Christian Apologetics… in Reality

I must admit that this week’s comic presents a bit of a straw man. If only for the earnest regret the character expresses for his dogma’s inherit flaws. Its hard to capture the thought process of folks who genuinely see these contradictions as a problem yet choose to walk the line of making excuses. (that life seems so far from where I am now) Of course, not all apologetic discussions are this patently weak, but its been a while since I’ve needed my thinkin’ column.


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  • Anonymous

    True, but not for all apologetics. Some of them actually think they have a real argument, cough cough Ray Comfort cough cough.

  • Anonymous

    I don’t think Ray Comfort actually thinks he has an argument. I think he’s a cynical fraudster just wanting to fleece the gullible.

  • http://www.SecularThinker.com/ The Secular Thinker

    It’s hard to tell if he actually believes what he spews or not. Either way, it is sad but true that there are plenty of religious leaders out there who knowingly preach this stuff to make a buck or two. 

    Even more tragic are the thousands if not more preachers, rabbis, imams, priests, etc. who have realized their beliefs are unsupported but have no way out of the church. Their financial and social well being has become dependent upon the church,  something I hope will change as time goes on.

  • Rwlawoffice

    Please give a cite for your comment that there are thousands of preachers, rabbis, imams,  priests, etc. you are no longer believers.

  • http://www.SecularThinker.com/ The Secular Thinker

    Great to see you again RWLawOffice, you make an excellent request for evidence to back up my assertion. Dan Dennett and Linda LaScola  conducted a study back in 2010, located at 
    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/Non-Believing-Clergy.pdf and he provides some commentary on the subject at 
    http://newsweek.washingtonpost.com/onfaith/panelists/daniel_c_dennett/2010/03/skeptical_clergy_a_silent_majority.html

    I think it is safe to extrapolate from this relatively small study that there are religious leaders around the world how have lost their faith. Think about all of the teachers or police officers who enter their careers with a certain set of beliefs about the world, but soon change their perspective and leave their jobs because of that. Why shouldn’t the same be true of the clergy? 

    In fact, I would even assert that clergy are much more likely to be under-represented under the label of “atheists” because their livelihood depends upon the public perception of their beliefs and religious convictions, making them less likely to openly admit they no longer believe.

  • Anonymous

    Damn straight. A very astute friend of mine, formerly Jewish, told me that the most (financially) successful religious figures are just like the most successful drug dealers in one very important way. They don’t get high on their own supply. Successful preachers don’t fall for their own cons.

    He attributed that little nugget of wisdom to his rabbi.

  • Alice

     See also The Clergy Project: http://clergyproject.org/

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    Apologetics is the art of talking about a claim for which there is no evidence long enough that people begin to assume that all that talk is the evidence.

    “Well, gee willikers, thet thar ay polo jist sure uses a lotta big words, even Latin stuff, Ah think. He mus’ be rilly smart. Besides, he’s on Jesus’ side, so he’s gotta be right, even tho’ ah caynt rilly understan’ whut he’s sayin’.”

  • http://www.zazzle.com/atheist_tees The Godless Monster

    :-)
    I could almost hear the banjos being strummed in the background…

  • http://profiles.google.com/statueofmike Michael S

     Please translate “ay polo.”

  • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

    ay polo jist = “apologist”

  • http://twitter.com/happy_skeptic David

    Richard, it’s not only the Tennessee hicks who are convinced by Christian arguments. You seem to be assuming that clever people can’t be taken in by even the most outrageous nonsense, and yet it happens every day. As Sun Tzu reminds is in The Art of War, you must have true respect for your enemy if you are to defeat him. Having come from the fundamentalist camp myself, I know that there are frightfully clever people who genuinely believe their apologetics and are genuinely passionate about convincing others to believe it too. Even the people with a good dental plan.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Sure, there are those with higher degrees and seeming “intellects” that are afflicted too. By and large though, this is a lower socio-economic bracket and lesser-educated peo-ple problam. And yes, statistically speaking (with the excpetions of areas like the Research Triangle, Knoxville, and the space coast of Alabama and Florida) the south tends to have higher rates of dumb – i.e. – religious numbnuts.

  • Rwlawoffice

    What a misguided, stupid and egotistical comment.  

  • Kelly

    Looking at the above spelling and grammar, I have to ask: Are you one of the “lesser-educated” people that you speak of?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    yeah. I am from Alabama. Cue the banjos..

    Alabama – where X marks the signature

    (and typing fast in an Internet chat board does not mean you need to be accurate with each and every word – christ, on major stories every goo editor knows the writer is going to submit lots of typos)

  • H.sapien

    Misspellings, maybe – but bad grammar and bad syntax are not caused by fast typing!
    Those in glass houses…

  • http://twitter.com/happy_skeptic David

    There is no excuse for incivility. I consider myself a grammar nazi, but implying that someone is “lesser educated” (and, incidentally, inappropriate usage of a hyphen there) is mean-spirited and unbecoming.

  • Anonymous

    That wasn’t intentionally misspelled to demonstrate FSq’s point? Peo-ple problam? Come on…

  • Johnk

    Hi David,

    You are correct about people having genuine belief. For what it’s worth, put me down as another successful, college educated, high income bracket, city-dwelling, non hick, business owning, high IQ individual who believes in the Gospel, and that Jesus was God, etc. 

    There are no “techniques” that we teach our children, just love, faith, and their own authentic observation of what brings peace of mind and day-to-day happiness.

    I also know some frightfully clever people who genuinely believe what they preach (that the universe and all that we know spontaneously came about on its own, that there is no intrinsic right and wrong) and are passionate about convincing others to believe it too.

    (Full disclosure – I do not have a dental plan.

  • http://twitter.com/happy_skeptic David

    John,

    Perhaps you don’t come from a fundamentalist denomination, but in the Evangelical church I was raised in they did teach people how to “get around” a non-believer’s intellect and exploit emotional arguments in order to “close the deal.” I’m blanking on what the actual phrase used was, but in essence they were adapting sales techniques in order to “win another for Jesus.”

    Since you seem to be a Christian reader of the Friendly Atheist blog, do you also teach your children to seek out and examine rational evidence for their faith, as well as tolerance for others beliefs and lifestyles, and keeping your opinions to yourselves?

  • Johnk

    Where do you live? You need to get out and meet new people!

  • Ducky

    I hear banjo music. Paddle faster.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Oh get off your namby pamby horse. You said it, it was your first thought, and it shows you are just like every other person that has biases and a sense of humor.

    Your apology is (1) unnecessary and (2) nothing more than a polite version of ‘just sayin’. 

    Grow a pair Rich.

  • http://friendlyatheist.com Richard Wade

    My apology was not addressed to you.  Whatever are my first thoughts are not necessarily the best thing for me to just blurt out to people, you included. In the past, I used my wit to be downright cruel, but I grew up. Now I have the forethought, discipline, and simple decency to weigh my words carefully, and as a result, they seem to carry much more weight with people. On the rare occasions when I decide that I have spoken inappropriately, I own it and make proper amends. I might be misinterpreting you, but if by “grow a pair” you mean that you think that a conscientious apology is a sign of weakness, then I think you should reconsider that it is a sign of maturity and deep self-confidence. 

  • Anonymous

    I agree with ThSecularThinker on this some do feel that they have a legitimate argument.  However, my experience is that the apologists either do  not want to ask themselves the hard questions, or will find some arcane way to justify the answers.  Either way, it is a tough conversation for a rational or empirical evidence seeking person.

  • Henk Prijs

    scientists know that they cannot explain everything, because they see the results of what happened over billions of years and they were not present when it did happen; but believers in God think that they know what happened, and they too were not there.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

    Apologetics is the systematic study of exactly which logical fallacies may best be employed to prop up a failed argument.

  • Anonymous

    So what do you folks think of this crackpot? I was quite disturbed when I saw this weirdo going from apologetics to apoplectics, on a pulpit-pounding rant about “the end of xtianity”, going on about how humanity would one day evolve to a lifeform similar to the N’avi who would no longer need xtianity, and then calling himself an atheist! He’s inspired a number of spoof blogs and hate blogs written by atheists and religious folk alike.

    I think Hemant should debate him, if he hasn’t already.

    Check this out:

    http://debunkingcrap.blogspot.com

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Adam-Patrick/100000027906887 Adam Patrick

    Apolegetics: the art of making irrational claims seem rational

  • http://wordsideasandthings.blogspot.com/ Garren

    There’s nothing inherently irrational about religious claims.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Chris-Leithiser/593361421 Chris Leithiser

    They can be expressed as the ratio of two integers?

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_RZ5VEXJ3IYNGQBHI5APT4DETJI FSq

    Talking snakes? Rib woman? Magic tree? Virgin Birth? Bearded dude ascending to heaven on a horse?

    Yup, nothing irrational there. You got us.

    Okay guys, pack it up, Garren got us! Party is over….

  • Anonymous

    The bad apologetic arguments don’t go away because they still work on unsophisticated people, and they originally came from what Christians in the past considered great thinkers and authors of “Great Books” in the Western canon, like Augustine & Aquinas.

  • Gordon Duffy

     turns out it is easier to be considered a “great thinker” when anyone who questions your ideas gets burned at the stake.

  • Demonhype

     Very much so.  Nothing m0re infuriating than a group that sets things up so it’s the only game in town, with any and all competition, dissent, or opposition of any kind being violently suppressed, then claim that they are responsible for any good things that came out of that time, asking “well, where were your precious atheists/pagans/etc when the Church was opening universities and commissioning artwork and music (all of it, of course, supportive of the Church-based status quo)?”  Where were they?  Any unbelievers and alternative religious believers were living in terror of your godly “persuasion”, should it come out or even be suspected that they are not one with the Church’s views.

    You don’t get to torture your competition into silence and obscurity, then claim that the products of your enforced monopoly make you and your ilk superior to all other ways of thinking.  Here’s a big hint–once you no longer got to hold your jackboot on the throats of society, the vast majority of good artists and creative people strangely lost interest in singing the praises of Jebus.  Once you no longer got to hold your jackboot on the throats of society, the echo chamber  began to dissipate, discussion ensued, and it’s been a long time since any religious apologists have been considered “great thinkers”.  That only happened in the days when religious thinking was the only kind of thinking allowed.  Interestingly, it doesn’t fare well when it has to compete fairly.

  • NickDB

     “Very much so.  Nothing m0re infuriating than a group that sets things up
    so it’s the only game in town, with any and all competition, dissent,
    or opposition of any kind being violently suppressed, then claim that
    they are responsible for any good things that came out of that time,”

    Are we talking about religion or the Mafia? Wait a minute….

  • Anonymous

    Defn: Christian Apologetics – the precursor to Christian Apoplectics

  • Anonymous

    I must admit that this week’s comic presents a bit of a straw man. If
    only for the earnest regret the character expresses for his dogma’s
    inherit flaws. Its hard to capture the thought process of folks who
    genuinely see these contradictions as a problem yet choose to walk the line of making excuses.

    Oh that’s not hard at all. You just have to find yourself a socially liberal theist. They will apologetically tell you that they understand how you would be repelled by the religion because it’s followers are so often backwards and intolerant, but really that’s not the true spirit of their religion, which actually has a “core message” all about love and acceptance. Point out various horrific passages in their holy book and you’ll hear a lot about “allegory” and “metaphor”.

    To them, all of this is true. If they come from a liberal denomination they’ve been taught since birth that their god is about loving and accepting and helping. By the time they get old enough that challenges to those notions arise, they look at them and either think “Well that’s not the god I believe in! It’s just too simplistic to take it literally. Obviously it was just a metaphor” or…they become a lot of the people on this blog 😉

  • http://twitter.com/Cafeeine Cafeeine

    Actually, I think the definition is a lot simpler for a lot of these people:

    Apologetics is something to keep your mind occupied while Jesus tugs on the heartstrings.

    I have yet to hear of anyone being convinced by apologetics, but I’ve heard of several people who, while being stumped or confused by a piece of sophistic obscurantism, had some emotional experience that they attributed to a god that was talking to them. Francis Collins and C.S. Lewis come to mind.

  • Demonhype

     So it’s like the opposite of, say, sewing or knitting or some such thing to keep one’s hands occupied while you think.  This is keeping your thought processed distracted on a futile loop of some sort so you can focus on…well, crap.

  • http://twitter.com/happy_skeptic David

    Wow. Someone has obviously never engaged with a truly passionate Christian. William Lane Craig comes to mind. It’s one thing when you’re dealing with someone who is bending over backwards to apologize for presenting their faith to you, because it’s clear that they either really don’t believe it or are just rubbish at expressing themselves. However, it’s quite another thing when you have someone like WLC who is an adept speaker and a shrewd logician; who has obviously spent years studying their beliefs and can express them in a very convincing albeit aggressive manner. Maybe it’s just the circles I tend to run in, but it always seems to be the WLCs who I meet who feel the need to either save my soul or just pick a fight. Not sure which…

  • Anonymous

    I actually thought apologetics was a derogatory term when I first heard it. Precisely for the reason expressed in the cartoon. However like the word rationalization does not mean to be rational I thought apologetics meant excuse making not apologizing.

  • http://www.masterscience.webs.com/ christian apologetics

    Well there is no evidence for evolution and that’s a fact not a theory. So if you want to know what the intellectual acoustic person is thinking, it probably wouldn’t be as hypocritical as that but it is a good try. You should not assume everyone is really as uneducated about Christian Apologetics as we might be. In war the side that knows their enemy will win, and by know I mean:  know their enemies weakness. Evolution offers apologetic arguments as well but is easily dominated by the “Christian Defense” If you want to challenge Christian Apologetics, do it with anti-apologetics. That way it wont seem as hypocritical, and it is more respected among people of intellectualism.