The Love of Truth vs. the Sophistry of Apologetics

A major reason I blog now is because apologists annoy me.  I used to post on discussion boards, but the discussions tend to get dragged down to the lowest common denominator. 

Apologists are annoying in that they can often be anti-intellectual, but not always.  Sometimes they’re quite intellectually capable even when their focus is very narrow.  It can even take a while to realize you’re dealing with an apologist because many believers prefer to not express their beliefs openly.  That is even more annoying because I can sense that the person is filtering everything they think, but it takes effort to realize they’re not actually open to new viewpoints.  The most intelligent apologists have a knack for creating convoluted arguments and false herrrings. 

What is even worse is when they demand you defend your argument when they can’t defend their own.  I’ve spent years studying religion, and it’s a complex field.  Why would I want to deal with people who’ve only read very narrowly?  Why would want to try to spoonfeed information to those who have no respect for knowledge?  And apologists can be persistent, going around and around with the same tired ploys.

Beyond all of that, what really annoys me is that apologists are very talented at perverting the truth.  To me, truth is my faith.  When someone uses rational logic falsely or deceptively, then it pisses me off.  I just don’t understand how someone can act rationally while at the same time having little respect for rationality.

I’m not criticizing faith.  I’m all for faith, but faith and rationality are not the same thing.  Rationality limited by unquestioned beliefs is not rational at all.  Certainly, it’s acceptable for one’s faith to inform one’s rationality, but one is no longer in the realm of rationality when one’s rationality is limited to one’s faith.  As such, rationality should also inform one’s faith.  No belief should be held back from the gaze of curiosity, questioning, doubt and general intellectual inquiry.  Also, I’d even go so far to say that faith without doubt is no faith at all.

Apologetics has been a major component of our society for centuries that so much of our culture has been limited to the context of Christian assumptions.  It’s so subtle that we usually don’t even notice it. 

A simple example is a reference work such as a dictionary.  I have a Sharp electronic dictionary that uses the New Oxford American Dictionary.  It doesn’t have entries for Basilides, Valentinius, or Marcion.  These three were the earliest Christians to write commentaries on New Testament scriptures.  All of them had all or most of their works destroyed by later Christians, and the latter two were labelled heretics some decades after they left the Catholic Church.  On the other hand, there are entries for all of the later apologists and heresiologists.  Irenaeus has an entry and he was the very one who called Marcion and Valentinius heretics.

So, why is a mainstream scholarly dictionary limiting the information shown to the public according to the decrees of Catholic orthodoxy?  How did the Catholic Church gain such influence over secular scholarship?  Why would a scholar choose to follow Church orthodoxy?  Was there a Christian majority in the committee that decided what made it into the dictionary?

This is the same with all other references.  When you do an internet search about Christianity, some of the best sources of info get buried beneath the numerous apologetic sites.  When you go to Wikipedia, many of the articles have very clear religious biases.

Here are some discussions with and articles about apologists:

2 thoughts on “The Love of Truth vs. the Sophistry of Apologetics

  1. I was pointing out the sophistry of apologetics, but I dislike sophistry to whatever end it is used. As an example, some atheists can be as irrationally righeous as some theists. Check out this blog post:

    The funny thing is that rationality versus sophistry crosses certain divisions. Many atheists strongly dislike mythicist theories of Christianity. The mythicist theory questions the historicity of Jesus, but the reason many atheists dislike it because mythology is inherently suspect in its relation to religion. So, you’ll find rational Christians supporting mythicists when the rabid atheists get worked up. Here is a blog post that demonstrates:

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