Why I Do Not Find Apologetics Useful
Notes for a talk given to the UK Christian Academic Network workshop on Apologetics in February 2015, by Andrew Basden. The aim of the talk was to counter the common assumption that Christians in academic life should be doing apologetics, which he felt was missing the point of academic life.
Me: Not trained apologist. Not good at responsive argument. Found a way in which my Christian faith can be linked with, brought into, my discipline in a way that is 'appropriate' to the discipline and in a way that non-Christians appreciate.
My interest: shaping our disciplines for Christ (in the wider context of representing God wherever and whenever I am). That is bringing my Biblical-Christian viewpoint to contribute to the opening up the way creation works.
Example: Michael Faraday.
I do not find apologetics useful in this. Two sides:
- The nature of apologetics
- The nature of academic life
2. On Apologetics
- of God or God's existence
- of Christian doctrine
- of Christian morals or vision for society
(and perhaps persuasion).
Mainly rational defence, using theory or theorization and argument.
However William Lane Craig [3 March 2015]:
"provide rational warrant for Christianity's truth claims."
- Who needs it? (necessity)
- What's it good for? (utility)
WLC admits it is seldom necessary, but argues for its utility.
I'm not arguing against its necessity. I'm arguing about its utility
Three ways in which Christian apologetics is 'vital':
- vital in strengthening believers
- vital in evangelizing unbelievers
- vital in shaping culture
The latter may be seen as relevant to shaping our disciplines.
- WLC sees shaping culture is merely because it makes evangelising and strengthening more difficult
- WLC sees it solely as individualistic
- WLC assumes that Western culture is 'good'.
- I believe that humanity's body of knowledge in each discipline is of interest to God in its own right, not just for evangelism.
- Bodies of knowledge affect society.
- I don't assume Western culture is good. (c.f. Jeremiah, whom God had told that the pagan emperor Nebuchadnezzar was His tool to exile His own people)
Possible applicability of apologetics: when attacked by anti-Christian theorists. Apologetics feels exciting and sometimes addictive. That is its danger for the ordinary Christian.
First seed of doubt in me about apologetics: From an apologetics perspective, we tend to see all questioning as attack. But in fact some questioning is genuine.
Second seed of doubt: Apologetics does not convert [Andrew Faraday].
(# why apolgetics might be thought useful in IS as a social science
- Christian attitude to technology
- Christian morals in technology
3. Reasons from Academic Work
I find apologetics of little value in my academic work as a Christian, Because:
- Main reason: I tend to use Christian ideas in my work, rather than first trying to defend them.
- I see Christian ideas as suggesting new paradigms, rather than primarily amending existing theories.
- But I don't label such paradigms 'Christian', because I believe they are paradigms closer to the nature of reality rather than being specifically Christian, and that people of any belief can benefit from them. c.f. Faraday and magnetism.
- the academic role is to open up, discover, the way creation works, which involves critical thought and challenge.
- Christian thinking useful as something to open up not close down discussion
- Link between my faith and my discipline, which is based
- not on Bible verses
- not on Biblical principles
- not on Christian worldview
- but on Christian-inspired philosophical foundation for generating paradigms
- note: contribution of Christian is not refinement of theories but suggestion of better paradigms
- To use Christian ideas, rather than to first prove or defend them.
- But what about biology and the doctrine of creation?
- Is it not valid to defend the idea of God as component of one theory (6-day creation)?
- I don't believe that theories should have God as an object (as in 6day creation)
- We can be quietly confident, not defensive. And we don't attack.
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is offered to God, and you, as on-going work, this page is designed to stimulate discussion on various topics, as part of Andrew Basden's pages that open up various things from one of the Christian perspectives.
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Created: 4 March 2015.
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