This is a blog post meant to illustrate some of the problems with Christian apologetics. Christian apologetics is aimed at presenting a "rational basis" for Christian faith by defending Christianity against criticism and presenting a rational basis for their faith. According to R.C. Sproul, "The defense of the faith is not a luxury or intellectual vanity. It is a task appointed by God that you should be able to give a reason for the hope that is in you as you bear witness before the world." This is based on the following verse from the First Epistle of Peter (3:15) "...but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect." (Wikipedia)
There are conceptual and internal inconsistencies in the Christian apologetic methodology in that faith is the belief without evidence, and knowledge is belief with evidence. Since Christianity is founded on faith, that faith overrides reason and evidence when it goes against their Christian faith. The Christian apologists claim to base their faith on evidence and reason, when in fact, it is based on faith first and foremost. When evidence and reason disproves their faith, they turn their backs on the results, and forsake the knowledge gained from the results. The Christian philosopher Soren Kierkegaard recognized this problem and argued that:
"Faith is precisely the contradiction between the infinite passion of the individual's inwardness and the objective uncertainly. If I am capable of grasping God objectively, I don not believe, but precisely because I cannot do this I must believe. If I wish to preserve myself in faith I must constantly be intent upon holding fast the objective uncertainty, so as to remain out upon the deep, over seventy thousand fathoms of water, still preserving my faith." *
Kierkegaard openly admitted that Christianity was illogical, and in fact a paradox was the center of his faith. This paradox was the Christ. According to Kierkegaard, an "Absolute Paradox" of Christianity was that a temporal being would take physical shape and allow itself, or at least a part of itself, to die a terrible death. Furthermore, the Trinity itself was a paradox, unless it is accepted that any son is his father through reproduction. To accept the paradox of Christian faith was to embrace something without relying upon abstraction, something beyond basic duty to society. At the heart of Christianity is the Christian conception of the trinity--which is illogical. I posted arguments that demonstrate that this is the case. The Christian apologists cannot provide evidence for the trinity. Their belief in the trinity is founded on faith, and not evidence and reason.
Like the great American pragmatists would say, in particular Charles Peirce, the best way to fix beliefs is NOT via tenacity which is the method of tenaciously holding to ones beliefs no matter what; and NOT by authority, which is the method of going by what those in authority tell us without considering the alternative; and NOT the method of a priori, which is the method of using what is agreeable to a person's reason. It is through inductive, and in particular deductive logic and the Hypothetico-Deductive method--which is self-correcting--that we gain knowledge. When we use a deductive argument, the argument must be valid and the premises must be true, in which case, the conclusion must also be true. If the argument is not valid or sound, then the conclusion does not follow; in which case, one ought come up with another argument, or give up the conclusion. When we use the H-D method, we propose a hypothesis, and then we must present reproducible evidence that supports that hypothesis. If the hypothesis cannot be supported, then the hypothesis is given up. This is what we mean by knowledge, when we say knowledge is based on evidence. The Christian apologist's faith cannot stomach this result. That is why it prefers the aforementioned methods, which do not work as well in fixing beliefs as the H-D method. They use tenacity, ie. they will tenaciously stick to their faith despite the lack of evidence for it, or when there is evidence against it; they use authority, i.e. even when that authority has been proven to be wrong; and they use a priori, i.e. what seems agreeable to their reason when it supports their faith, and not otherwise. So, when apologists claim that they are presenting a rational basis for their faith, they are in fact, putting faith before reason. Their claim to be presenting a rational basis for their faith is only a pretense, for they are not in it to discover truth and knowledge--but only to support their faith based beliefs. Worse yet, when reason goes against their faith, they reject it outright or they use the ad hoc and/or Humpty Dumpty methods in their attempts to rationalize their beliefs and hold to their faith. Let me provide you with an example that illustrates the problem of Christian apologetics when faith comes into conflict with logic, truth, and evidence--when objective reality comes into conflict with subjective reality.
Recently, I presented an argument that proved that the Christian apologist, JW Wartick's blog post illustrated that the Bible makes no sense. Another Christian apologist by the name of Randy Everist commented on my blog, telling me I had not given arguments to support my case, and that I had not provided the proper exegesis of the text--which I actually had done. I answered all his points, and proved that my argument was both valid and sound. I wrote another post pointing out the arguments and exegesis in bold in order to illustrate that his claims were unfounded and that he had not refuted my arguments. His only response was ad hominem --all he could do was ask where I teach, and claim that I am not a "real philosopher." I showed that Randy's replies are those of a "mental baby,' and NOT those of a scholar. Another commenter that goes by the name The Truthful Heretic, made the remark that Randy might be a troll:
"The guy talks of argument in the start, and then thinks this annoying childish way of asking a repetitive personal question, is going to make it look good for him?
I'm thinking maybe he's just a troll, especially because of the "Humpty, Dumpty" as you suggested. Even if not, he is just annoying as hell!
After not being able to refute the argument, and being made to look like a fool, and thereafter trying to use tricks such as using ad hominem as a red herring, he thought he could save face by accepting the Truthful Heretic's potential way out of his predicament by claiming that he was really just a troll. As Randy himself said:
"lol. So which school do you teach at? Yeah, that's what I thought. I AM in fact just trolling, and I never knew how fun it could be! I just have a strict policy of not debating with anyone who is non-serious. Sorry. lol"
Note, that it can be seen from his comment that he has never trolled before, as he did not know how much fun it could be!--thereby telling on himself, that in fact, he was not actually trolling in the first place--he got beaten so bad, in order to save face, he would rather be called a troll! At any rate, Randy's responses to my argument were those of a mental baby or a troll. If his responses were those of a mental baby, then his responses were not those of a scholar. The definition of a troll is:
"In internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory, extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion. The verb troll originates from Old French troller, a hunting term. The noun troll comes from the Old Norse word for a mythological monster.
In modern English usage, the verb troll is a fishing technique of slowly dragging a lure or baited hook from a moving boat.The word evokes the trolls of Scandinavian folklore and children's tales, where they are often creatures bent on mischief and wickedness." (Wikipedia)
If his responses were those of a troll, then his responses were not those of a scholar. Either way, the Christian apologist Randy Everist's responses were not those of a scholar.
Here, we have a Christian apologist who could not refute my argument that the Bible makes no sense, and as a result, Randy merely resorted to debate tricks such as repeated uses of ad hominem as a red herring. To make matters even worse, in one of Randy's post's called "Debate Tactics" he also said the following:
" Though I do not condone debate tactics for the sake of winning a debate, I do want people to recognize when particular tactics are done to them. We ought not to be concerned primarily with debating, or even being right. We rather ought to be concerned with knowing and being in alignment with the truth of God. That said, many times atheists/skeptics (and even believers) evince some confusion (or outright dishonesty) when it comes to debate tactics."
Randy Everist claims that "we ought not to be concerned primarily with debating, or even being right, and that we rather ought to be concerned with knowing and being in alignment with the truth of God"--but his responses and his actions demonstrated, that in fact, he was not concerned with knowing and being in alignment with the truth of God! When the argument and evidence went against his faith, Randy Everist, by his own declaration, resorted to debate tricks and trolling--just to save face and to hide from the truth that the Bible makes no sense--and to hold onto his faith.
Randy went ad hoc by pretending to be a scholar who refuted my argument, to claiming he was just trolling after the Truthful Heretic said that Randy might be a troll because of his inability to grasp the arguments, and because of his use of ad hominem. Randy saw this as a way out of his predicament, and to avoid looking like a fool, and to hold onto his faith, he claimed to be a troll instead. However, through our interaction on this blog, Randy has illustrated what is wrong with Christian apologetics. For them, faith overrides logic and truth--which results in the use of ad hominem and these types of ad hoc responses and Humpty Dumpty Semantics when they cannot refute an opposing argument that would undermine their faith. In the face of logic and evidence that does not support their faith, or if it goes against their faith, they will hold to their faith--no matter what.
Now, let me say something more on the difference between debating and philosophy. The art of debate is usually, but not always housed in the Communications department, and not the Philosophy Department. Let me explain why. Debate is concerned with winning people over to one side or another, and not whether what they are arguing is true or not. Why, a person, if they can get away with it, can use fallacious arguments, or whatever other means (such as avoiding to answer a question that they know the answer to because it would defeat their position) A philosopher--and by philosopher, I mean a REAL philosopher--ought to be concerned with getting at the truth. The definition of philosophy is the study of knowledge, and as a philosopher, I seek truth and knowledge--not just for the sake of knowledge but to increase the overall good. As a philosopher, I use logic and the dialectical process towards that goal. On the other hand, we have Christian apologists, like Randy Everist, who only accept arguments and evidence when they are "in alignment" with their Christian faith and are only concerned with winning a debate. Randy Everest demonstrates the mental baby and troll aspects of Christian apologetics and their lack of scholarship. Since Christianity is founded on faith, that faith overrides reason and evidence when it goes against their Christian faith. The Christian apologists claim to base their faith on evidence and reason, when in fact, it is based on faith first and foremost. When evidence and reason disproves their faith, they turn their backs on the results, and forsake the knowledge gained from the results. This is one of the biggest problems with Christian apologetics--using any means necessary, regardless of whether it is true or not.
*Classics of Western Philosophy Steven Cahn. p. 1014