How not to do apologetics, Part 1: Why buying a glass of milk does not demonstrate a person's culpability before God
In a recent Triablogue post, Patrick Chan links to a brief apologetic for Christianity by Douglas Jones, in which Jones makes the remarkable claim that in performing such a seemingly mundane task as buying a bottle of milk, the average person actually betrays the knowledge (or at least the belief) that Christianity is true, because only Christianity undergirds the tacit assumptions about the nature of reality that such a task takes for granted. It follows that the average person's failure to explicitly acknowledge this truth is due to that person's desperate attempt to evade God's claim upon his or her life and the truth that he or she is a sinner, the fitting object of God's wrath.
I do not think Jones' apologetic is a very good one, and in this post and the next one I want to highlight what I see as its weaknesses. In so doing I do not mean to attack Jones personally or (God forbid) undermine the truth of the Gospel. My main purpose is to issue a note of caution to overzealous apologists who, starting from the Apostle Paul's claim that "[Sinners] know the truth about God because he has made it obvious to them" (Romans 1:19), are tempted to take intellectual shortcuts by insisting that certain data of human experience have much clearer theological implications than they really do. Even C.S. Lewis, after presenting in considerable detail a moral argument for the existence of God which established that there is a moral law, given by a divine Lawgiver, which we continually break, conceded that "I am not yet within a hundred miles of the God of Christian theology." (Mere Christianity, p.25) He understood that more argumentative work had to be done in order for the Christian claim to be even prima facie compelling. Paul's comments on the psychology of sin are no excuse for a sloppy apologetic. Of course, in calling Jones' apologetic 'sloppy' I acknowledge my own burden of proof, so on to the text itself.
Jones begins by raising the possibility that we may be radically mistaken in our view of the world: it would be quite possible to wake up one morning and suddenly realize that "