By HonestDiscussioner

Religion, Philosophy, Politics, and anything else I'd like to talk about


Monday, July 16, 2012

The Sad State of Christian Apologetics

If you are a believer, let me tell you what I won't be doing here today. I will NOT be arguing that God does not exist. I will not be asking you to abandon your religion. Nothing I say here will is intended by me to lead you to the conclusion that God or gods or the supernatural cannot or does not exist. What I will be doing, is trying to show you the sorry state of affairs in apologetics, specifically Christian apologetics; that while your belief in Jesus or God may be perfectly reasonable given what you personally know and understand, that much of the faith placed in the apologetics community seems ill-placed.

On my friend Shaun's blog polyskeptic that he shares with a number of his partners, he went over some of the mishandling that members of the Christian community were guilty of in regards to the implications of the Higgs-Boson discovery (or incredibly 99.9%+ certainty of said discovery). Since the Higgs-Boson was labeled "The God Particle", many a believer have assumed that the particle is evidence for a god, or even the Christian "God". I agree with Shaun when he rhetorically asks "How can theists claim that a discovery that demystifies a major, previously unanswered, question about the physical world is bad for atheism?"

Despite how off-base such conclusions as the pro-theism God Particle claims are, that's not what I want to talk about. Moreso, it is about the implications of the arguments made in this blog Shaun cited as making that claim.

I can forgive a certain amount of ignorance. I think we all should be aware that many people have reached false beliefs based off of faulty information, and that I am certainly included in that category, and it is likely you are as well. Bad conclusions based off of information (good or bad) however, is a far worse crime, and we find the author guilty of this as well.

Consider the following statements made on the blog in question:

"If you're a Christian, then you're enjoying the Higgs boson news because it only confirms what you've already personally experienced: There is a God and you can have a relationship with Him by believing in Jesus Christ."

Let us assume, for the moment, that the Higgs-Boson particle does indeed point to some sort of supernatural entity. Even if we take that clearly inaccurate statement as fact, why in the world would we assume that it is confirmation of not only Jesus's existence and place as the one and only God, but that belief in him will certainly create and encourage a relationship with him?  While the author prefaces his statement with bible verses that claim Jesus is that which holds the universe together, the discovery of just such a thing in no way implies that it is Jesus that is behind it. Again, even if we assume it is a supernatural force, nothing about the force would imply that it had anything to do with Christianity.  There would have to be SOMETHING that causes things to work the way they do, so what the author does here is set it up so that ANY discovery no matter what it is would confirm Christianity in his eyes.

Ay, there's the rub. When any and ever possible state of affairs will lead you to one single conclusion, when there is absolutely nothing that could happen which would disconfirm your belief, then every justification you have must be called into question. If I argued that a specific sports team was the best, and cited both great victories and crushing defeats as evidence for this belief, would you not be skeptical of my ability to reason? If I said "Wow, did you see how they tied in every single statistic? They really showed they are far superior to their competition!", would you not question whether I knew what I was talking about? I'd say so, and towards that end, I think a similar question should be levied against such apologists of whom see everything as a confirmation of their God, such as the author of this blog.

You may think I am being too harsh, after all I am only citing a single instance. I understand that sentiment, and in a way you are correct. Not every person who argues for the existence of God is like that. Each individual should be measured by their own actions, there is no question in that. This author is, however, far from the only example we can find of such single-minded reasoning. Over and over again, when I read Christian blogs that discuss some new type of evidence, the only thing they can see is how it so obviously confirms their beliefs on the most detailed level, and frankly I find this is indicative of the sad state of affairs in Christian apologetics. The once proud institution that produced the vast majority of western philosophy throughout the middle ages now more closely resembles the political spin we see on the 24 hour networks, where even the greatest defeat or embarrassment is pretended to mean nothing short of total victory for your team.

If there truly is a good amount of reason and evidence for your belief system, you do not need to use such tactics, you can afford to say something doesn't entirely help your case. Nobody sees a tree fall down in a storm and cite that as showing how bad deforestation is.

I submit this to you as a cautionary tale against putting blind faith in people merely because they profess similar beliefs to yours and actively defend them.  Maybe there is a God, and maybe that God is named Jesus Christ, but even if that is true, it doesn't mean that every argument in favor of Jesus is a good one, and promoting bad ones hurts the entire cause, and causes those opposed to the idea to introduce their head to the wall several times over.