Okay, this one’s been bugging me off and on for a year. I see the term dropped randomly in questioning blogs, atheist blogs and videos, Christian articles, etc. It seems self-evident to a lot of people, but not to me. And I think it’s the term.
When I first heard the word “apologetics,” I first asked myself “what exactly are they apologizing for?” Then I realized I’ve never met a Christian in my family that’s apologized for anything, so I figured that might not be accurate.
Apparently, from what little I’ve found, “apologetic” has the meaning derived from Plato’s time. I remembered there was a writing of his called “The Apology,” and I realized it was an argument, a defense of something (in this case, a formal defense of Socrates before the court)
So I wondered some more and realized when I bumped into bloggers like The Closet Atheist (I love her work), that when they reflected on their religious upbringing and instruction, and they mentioned Apologetics classes, that it was all about defense tactics.
Argument defense, it seems: to defend Christian beliefs (whatever kind from whatever denomination it seems) against those who don’t believe or refuse to hear.
I’ve seen bits of this before, but didn’t know what it was called. I realized some of the “lessons” being taught to kids in organizations like Answers from Genesis at The Ark Encounter and Creation Museum are all about building a (credible?) defense against nonbelievers. I just never heard it referred to as apologetics til the past few years.
But I still get the shivers and disgust when I see video segments of these leaders teaching an auditorium full of kids what to tell people when they say the Noah’s flood story is wrong, and all these child-voices just parrot what the speaker says back to him or her.
I can’t help it–what’s next, flat earth teachings? It’s indoctrination, and I feel pretty bad for these kids when they get to a public junior high and get some science in them…or worse, go to evangelical Christian schools their whole required years and learn nothing else until college…if they go at all.
And apparently, apologetics have always been there. I thought it was something that came out around the same time as the prosperity gospel, or maybe it was some off-shoot that came about due to televangelism. But apparently it’s been there all along, just not really named or not that often that I could see.
It makes sense, though–Paul had to defend the new faith from non-believers and authorities and get people on his side. Christianity swept the world and apparently, not much was heard about or needed in the case of apologetics, at least not in Europe or not recorded sufficiently.
But why has the term become so common all of a sudden (at least, it sure feels that way)? Are that many people turning away from the Christian churches that religious colleges and other institutions have to offer classes (or require them) in apologetics so as to have these young people defend Christianity against the rest of the world?
I’m guessing that’s a part of it, and it feels like a move out of fear. Fear that science will destroy god and therefore Christianity, and there’s a need to develop arguments that would stand up to skeptical, scientific inquiry so as to convert or confound the other speaker.
The biggest difference I’ve seen so far is this: scientists are often willing to say “I don’t know” and tell others that that’s okay. I can’t recall any evangelical Christian having the same ability or desire to say those words in a conversation.
Granted, I’ve barely dived into this topic, and no wonder since I’ve been confused as to what the hell “apologetics” means, but I guess I’m getting a start.
I’m going to start gradually picking up the Bible again and reading a few different versions of it. I think I’ll start simply with my old children’s Bible that I got as a baby, just to get the gist of the stories inside. I periodically thumbed through it in my youth (or when I was bored), but I don’t think I ever read it all the way through. Guess now that I’m a lot older, I can give it a whirl and just soak it in without a lot of pre-judgment, just read it like any other book.
Yeah, I got my copy of the King James Version when I was about 7 or 8 and so I didn’t go back to the kid’s version (feeling more mature with this complicated book and all–facepalm, now that I think about it). No other kid in church had the kiddie version of the Bible I had, and I felt a little silly bringing it with after the first day at this nondenominational church.
It didn’t occur to me til later that with all the complicated language in my version of the Bible–the same version most kids had in that kids church room–that these kids probably didn’t know any more from the Bible than I did, or what their parents or teachers told them it said. I should’ve kept the kiddie bible with me and read it more often.
Anyhoo, I guess I’ve got a new study project in between everything else going on this year. I don’t really get Christianity these days, and I constantly question my upbringing. Maybe it shows because I’ve had many people try to ask/tell me about Jesus in public (I’ve known of him my whole life and was raised Pentecostal and Evangelical [shudder]), and I’ve tried to get away from the conversation. Do I have “questioning” tattooed on my forehead? It’s probably a big chunk of the reason why I’ve avoided family on Facebook, since some of them used to either post pics of their kids occasionally or throw Bible quotes all over the feed.
I’m not a fan of being preached to, to say the least. I’d like some info, maybe, but the chance to pursue it myself, not have it drilled into my head by somebody who has this holier-than-thou complex or wants to score brownie points with their friends, visible or not.
And I think I’ll do a deeper dive into Apologetics to figure out their arguments better and get an idea where it comes from.
In the meantime, it’s a beautiful day and after I take the dogs outside again, I’m going to clean house, put my guitars up, read a bit, and watch some of the most spiritually questioning movies I have in my collection: Saved!, Dogma, and Constantine.