I am a believer in the importance of apologetics. Really I am! However, as I have argued previously, when apologetics is done badly it can do more harm than good.
Apologetics can go wrong in various ways. You may have a good case for faith but present it in the wrong way or at the wrong time or to the wrong person.
Apologetics can also go wrong by offering trite answers to serious and difficult questions. Here is an example I came across today.
This is a well produced little video and it is intended to provoke thought rather than to offer a detailed philosophical defence of God in the face of evil. Nevertheless, it offers a trite and simplistic "answer" to a deeply serious issue that for many people is a very existentially troubling one. As such, while it may be helpful to people who don't think deeply it is liable to backfire on many who struggle with it.
The disanalogy between the dentist and God is so glaringly obvious and also so clearly relevant to the argument that as soon as one starts to ponder the patient's case for God it falls apart like a sandcastle in your hands.
The problem is that a clearly bad argument is presented as a stunning stop-the-atheist-in-his/her-tracks argument. This makes Christians look smug and dumb (and more than a little insensitive). It raises the worry that if this is the best Christians can do then perhaps the atheists are right. Hence, the apologetic backfires.
This kind of apologetics makes me angry. I would rather a believer said that they do not know the answer to a question (if they don't) rather than offer up this kind of bullshit, albeit well-intentioned bullshit.
- Robin Parry
- Robin Parry is the husband of but one wife (Carol) and the father of the two most beautiful girls in the universe (Hannah and Jessica). He also has a lovely cat called Monty (who has only three legs). Living in the city of Worcester, UK, he works as an Editor for Wipf and Stock — a US-based theological publisher. Robin was a Sixth Form College teacher for 11 years and has worked in publishing since 2001 (2001–2010 for Paternoster and 2010– for W&S).