What is the big deal with apologetics anyway?


You ever hear something so often that you figure you just know what it means? While I pride myself on looking stuff up on a whim and figuring out what the heck I’m looking at, sometimes my brain just decides on a definition and runs off with it before I get put a leash on it.

That was the case with apologetics. If you don’t know, apologists are despised among the common atheists. That is, you can often hear things like “Here goes another apologists,” or “The apologists swarmed to the issue,” etc. If someone comes and makes the party awkward (maybe with loud open-mouth chewing, or lewd stories about someone’s relatives), it is the apologist. So, considering the apologist is always Christian in these stories, I thought I knew what I was dealing with. These are obviously people who make excuses for religion, hence the ‘apology’ related root in the word.

Well I was wrong, sort of. Apologist, to help out anyone as stubborn as me, ‘argue in defense’, which is what the word means. They are a branch, a philosophical one, that uses logic and good argument to speak in defense of Christianity (or a stance in general, but commonly this is for the old Yahweh Jr. fanboys). Really, they are both the best and worst Christians, from my point of view. At the least, they aren’t commonly orthodox in their faith, and can admit when some aspects of the bible are goofy (Divine drop bears summoned by bald dudes are awesome, but definitely silly). At the same time, apologists are frustrating. Because once you have someone who doesn’t throw the logic baby out with the education bathwater, you have religious speakers who can persuade a lot of people of some ridiculous concepts. 

So having done by English major duty and actually looked up the words I use, I figured I should actually look into apologists. Not just look them up, like find videos where they are poked and prodded by my brothers and sisters in secularism. I mean look at them through their eyes, find the videos where they consider themselves to have won, see their best arguments. 

So I found William Lane Craig. Sometimes called Atheism’s worst enemy, and other hyperbolic things. The man seems to be dreadfully intelligent, a strong debater, and in the end still a Christian. I’ll post a video or two.

He is their Dawkins, the guy who walks in a room and rips the weak arguments to shreds. When a Christian thinks they are posing great ponderous questions to atheists on youtube, Craig is who they wish they were being. 

They are not. Thankfully, your average internet atheist isn’t exactly a rocket surgeon, so in this regard the field is square. The one category where I consider myself above the common youtube comment is I can write a sentence without resorting to 4 letter words. Either way, Craig is a bright guy, and so it is for that reason that he is often pitted up against the likes of Dawkins, and at a time when the great man was alive, Hitchens.

I will summarize this, because 2 hours is a long time to lead someone away from your free wordpress blog. Craig knows how to sway an audience. If that debate was scored, I guarantee you, Hitchens lost in points. While I think Hitchens had the stronger arguments, Craig showed the power of the apologist.

He stated what he would show, and he did his work to show it. His attempt to guide the conversation was successful, helped in large part by Hitchens not bothering to stop and fight Craig on every issue he presented. With 20 minutes to respond, Hitchens had no chance of covering his own arguments, and the 5 stances Craig brought to the audience. So Craig gets to walk away calling himself victorious.

Unfortunately, this didn’t do much to make his argument actually seem intelligent. His stances are interesting, some are food for thought (the ideas of fine tuning are pondered by people daily, and his argument against the odds of human evolution could be pleasing to some), but his great flaw is what many apologist will run up against.

Lets call it the Yahwall. The Yahwall is when great philosophers craft magnificent arguments that could make you ponder the whole of reality, then they realize that their argument doesn’t work for them unless it includes Yahweh. It goes a little something like this:

“It would be insane to think that the billions to the billionth power chance of human evolution happening is proof that evolution is obvious. So I propose that it must have been fine-tuned by some intelligent entity. Which proves that this entity is my particular god, Yahweh, and only how my particular church worships him.”

Even if you wanted to believe in A, and you followed that premise to B, C does not logically follow. It goes straight from arguing your case, to proselytizing. Because at the end of the day, apologetics has to sacrifice a small bit of the hunt for (little t) truth, and focus on their idea of (big t) Truth. I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, the Yahwall.

Overall, I think I will continue to study folks like Craig. I love to hear opposing ideas, especially when they are framed by someone who clearly knows much more than me. Plus this will help me in my next project, figuring out what caused the emotional break-up of Atheism and Philosophy (A shame, they were so cute together).

Oh well, I’m going to look up more videos of people screaming for help from invisible sky people. I already learned how to speak in tongues, and that Obama (a Christian) is trying to round up and kill all Christians.

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