Sunday, May 19, 2013

On Christian apologetics

Apologetics: The word "apologetics" is derived from the Greek word "apologia," which means to make a defense.  It has come to mean defense of the faith. Apologetics covers many areas: who Jesus is, the reliability of the Bible, refuting cults, biblical evidences in the history and archeology, answering objections, etc.  In short, it deals with giving reasons for Christianity being the true religion.(Christian Apologetics and Research Ministry).

The first problem I have with apologetics is its claim that Christianity is the one "true" religion. Based on this definition, what you are basically stating is that no matter what branch or sect of Christianity you claim to be a part of you are nothing more than a fundamentalist believer. The so called truth of Christianity is the one thing that all believers seem to agree on. Man is corrupted by this thing called sin and only the blood of Christ can wash it away and restore you and make you presentable before God.

Another issue I have with apologetics is that while on one hand the bible and theists condemn human knowledge and philsophy as corrupt they misuse human philosophy to bolster support for their beliefs. It seems to me that everything that man has invented as a means to obtaining knowledge Christians misuse and misrepresent in such a way as to make it seem to support their claims. They rename and repackage it to serve as a new tool in their arsenal. For example philosopy becomes apologetics, the big bang and  the theory of evolution becomes creationism or ID (Intelligent design theory).  In this sense I am in agreement with the late Christopher Hitchens assertion that "religion poisons everything."

One of the biggest flaws of apologetics is that it starts with the assertion that God is real but not just any god it has to be the Christian God. All of their arguments start with a belief in their god as a "basic belief" so they start with an unproven and even unprovable assertion based on faith and by the time they are done they end up right back where they began. This is known in the tenets of logic as circular reasoning and it's considered one of many logical fallacies often utilized by apologists. 

As in a criminal case you start with first establishing a theory or fact such as the existence of the biblical god. Then you have to find evidence in favor of your main assertion. Christians cannot admit that proving the existence of their god is not objectively possible and because of this makes his existence highly improbable. This is where theists and atheists differ the most, atheists demand proof, especially with something as important as religious beliefs and worship. If I commit my life to God I need to know without a shadow of a doubt that he exists.

If we are to believe the scriptures then believing in God is a life long commitment that takes work. You see it is not enough to say I believe because the bible teaches that faith without works is dead. It takes a conscious effort to live in a way that you believe is pleasing to your god based on what you have been taught and on your understanding of the scriptures. So Pascals wager doesn't work or apply here. It would only be true if you only had to make a conscious decision to believe that Jesus is Lord and then be able to go on with your life as if nothing had changed. But clearly the bible demands that your conduct reflect your beliefs. So in the end believing is not enough.

14What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them?  17In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead. Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder. James 2:14;17;19

14“You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16 

Apologetics is laden with a myriad of logical fallacies such as circular reasoning, red herrings, straw man attacks, appeal to arguments from "authority," begging the question, faulty analogy,etc. For example the famous watch analogy so beloved by apologists. 

 Comparing a watch to a human organism is a faulty analogy

Comparing a machine of known human invention to the universe and an unknown and unprovable god is as idiotic as comparing the workings of a wood chipper to the human digestive system. Although there may seem to be apparent order in nature, this sort of argument doesn't take into account the obvious chaos we see in nature every day. Chaos such as earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes, lightening storms, etc. are best explained naturally and scientifically without the necessity to defend from the argument from evil if you choose to believe in the existence of God. 

The actual purpose of apologetics was to guard against false doctrines and teachings within the Christian church and community. Not to argue for the existence of God or to attempt to make your beliefs rational and coherent for nonbelievers. 

14Keep reminding God’s people of these things. Warn them before God against quarreling about words; it is of no value, and only ruins those who listen. 15Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth. 16Avoid godless chatter, because those who indulge in it will become more and more ungodly.
2 Timothy 2:14-16

23Don’t have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments, because you know they produce quarrels. 24And the Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, not resentful. 25Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth, 26and that they will come to their senses and escape from the trap of the devil, who has taken them captive to do his will. 2 Timothy 2:23-26

The first few verses are directed towards the church and how to handle internal conflicts within the church regarding doctrines. The second set of verses is directed towards the church on how to handle arguments against nonbelievers or opponents of the church. Notice the assertion of truth and the tone of the text as it states that nonbelievers will "come to their senses." A perfect example of arrogance beyond any that I have ever seen! Remember that the bible teaches that the wisdom of the world is foolishness before God.

20Where is the wise person? Where is the teacher of the law? Where is the philosopher of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? 1Corinthians 1:20 

Contrary to what the bible teaches about its so called truth Christians are doing the opposite. They are not content to just know and preach their self proclaimed and baseless "truth," they want to force feed it to everyone else as well. Don't get me wrong, they have every right to defend their beliefs. But when others don't accept those beliefs they are duty bound to leave them to their own devices and not to force those beliefs on the rest of society. These were the instructions Jesus allegedly gave to his disciples when he sent them out to the Israelits to preach the coming of the kingdom.

14If anyone will not welcome you or listen to your words, leave that home or town and shake the dust off your feet. Matthew 10:14

In other words leave them the hell alone! Let them suffer the consequences of their disobedience and unwillingness to hear the word of the Lord. All theists need to learn this lesson and stop trying to force their beliefs on everyone by using deceit and wily stratagems such as ID to try to pass off their theologies as science.

Apologists, stop trying to convince us that your nonsense is true. If it's true to you then it is a truth that you have accepted. As for the rest of us we would really appreciate it if you just left us alone. I am not only referring to atheist and agnostics but also to other adherents of competing beliefs. Stop trying to force the world to accept what you believe because it goes against everything you claim. You say that we all have free will well I have chosen my right to exercise that will to not believe in your nonsense. 

Stop trying to use government officials to sway legislation in favor of what you believe. Stop trying to halt the progress of science because you feel that it is a violation of what your god wants. Stop trying to force your way into our public schools with your ten commandments, prayer in the classrooms, or the teaching of that joke you pass for science Intelligent Design. You've given us your side, you have spoken what you believe to be true, now do as the disciples and wipe the dust from your feet and keep it moving. 

 Note: All biblical citations are from the New International Translation


  1. If we could achieve no more than the propositions stated in your last two paragraphs the improvement would be enormous.

    In our neck of the woods, it seems that evangelism is coming back with a vengeance. After several years without being bothered, we've had bible thumpers at our door three times in the last couple of months: first, a pair of elderly ladies, then a middle-aged male-female team (carrying a bible the size of Webster's Unabridged dictionary!), and just the other day a matched pair of black-suited young men (who fortunately left voluntarily after our two dogs expressed their displeasure with them).

    I'm wondering if the upsurge in door-to-door evangelism is a sign of the faithfuls' recognition that atheism might finally be catching on. One can always hope.

    1. I usually get the Jehovah's Witnesses but lately I have been getting visits from the Nation of Islam. When I go outside I am often offered a biblical tract which I turn down on the spot and keep walking. Where I live at here in the Bronx, NY There are literally at least two to three churches on every other block!

      "I'm wondering if the upsurge in door-to-door evangelism is a sign of the faithfuls' recognition that atheism might finally be catching on."

      I highly doubt it. They are just trying to save as many souls before Jesus returns.