that said, I understand that there will be some people (both religious and irreligious) who push back by saying, "There is no such thing as evidence based religion or faith. The two are totally incompatible." I don't have time to respond to that here, but I have addressed it a few times on this website. Here are just a couple of the articles I have written to that end: "Do Have Blind Faith that Faith is Blind?" and "No Such Thing As Faith Without Reason."
Others may say that it doesn't matter, because there simply is no evidence for Christian belief. Again, I don't have space to respond to that here, but I would encourage such a person to minimally acknowledge that there is a large school of people who are convinced that the evidence supports their Christian belief. Rather than simply writing that group off, I would further encourage them to seek out the most scholarly material that group has to offer. Just speaking personally, that is precisely the same methodology that I use concerning other worldview claims. Granted, there are always going to be very loud, obnoxious people holding to any given view, but there are also many sincere people who at least claim to be genuinely convinced that these other views are true, and that makes me want to hear the best case that they have to offer.