On the need for apologetics
This quotation, from a response by William Sanday to the book Supernatural Religion, perfectly sums up my own thoughts on apologetics (my own emphases in bold), and I think it speaks for itself:
Ideally speaking, Apologetics ought to have no existence distinct
from the general and unanimous search for truth, and in so far as
they tend to put any other consideration, no matter how high or
pure in itself, in the place of truth, they must needs stand aside
from the path of science.
But, on the other hand, the question of true belief itself is
immensely wide. It is impossible to approach what is merely a
branch of a vast subject without some general conclusions already
formed as to the whole. The mind cannot, if it would, become a
sheet of blank paper on which the writing is inscribed by an
external process alone. It must needs have its "praejudicia"
i.e. judgments formed on grounds extrinsic to the special matter
of enquiry--of one sort or another. Accordingly we find that an
absolutely and strictly impartial temper never has existed and
never will. If it did, its verdict would still be false, because
it would represent an incomplete or half-suppressed humanity.
There is no question that touches, directly or indirectly, on the
moral and spiritual nature of man that can be settled by the bare
reason. A certain amount of sympathy is necessary in order to
estimate the weight of the forces that are to be analysed: yet
that very sympathy itself becomes an extraneous influence, and the
perfect balance and adjustment of the reason is disturbed.
But though impartiality, in the strict sense, is not to be had,
there is another condition that may be rightly demanded--resolute
honesty. This I hope may be attained as well from one point of
view as from another, at least that there is no very great
antecedent reason to the contrary. In past generations indeed
there was such a reason. Strongly negative views could only be
expressed at considerable personal risk and loss. But now, public
opinion is so tolerant, especially among the reading and thinking
classes, that both parties are practically upon much the same
footing. Indeed for bold and strong and less sensitive minds
negative views will have an attraction and will find support that
will go far to neutralise any counterbalancing disadvantage.
On either side the remedy for the effects of bias must be found in
a rigorous and searching criticism. If misleading statements and
unsound arguments are allowed to pass unchallenged the fault will
not lie only with their author.
(From The Gospels in the Second Century)