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The Problem with Apologetics

By Wertbag ~ 

While Christians will say God is self-evident, or known by His works, this leads to the question why are apologists required at all? Things which are known and proven do not need apologists. There are no gravity apologists for example. The only apologists are those arguing due to being unable to prove their chosen religion. Because these apologists cannot provide evidence, they are forced to try and prove their position by secondhand inference, by God of the Gaps arguments, by Gish Gallop type rhetoric, and with a heaping of incredulity.

Secondhand inference arguments are ones that point to something in the physical world and say because this thing is complex/beautiful/amazing it must have been created by God. Common examples are the complexity of life, our experience with awe inspiring or beautiful things and the fine tuning of our universe. Of course, none of these things directly point to God, but by applying additional attributes and requirements it is possible to demand God be a necessary part of these natural things. By demanding complexity comes from God or that things look designed and therefore God must be a designer, apologists can shoehorn their conclusion into the argument. Having not proven that God exists so that He could be a valid conclusion, or that the requirements being forced on nature are actually necessary, these arguments will usually fall on deaf ears.

God of the Gaps has two common uses; where did life come from? And where did the universe come from? Science currently says we have some ideas supported by the data we do have, but insufficient data to have a complete understanding, so the answer at the moment must be "I don't know". The apologist will demand you prove it is not God that did these things, knowing full well that there is no current answer. This idea of "If you can't prove me wrong, I'm right by default", might win points amongst believers, but should not be compelling to anyone looking for complete answers. Even if you were to grant the conclusion, it doesn't answer the question, other than perhaps with "magic" rather than an actual process. In reverse, if science comes up with a complete answer to how life can be created, the apologist will simply change to "Oh, that is how God chose to do it", claiming success either way and making their position unfalsifiable.

But perhaps the most frustrating arguments to come across are those based purely on incredulity. Hearing "Life is so amazing, I can't believe it didn't come from God" or "I can't imagine any other way for our universe to be like it is". This idea that the speaker has either enough knowledge to rule out all other options, or such a vast imagination that all other possibilities have been considered and rejected, is an incredibly arrogant position to hold. All "I can't imagine" can tell us is a lack of imagination. If you can't imagine something that shouldn't mean you jump to the conclusion that no one else could possibly do so. This thinking that people know enough to come to conclusions, regardless of their lack of data or knowledge, is a version of the Dunning-Kruger effect (The Dunning–Kruger effect is a cognitive bias in which people with limited competence in a particular domain overestimate their abilities.) People seem to think they are smart enough to know better, while those who are experts in the relevant fields (bio-chemists looking at abiogenesis or astrophysicists looking at the big bang) are generally able to understand the bounds of our knowledge and speak more humbly about what we currently do not know

Originally posted in the Reasons for Disbelief thread on Ex-Christian.Net