Apologetics

Hi, my name is Tim, and I have a problem with apologetics.

On the one hand, I want to remain open-minded: open to new ideas that don’t fit with my existing beliefs; open to the possibility that I’m wrong about important things. I want to be a person who can see both the positive and the negative of an idea, whether it’s an idea I want to believe, or one I want to reject, or one that I’m indifferent to.

On the other hand, I’ve read a few works of religious apologetics. They have all been singularly lacking in philosophical rigour, scientific literacy, or open-mindedness. They have been disappointing. And that makes it hard to give the next work of apologetics a fair hearing, because I can already hear all of my well-exercised objections starting to clamour for attention, almost as soon as I open the cover.

So, when I crack into a new work of apologetics, I feel the cynicism, the disgust, and the contempt start to bubble up. And that’s not the type of person I want to be. I am not a cynic. I am not a contemptuous person.

My solution, for the moment, is to go cold-turkey on reading apologetics. No more giving them the benefit of the doubt. No more slogging through mind-numbing obsequiousness or self-congratulatory drivel to determine whether some new apologist has an amazing insight that I haven’t yet come across.

If you are a believer and think there is a knock-down argument, or even just a thought-provoking speculation, that I should be exposed to, please share it with me in the comments section. I am still determined to remain open to dialogue.

Anyway, rant over. Also, happy Earth Day everyone!

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2 Responses to “Apologetics”

  1. David (@adlhancock) Says:

    Tim, as a lover of apologetics, I’ve also yet to find a great book on the subject, so I don’t think you’re being unreasonable. I have, however, found great arguments buried in mediocre books from time to time. I think a common mistake that apologists of all backgrounds make is to fail to acknowledge that there may be multiple logically coherent solutions to a problem, and that changing a worldview is rarely (although occasionally) achieved through vehement argument. I’ve more often seen it happen through relational broad-spectrum persuasion, weaving multiple threads of evidence together, and by demonstrating over time that the proponent’s point of view is, as well as being fundamentally logical, experientially beneficial. For the Christian, since the core element of the faith is relationship with God rather than mere intellectual assent to his existence, this is both unsurprising and natural. I would urge you to avoid books of apologetics and to indulge instead in some long-winded and vehement arguments about the meaning of life and the nature of reality with an apologist with whom you fundamentally disagree on matters of philosophy but with whom you are genuine friends, preferably over a beer (or alternative beverage).

    • Timothy Mills Says:

      Thanks. I think you’ve nailed it: I’ll discuss this through personal relationships with believers, rather than reading static works of apologetics (online or in print).

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