I have been listening to various apologists for a good while. Many of them are obviously very intelligent and accomplished. People such as the key researcher for the Human Genome Project, Dr. Francis Collins. And the ever present Dr. William Lane Craig.
At some point in discussions they start sounding like lawyers who "mind melded" with used car salesmen. They exploit the gaps in our scientific understanding. They use semantics and cleverly disguised language misdirection in their quest to forge science so that it fits in with their beliefs.
I remember hearing the famous physicist Richard Feynman talking about what motivates him. Basically he felt "nature will reveal herself as she is". Why go investigate something if you already know the answer? If you go to bed at night having to convince yourself that your beliefs are correct in spite of all indications, is that honesty?
Even if they do honestly believe in God and the Bible, why do they care about science being at odds with beliefs? A faithful believer is honest and doesn't care about facts. It's all an illusion or whatever. I have more respect for that.
What do you guys think about apologists? Are they being honest in their efforts force discovery to fit their goal?
What do you guys think about apologists?
I think there is no place for active-apologetics or theology in Universities. I find it flabbergasting that they still have their own faculties and departments.
Are they being honest in their efforts force discovery to fit their goal?
Their intellectual integrity is totally dubious.
The problem I have with apologists like Craig is that they start out by asserting a God must exist and arriving at the conclusion that it is the Christian god. One premise of his Kalam Cosmological Argument is that because “the Universe began to exist” that it must be caused by something and that something must be unchanging and exist timelessly outside of the Universe. He sees God as a ”logically necessary entity”. I had argued in a previous blog on Craig that his arguments can be easily debunked. However I have changed my mind on that. Not because they can’t be but because you need to know a serious amount of physics, philosophy and the history of the debate back to Aquinas and his Summa Theologica before you can counter it correctly. Craig cannot be dismissed offhand. He is very knowledgeable and a good debater. As an ex member of TA once told me, Craig would have you for lunch if you entered the debate unprepared.
Considering the KCA has its origins in Muslim culture I have wondered why he does not reach the conclusion that Allah is the god that did it. Haha.
It is apologists at the lower end of the scale that really annoy me. They are pseudointellectuals and reign supreme on town hall stages where their arguments are often unsound but go unchallenged because the audience are already believers. They just go to the show for a fix of confirmation bias. Their uncritical minds will absorb the bullshit and they are happy to pay for the privilege of listening to concepts they can vaguely grasp. Geez…all those big words…it must be true…praise the lord. They leave thinking they have had the existence of their presupposed god proven to them. (message to self…breathe in)
Here is an old post by Kevin Harris who prepared podcasts for Craig. It is a little out of sync as some posters have left TA.
It is apologists at the lower end of the scale that really annoy me.....
Exactly. The Grand Canyon was formed in a month's time, don't yah know?
My most hated course I was forced to take in Philosophy was on the Summa Theologica. I hated every paragraph of that book...butchering Aristotle's Physics. At the end I wrote an essay pointing out a few inconsistencies (not criticising the book in itself...just pointing out some clear problems with the text). My seminar supervisor admitted there were some problems with the text but failed me. I had to write a less negative paper so I took a chapter that was nearly identical to a chapter from Aristotle's Physics and did an unremarkable commentary on it. I passed with good marks and praise. The point was (and the lesson I learnt was) the only way philosophy is useful to apologists and theologians is when it is written and critiqued according to their own rules. They take their axioms as blatantly obvious when they are not, terms become watery when a clear definition is problematic, scientific evidence is quoted when it serves them and is attacked and questioned when it gets in their way.
Once you steer the direction of the conversation back to an objective and critical playing field (if you can ever get an apologist to do so) their arguments usually fall apart. I have found it a million times easier to debate a post-modernist fairly and without trickery than with an apologist/theologian.
They take you out to lunch because their rhetoric is amongst the most refined, graceful and subtlety charming in all of academia.
I had to write a less negative paper so I took a chapter that was nearly identical to a chapter from Aristotle's Physics and did an unremarkable commentary on it….
A client (Christian) at work today asked me what I was smiling at but I declined to explain and just said I was looking forward to the weekend. Later I was thinking that maybe I should have……. :-)
The study of theology, as it stands in the Christian churches, is the study of nothing; it is founded on nothing; it rests on no principles; it proceeds by no authority; it has no data; it can demonstrate nothing; and it admits of no conclusion.
Source: The Age of Reason, from "The Life and Major Writings of Thomas Paine",
Thomas Paine. A seriously under-appreciated philosopher :)
Yes, the danger of the likes of Craig, like any good salesman, is they have their patter so honed that you cannot help but be beguiled by their spiel. It's like Zeno's Paradox. You know something is not right about it but you cannot find the correct way to disprove what they are saying.
I sometimes wonder though whether Craig sits and thinks of the amount of work he has to go through (formal logic theory, philosophical and linguistic gymnastics) to demonstrate that there is a magic man who loves everyone so much he's had to watch them kill and torture each other in his name. I'd be a bit disillusioned myself.
Do they honestly believe what they say? Sure, some do (i.e. Dr. Greg Boyd). Do they start with a preconceived notion and then construct abstract, often circular arguments to support it? Yes.
The interesting thing is the lengths they go to to prop up their beliefs while ignoring the overwhelmingly obvious problems with their arguments. Paraphrasing, Upton Sinclair, 'it's difficult to get a man to understand something, when his [intense self interest, self image, social standing, livelihood] depends on his not understanding it'.
"I'm going forth to conduct an investigation to prove what I believe is true" is antiscientific. A true scientist formulates a hypothesis and then does his best to disprove it.
As a former apologist, who recently got into a small spat with his publisher (who wanted me to be an apologist), the short answer is no, most do not. They are only repeating a deception - something they've been told but not necessarily discovered or investigated themselves. A persuasive argument doesn't always need evidence, it just needs to sound appealing to the ear for it to be accepted.