Thursday, March 22, 2007

Anti-Apologetics, or What Kind of Atheist Am I? (Pt. II)

Apologetics is the branch of Christian theology that consists of the defense of Christianity. That is to say, apologists strive to present Christianity in the most favorable light possible. For this reason, apologetics consists of the rhetorical moves and clever phrasings that obscure and misdirect the hapless nonbeliever's attention away from difficulties, contradictions, and unpleasantries in Christianity. Apologetics, more so than the remainder of Christian Theology, is best characterized as sleight of hand.

Anti-apologetics seeks to make public, as it were, the tricks in the magic tricks. What is the misdirection of which Christian apologists are most fond and find most essential? Typically, and most commonly, Christian apologists avoid discussing faith per se and choose, instead, to focus their energies on their putative object of faith: God, Jesus, the literal truth of Scripture, etc.

Why is this misdirection important? The misdirection obscures consideration of the psychology of faith. What are the motivations to believe? What are the different ways that people believe? Is Christian faith different from believing mundane facts?

This places a dilemma before the Christian. Either he admits that there are worldly motivations for his faith. Examples of "worldly motivations" include a cowardly fear of uncertainty, need for a father-figure, wishful-thinking, escape from painful surroundings, etc. Of course, none of these motivations are necessarily applicable in any given case. Or, the Christian proudly states that his faith is a free gift from God, and as such is without motivation. In the latter case, the question to pose: which is more likely someone who refuses to reflect on his reasons for belief or a miracle?

This strategy should be particularly threatening to Christians whose advocacy of their faith rests on appeals to the comforts of their faith.

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