Tuesday, September 1, 2015


Not long ago I didn't know what an apologist was. Now they seem to be everywhere.

I enjoy watching the British television show Father Brown. Once, after watching the show, I decided to go on the internet to read about it, and this is where I discovered the strange world of apologetics. I already knew that Father Brown was based on the writings of G. K. Chesterton, but I didn't know that Chesterton is considered to have been a Christian apologist.

Before going on I would like to examine the words apologist and apologetics. My wife is a living dictionary. She is also a living repository of song lyrics of a certain era, but that doesn't apply here.

I asked my wife about the word apologist. She, of course knew what it meant, but only partly. The word actually has two meanings. Strangely, the meanings seem to contradict one another.

The religious meaning:

Apologetics (from Greek ἀπολογία, "speaking in defense") is the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of information. Early Christian writers (c. 120–220) who defended their faith against critics and recommended their faith to outsiders were called apologists.
The political meaning:
In political usage, apologetics is used in a negative fashion to describe the defence of controversial actions or policies, like terrorism or politically repressive governments.
My wife was aware of the second meaning, but not the first. Other sources use the word propaganda to define the word, my wife was aware of this.

After being raised by Catholic parents plus twelve years of Catholic schooling and attending countless Catholic Masses I had not heard of the word, until Father Brown illuminated me.

The word seems weird and strange to me. Notice how far back in time the first meaning goes (c. 120-220). Notice, as I've already said, how the meanings seem to contradict one another. It is a strange word. No wonder the Christians use it. I think that trying to defend faith through the "systematic use of information" is an impossibility. No matter how much "information" one takes from the Bible or some other ancient text, faith is still faith. No amount of "speaking in defense" changes that. Yet, there is an endless amount of this speech from the apologists, and all of it seems totally useless. I don't understand what the point is. If one has faith why does one need to defend their position? I think this all about convincing non-believers, the rationalists. I imagine the apologists thinking to themselves: "Faith is irrational, therefore we will use irrational thinking to convince the rationalists. However, we need to lie first. We need to convince others that our irrational thinking is actually rational." The best that they have is irrational propaganda.

I think that the second meaning is applicable to the way that the religious apologists use the word. I think that religion is propaganda, negative, controversial and repressive. I wonder how many Christian Apologists are aware of the second meaning. I wonder if any of them see the irony. Terror certainly has been and is used by religion. Do as god says or go to hell. Burn the heretics at the stake. Stone the unbelievers, chop off their heads. The gods may differ but the concept remains the same. Yet the apologists think that they can defend these positions with their twisted sense of logic and "information".

Since reading about Chesterton I found out that Jerry Coyne frequently writes about religious apologists.

Now, as I said apologists, seem to be everywhere. I'll try to examine this more in the future.

0 comments - Post a comment :

Post a Comment