Stuart, [a.k.a. "The Unrepentant Atheist" on youtube]
I've made a few comments on your channel raising the question of, "To what extent do we reason things through WITHOUT evidence?" because you do (so often) say that this matter of evaluating religion simply comes down to "the absence of evidence" for the existence of god, heaven, hell, etc.
When I speak to Communists, they do not hesitate to claim that their plan for utopia can work now, and that the evidence of what happened when the same plan was implemented in the past is irrelevant: they can't be talked out of their beliefs by indicating the evidence —and their beliefs are "materialistic" in a sense that explicitly religious beliefs never are.
Buddhists can say fairly easy, "The world would be a better place if everyone believed this tenet that I believe", and that may be quite difficult to refute in terms of evidence, too —whereas it is very difficult for a Muslim to argue that the world would be a better place if everyone believed in circumcision, jihad, child marriage, [the sexual enslavement of conquered enemies in war,] etc. The arguments for or against Buddhism are unlikely to be on the basis of evidence.
Yes, insincerely, Buddhists will claim there is scientific evidence that supports the "medical" (or psychological) value of meditation. They are not shaken out of their faith when contrasting evidence is presented, or when their evidence is debunked.
What I'm saying here —so briefly— augments (but doesn't overlap with) the critique of stupidity in my book Future of an Illusion. Obviously, that could be a much longer book if it included a generalized critique of religion, or a nihilistic critique of faith (something that's quite easy for me to write about).
In one of the comments I already sent you, I asked about the hypothetical scenario of your older brother (presuming you have a brother) presenting you with an idea for a new business that he wants you to invest in, and you're outright hostile toward the proposal: neither side of the argument is likely to rely on evidence. [Note: implicitly, this is an original business idea that has never been tried before, not something with "a track record" that can be appealed to as evidence.]
People fall in love and get married without evidence: we make judgements about a person's character and trustworthiness (and talent, etc.) very often in the absence of evidence —teachers, co-workers, etc., even more often than inamorata.
A boring but salient example: will my life be better or worse with the compromises that a (permanent) relocation to Japan would entail? The answer to this question doesn't really proceed from evidence: it is in many ways just as speculative as the questions of religion are for the average ἰδιώτης.
I have more experience deprogramming Communists than Religionists: most of my experience with talking to religious people face-to-face is that they find everything I say devastating and they're deeply shaken by even a very brief conversation with me —even when I'm being affable and genial in talking about religion. [Note: Melissa and I spoke to just one "true believing" Communist in New York at length and he, likewise, found the conversation emotionally devastating, and complained directly to me that the discussion was "humiliating" for him, along with several other synonyms for "humiliating".] I think that if I were trying to engage with religious people I would talk about the history and philosophy of each religion in terms of the historical development of the literature: understanding Christianity as the work of authors in a particular setting and language, and understanding that literature as emerging from an earlier literature. In this way, fiction is revealed as fiction.
Can I produce evidence that the story of Noah's Ark is fiction? In a sense the answer is "no": in a sense you can say, "Any moron who exams the relationship between Noah's Ark (in the Bible) and the parallel precedent in the Epic of Gilgamesh must understand that both stories are works of fiction" —but this is not really "evidence" in the sense that I think you presume in your discussions. If someone asks you to produce evidence that Shakespeare's Hamlet is fiction you may be flummoxed, although it would be extremely difficult (conversely) for someone on the other side to produce evidence that Hamlet is non-fiction.