The Futility of Religious Apologetics
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26 / M / Pandemonium
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Posted 7/25/13 , edited 7/25/13
So I came across this video on youtube a few days ago called "The Futility of Religious Apologetics", which I found quite enlightening. It took an approach to confronting religious apologetics that I had not concidered, and upon reflection, it seems pretty much impenetrable.

It goes about the "even if" angle, taking apologetic arguments for the existence of God (any God), grants them pretty much every benefit they could have, and thus proceeds to tear them apart regardless of all their benefits. Leading to the conclution that since it doesn't even hold up in those circumstances, there's no way they can hold up in the real world where they do NOT have all these benefits.

What do you think? Is this truly impenetrable? Share your thoughts.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XYqJ5zwE4k0
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Posted 7/25/13
My problem with the video was the assumption presented towards the end that skeptics must be the audience of the apologist. From the apologist's point of view, he knows he's never going to convince the skeptic. However, others whose hearts and minds are open to religion can be convinced that religious belief is reasonable and beneficial. That's why you find apologetic books in religious bookstores, both to bolster the faith of those who already believe, and for those who are open to religion and want to learn more.

Also, the video breaks the vast variety and depth of human believe into four overly simplistic and shallow categories, and then argues against these straw men.

Finally, I'm a big fan of C.S. Lewis' apologetic writings, and after watching the video, I haven't been convinced that my time spent reading them was futile. So I guess the skeptic's argument isn't as powerful as he believes.
Posted 7/25/13
I think if any sort of "all powerful" deity needs its followers to try and prove its existence for it, then said deity can't really be all that great.

For example- it has no problem showing itself to select members of society in an age where scientific knowledge, communications, etc. are in an infantile state (circa 2000 years ago, according to its followers). But in an age where scientific inquiry, desire for proof, intelligence, etc. are at an all time high, it doesn't bother visiting, outside of its face showing up in random foods.

I don't think the question is whether said deity/deities exist or not, since in the end, we're just arguing over our definitions and preconceptions of one. The real question is: why would anyone would want to follow something that uses such a silly and inane system to try and spread its word, let alone prove itself with? Then you factor in the myriad of silly/inane design choices its used for its creations, etc. etc. etc., and you can't believe that it's anything less than either cruel, incompetent, or both.

In any case, apologetics are all about word games and such. They'll try and justify everything in their heads, and leave it at that, without considering any actual falsifiable proof as to what they're arguing for even exists in the first place. Even if said deity/deities exist, I sure as heck would avoid it at all costs.
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Posted 7/25/13

Acoleth wrote:

My problem with the video was the assumption presented towards the end that skeptics must be the audience of the apologist. From the apologist's point of view, he knows he's never going to convince the skeptic. However, others whose hearts and minds are open to religion can be convinced that religious belief is reasonable and beneficial. That's why you find apologetic books in religious bookstores, both to bolster the faith of those who already believe, and for those who are open to religion and want to learn more.


True, but what if used in a setting where a religious apologist has to answer to this? Defend his/her beliefs against these arguments?



Acoleth
Also, the video breaks the vast variety and depth of human believe into four overly simplistic and shallow categories, and then argues against these straw men.


In what way exactly would it change things if he were to go more in depth? What was it that he missed?
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Posted 7/25/13 , edited 7/25/13

Syndicaidramon wrote:


Acoleth wrote:

My problem with the video was the assumption presented towards the end that skeptics must be the audience of the apologist. From the apologist's point of view, he knows he's never going to convince the skeptic. However, others whose hearts and minds are open to religion can be convinced that religious belief is reasonable and beneficial. That's why you find apologetic books in religious bookstores, both to bolster the faith of those who already believe, and for those who are open to religion and want to learn more.


True, but what if used in a setting where a religious apologist has to answer to this? Defend his/her beliefs against these arguments?



Acoleth
Also, the video breaks the vast variety and depth of human believe into four overly simplistic and shallow categories, and then argues against these straw men.


In what way exactly would it change things if he were to go more in depth? What was it that he missed?


In a setting where you must defend to the last degree any belief, or even any fact, the skeptic will always win. For example, prove to me that people other than yourself exist.

If I'm a skeptic, I can immediately call into question all of your senses and perceptions, as it's common knowledge they can be fooled, as can all instrumentation, since instrumentation must be interpreted through flawed human senses. Therefore it is futile to argue that persons other than yourself actually exist and are not simply figments of your imagination. Even if all of your imaginary friends insist they exist and that other third parties exist, they could simply be your delusions reinforcing each other. The skeptic questioning you is also simply a manifestation of your own doubts.

But your original question was what did I think of the video...Well I find religious belief to be no more subject to skeptical refutation than any other belief, even beliefs that most folks take for granted as fact. And since I've found apologetic works to be comforting, fulfilling, and enjoyable, I don't think they are futile efforts.
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Posted 7/25/13 , edited 7/25/13


I see. Thanks for sharing.
Posted 7/26/13
I apologize for being human.

Now that I've said that, I can officially go out and rape children, then be forgiven by Christianity.
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Posted 7/26/13

Acoleth wrote:

My problem with the video was the assumption presented towards the end that skeptics must be the audience of the apologist. From the apologist's point of view, he knows he's never going to convince the skeptic. However, others whose hearts and minds are open to religion can be convinced that religious belief is reasonable and beneficial.


Nitpick, here: a proper skeptic remains open to the possibility of being convinced.

What you seem to be railing against are disbelievers - who admittedly often erroneously conflate themselves with skeptics. But there is a difference: one says "I won't believe without proof," the other says "there is no possibility of proof."
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Posted 7/26/13 , edited 7/26/13

Acoleth wrote:
If I'm a skeptic, I can immediately call into question all of your senses and perceptions, as it's common knowledge they can be fooled, as can all instrumentation, since instrumentation must be interpreted through flawed human senses. Therefore it is futile to argue that persons other than yourself actually exist and are not simply figments of your imagination. Even if all of your imaginary friends insist they exist and that other third parties exist, they could simply be your delusions reinforcing each other. The skeptic questioning you is also simply a manifestation of your own doubts.


There are a few problems with your logic here. You first purport the conjecture: "Does anyone other than you exist?" Then, you suppose that the other person says something like, "Yes, of course." Then, you ask them to prove it, and, as they stated definitively what they think they know, the burden of proof IS on them. So, no problems here.

But then you start taking the point of view of the skeptic. And this is, of course, independent of what they actually say to prove their case. You call into question all of their senses and perceptions, and then claim that it is common knowledge that they can be fooled. While this may be true, you cannot state this as fact without actual proof. You could try to tell me that there are people all over the world who can demonstrate to me that their senses can fail (you can even demonstrate that MY senses can fail), but you could never justify saying that all people's senses and perceptions can fail (this is called the fallacy of composition, where you assume that just because it is true for part of the human race, it must be true for all of the human race).

Then you purport to say that even though no other person exists (to them), they still exist. How do they know that they even exist? Your argument calls into question the existence of everything, even their own consciousness because even their perceptions and senses of themselves are faulty by assumption. This is basically forcing the other participant to commit the Psychologist's Fallacy, where they must presuppose the objectivity of their own perspectives (to justify that they themselves exist) so that they can analyze the outside world, and this is a direct contradiction to the assumption that their perceptions are faulty, forcing them to create their own logical fodder to feed your argument's "merits".

A skeptic should not be closed to another interpretation. They are skeptical for a reason, that is true, but if the proof presents itself, they must remove their doubt. Otherwise, there is no need to even speak AT ALL. You want to avoid situations where you must argue about complex things that you weren't even required to prove in the first place.
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Posted 7/27/13 , edited 7/27/13

Elektrawnik wrote:

I apologize for being human.

Now that I've said that, I can officially go out and rape children, then be forgiven by Christianity.
But you'll never be forgiven by faulty humans. I really like your analogy, and how I've responded points out what standard we are really held accountable by. If God forgives unconditionally what's the point of it as a moral standard? Why not worry just about the moral standards of fellow humans? Because we fail, "sin" and stumble is not a reason to invalidate our morals, on the contrary because we tend not to forgive even for the littlest things we have a far stricter standard than God (just want to clarify I'm an atheist), if we live a life that passes this standard, God's morals are irrelevant.

Posted 7/27/13

JustineKo2 wrote:


Elektrawnik wrote:

I apologize for being human.

Now that I've said that, I can officially go out and rape children, then be forgiven by Christianity.
But you'll never be forgiven by faulty humans. I really like your analogy, and how I've responded points out what standard we are really held accountable by. If God forgives unconditionally what's the point of it as a moral standard? Why not worry just about the moral standards of fellow humans? Because we fail, "sin" and stumble is not a reason to invalidate our morals, on the contrary because we tend not to forgive even for the littlest things we have a far stricter standard than God (just want to clarify I'm an atheist), if we live a life that passes this standard, God's morals are irrelevant.



Something tells me I'd be forgiven by faulty humans that enjoy rape and not forgiven by those who detest it.

The irrelevancy of any god's morality stems back to the humans that doubtlessly created them. As it has been seen thus far in history, no one could provide physical evidence of divinity. Faith being belief without proof is where spirituality trips and falls. Morality comes in all colors and sizes. From ambiguity, absolutist, or whatever works for the next Joe. Some being religious, others being more like common sense, and vice versa.

The strictness standards we contrived seem driven by the willingness to control, though not always out of a corrupt upper class who utilize the peons for their own gain. Pious maniacs will enforce the most meticulous moral codes, punishing the slightest infractions with severity. You then have adherents who obey out of intense fear that robs them of freedom they can't conceive of mentally. People lose their individuality under a veritable religious dictatorship, serve their demeaning menial purposes, and die miserably leaving behind many subsequent generations of fearful, willing slaves.

Morals have acted as a sort of cap for our actions. With no morality, we gain endless freedom. But limits apply to it based on outside factors, such as doing something to others who view that as a crime. Consequently, they decide to stop you from doing whatever they happen to be against, removing the freedom you had before.

So then we get to forgiveness. Would a person with no morals be influenced by those who do to the point where they decide to pardon the crime committed out of knowing said person was immoral? I suppose it comes down to this idea of grace which leaves a new layer of discussion open. The person who was immoral before becomes moral, so he/she offers a sincere apology for the crime committed. Accepting an apology relies on the feelings of the recipient of the apology and all they were made to understand regarding the situation.

The religious apologetic, I feel, needs to understand what harm they do and why it causes so much suffering, rather than just proclaiming sorrow for offenses to their god(s) in order to avoid punishment. Lip service isn't enough to atone for causing harm and detecting true feelings and understanding in a person remains a challenge with often shady conclusions.
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Posted 7/31/13 , edited 7/31/13
I'm a religious apologetic, but I'm not religious nor do I believe in God. I defend religion because I've seen good and bad come from many things. It is ultimately up to the individual and how they interpret any data they receive. Some people's beliefs are very important to them and as such, I believe they shouldn't be persecuted for having them.

I do understand that harm is caused in the name of religion, but I also see that harm can be caused in the name of anything. I don't seek to control the thoughts of others, and I wouldn't want to. I believe life is really only lived through the imagination of yourself, and if you find certain beliefs to be useful to you, then so be it. Human nature is the cause of harm, whatever tool used is merely an excuse. Base emotions and primal imperatives influence us more than any belief system we can obtain. The actual words of any story don't inherently cause harm, just as a knife doesn't inherently cause harm. The individual wielder of the tool makes that determination and if it weren't a knife (religion), it would be something else (land, greed, property, women, wealth, resources, etc). I don't think the world would be much different in the absence of religion. I simply think our motivations would be different.

Ultimately, I'm an ignostic. So I don't believe the conversation of God is even really relevant because it can have practically ANY meaning. Some believe God is simply love, and have no further attributes to the definition.

I think tolerance is the greatest lesson any of us can learn, because it is truly intolerance that breeds the most harm and you don't need a religion to be intolerant.
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Posted 8/5/13
I'm not going to go through how at the start of the second century CE. Christians, using this " Apologetic " Philosopy to quell paegan public opinion & The Roman Authorities, But these " Apologetics " were wrong for doing so in the first place, Wrong for mixing worship of God with Politics of man.

Whatever success these apologists might have had in defending their faith, they had nonetheless committed a serious error in their defense. How so? The apostle Paul reminded Christians that among the spiritual weapons at their disposal, none is more potent than “the word of God,” which “is alive and exerts power.” With it, Paul said, “we are overturning reasonings and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God.”—Hebrews 4:12; 2 Corinthians 10:4, 5; Ephesians 6:17.

On the night before he was killed, Jesus told his disciples: “Take courage! I have conquered the world.” (John 16:33) The trials and tribulations that he experienced in the world had not overcome his faith and his loyalty to his Father. Similarly, the last surviving apostle, John, wrote: “This is the conquest that has conquered the world, our faith.” (1 John 5:4)

Although the apologists wanted to defend the Christian faith, they made the wrong choice in adopting the ideas and the approach of worldly philosophy. In so doing, the apologists allowed themselves to be seduced by such philosophies and, in effect, allowed the world to conquer them and their brand of Christianity. So rather than being champions and defenders of true Christian faith, the apologists of the early church, perhaps unwittingly, fell into the trap set by Satan, who “keeps transforming himself into an angel of light.”—2 Corinthians 11:14.

The clergy and theologians of the churches today have largely followed in the same path. Instead of defending true Christianity by using God’s Word, they often downgrade the Bible and resort to worldly philosophy in their teaching in an effort to win over public opinion and the establishment. Rather than sounding a warning against the dangers of following the unscriptural trends of the world, they have become teachers who do their best to ‘tickle the ears’ of their listeners in order to win adherents. (2 Timothy 4:3)

Sadly, as did the early apologists, these teachers have ignored the apostolic warning: “Look out: perhaps there may be someone who will carry you off as his prey through the philosophy and empty deception according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ.” And we are reminded that “their end shall be according to their works.”—Colossians 2:8; 2 Corinthians 11:15.

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