Learning Apologetics from a Skeptic

The last time I posted, I cited an article on News 24 which stated that the James Ossuary had been proven to be a forgery. As my post pointed out, the article was dead wrong because the Biblical Archaeology Review had just published an article confirming the authenticity of the inscription. Now, I had never heard of News 24 before, but suddenly it has come up again when I came across another blatantly anti-Christian and ill-informed article that I want to comment upon.

The article is entitled You Want To Be An Apologist For Christianity? posted by someone using the pen name of Rodins Thinker. The article is a rather poor attempt to make light-hearted fun of some of the tactics used by some Christian apologists. To that extent, it is an attempt (a juvenile attempt, at best) to use the same type of humor that worked so effectively in The Freethinkers' Guide to Debating Christians on the Internet. However, whereas the Freethinkers' Guide was clever, this News 24 piece simply attempts to utterly belittle Christian arguments through several logical fallacies while pretending to use logic. Now, initially, I read the article and wondered who this particular author had encountered. Take for example, the author's argument about the Christian apologists' fallacious appeals to authority.
The Appeal to Authority. God MUST exists because person x wrote a book saying he does, or “all historians agree God wrote the Bible/accept Jesus was a real person”. You can also say Ken Ham, Kent Hovind, various Creation Scientists or William Lane Craig have proved God exists. The good thing about this trick is that you don’t have to produce any evidence and can just tell your opponent to read what they’ve said.
I don't know what level of apologetics this writer has encountered, but most of us (at least, those in the CADRE) do not point to these individual authors as proof that the arguments are true. Rather, we make the arguments ourselves and defend them ourselves. When we mention someone like William Lane Craig or Alvin Plantinga, we do so to cite a source for an argument -- not to substitute for the argument being made. 

When I read this back-handed advice to the Christian apologist wannabe, I began to write a paragraph-by-paragraph refutation of what the author was saying. After all, it is apparent at several places that the person who wrote it makes several statements that prove that he or she is not particularly knowledgeable or logical. For example, the author says of the concept of Biblical Inerrancy:
First, the Bible is inerrant. Remember that! The Bible is the inerrant word of an omniscient god so it can’t be wrong. It’s inerrant. Cling to that in the face of all arguments, evidence and reason. These must all be wrong because the Bible is inerrant, otherwise God wouldn’t have said it was in the inerrant Bible.
The quote shows that the author is not really well-informed. The Doctrine of Biblical Inerrancy is not something that arose because God said the Bible is inerrant. No verse in the Bible says that the Bible is inerrant. Rather, the doctrine results from a logical extension of 2 Timothy 3:16-17 which reads, "16 All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness, 17 so that the servant of God[a] may be thoroughly equipped for every good work." So, the Doctrine of Inerrancy holds that if the Bible is God-breathed (meaning not that God dictated the Bible, but rather God used the writers to communicate exactly what he intended) and if God is perfect, then the Bible must be perfect. One does not need to agree that the Bible is inerrant to be a Christian -- many Christians do not agree with the Doctrine of Inerrancy. But there is no question that the author is obviously errant when he or she says that God said "it was in the inerrant Bible."

However, the more I thought about it, the more I decided that this News 24 article is not an article that needs refutation. Rather, it is an article that needs to be shared among Christian apologists to make a point: sometimes Christian apologists engage in tactics that are, quite simply, poor. Sometimes, we are not clear about what we are saying. I perfectly understand how some poor, illogical skeptic may not understand how the argument about the logic for the Doctrine of Inerrancy is not circular -- especially if it is presented in the way that this particular author presents it. More importantly, I suspect that there have been occasions where some poor apologist has presented it exactly the way that this article presents it. Very poor.

Thus, I encourage Christian apologists to read this article -- not because it is right or because it presents arguments that we need to answer. Rather, I want apologists to review the article to see how we are being seen. I want us to see where our arguments are being misunderstood or misrepresented. I want apologists to read this farce to see ourselves in the eyes of those who would ridicule us.

To that end and to no other, this article is worthwhile.


we are begging to see a pattern with that 24 news thing. Atheist site.
link to news 24 doesen't work
BK said…
I don't think it is an atheist site so much as one of those sites that posts anything indiscriminately and without any prior review. But thanks for the heads up. I fixed the broken link.
I notice it seems to be a south African site.

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