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Thursday, September 13, 2007

Christian Radio Watch: Lee Strobel - The Rock Star of Christian Apologetics

The one thing that always cracks me up about Bible apologetics is that it is an attempt to give evidence for something that you are supposed to take on faith. I mean any one can have faith in something that seems likely and for which a strong case can be made. It takes actual faith to believe in crazy stuff that your mind is constantly rejecting. But of course no can one silence that little voice of common sense completely so apologetics is the result.

As I was saying in my previous post there has been an upsurge in interviews defending the historical accuracy of the bible and the historicity of Jesus. And this interview with Lee Strobel is a great example of that. His interview is a special gem since he is able to condemn bible scholars who don't believe the bible is 100% true as the equivalent of the DaVinci Code conspiracy theorists and then implies that "militant" atheists are the equivalent of 9/11 hi-jackers.

Any way, you can hear it from the master here.




Blogger Vinny said...

I was recently discussing my objections to Strobel with an evangelical Christian who suggested that I contact Strobel himself with my questions. Personally, I think every Christian who has ever challenged a skeptic to "look at the evidence" should be able to defend apologetics himself. Otherwise, they should have the intellectual honesty to admit that their faith is based on subjective personal experience rather than objective empirical evidence.

Sat Sep 15, 02:04:00 PM  
Blogger evtujo said...

What's funny is that I actually think much of Bible apologetics is quite good (e.g. defense of the Book of Daniel being written during the Babylonian exile). Perhaps it's not good in a rigorous sort of historically sound way. But much is somewhat convincing nonetheless. If I had come across some of Lee's books while I was starting my skeptical phase of my religious ponderings who knows what effect that would have had.

When I see a debate between a knowledgable (skeptical) bible scholar and a biblical literalist, I inevitably agree with the skeptic. But if I was only exposed to the apologetics side, I wouldn't have the depth or breadth of scholarship to respond in an intellectually satisfying way.

I think the key for me at least is the the best apologists can ever really hope to acheive is to show that their suppositions are necessarily false. Unfortunately they have a nasty habit of upgrading "not impossible" to "mostly probably" but you still have to give them props.

Well you don't have to, but I do on occassion.

Sat Sep 15, 09:47:00 PM  
Blogger Vinny said...

I was a Bible believer for a time in my late teens because it seemed to provide the meaning that I was looking for in my life. Even as a believer, I found books like Josh McDowell's "Evidence that Demands a Verdict" extremely disappointing. All the arguments just seemed to take for granted that accounts written thirty to fifty years later could be accepted as verbatim transcripts of Jesus's statements and perfect records of his actions and those of his followers. I never saw anything that I thought even the most open-minded skeptic would find convincing.

My problem with Strobel is not simply that he only gives the apologetics side. It is the fact that he pretends to be examining both sides by portraying himself as a hard-headed investigative reporter who is asking the experts tough questions. He is just hanging his readers out to dry if they should ever get into a discussion with someone who has some real knowledge of the subjects.

Sun Sep 16, 07:38:00 AM  
Blogger evtujo said...

THIS: I think the key for me at least is the the best apologists can ever really hope to acheive is to show that their suppositions are necessarily false.

SHOULD HAVE BEEN: I think the key for me at least is the the best apologists can ever really hope to acheive is to show that their suppositions AREN'T necessarily false.

Sun Sep 16, 07:46:00 AM  
Blogger evtujo said...

I probably give them too much credit. I just think for someone who really wants to beleive some of their arguments can feel quite compelling which is all it would take for most people.

Even now when I pick up a book like C S Lewis's Mere Christianity I'm always surprised how clear and reasoned his arguments seem at first glance.

Sun Sep 16, 07:48:00 AM  
Blogger Vinny said...

I have not looked at “Mere Christianity” in a long time, but I still find “The Screwtape Letters” delightful. Somehow, C.S. Lewis does not strike me as making the same kind of claims that Strobel and McDowell do.

I agree that apologetics can be effective at comforting the believer, but I think it comes at the high cost of blurring the lines between knowledge based on objective empirical evidence and that which is based on subjective personal opinion. Having convinced themselves that their faith in the Bible rests on persuasive evidence when all they really have is a showing “that their suppositions aren’t necessarily false,” evangelical Christians readily claim that other issues are proven beyond doubt based on negligible evidence. For example, some evangelical Christians assert that global warming is a proven hoax based on a few scientists who doubt the prevailing view. Many claim that evolution is a pack of lies because some creationist think tank has made a plausible argument concerning intelligent design. Some claim that all homosexuals can become heterosexuals because a few Christian counselors claim success with reparative therapy.

I have been involved in several discussions along these lines about the curriculum in our local high school. I would like the curriculum to be based on the best scholarly opinion in the fields of biology, sociology, psychology, geology and climatology. However, a vocal minority of conservative Christians insist that opinions dictated by their interpretation of the Bible should be considered every bit as factual as findings coming out of leading research universities. I think this is why I am reluctant to give the current stars in the field of apologetics much credit.

Sun Sep 16, 11:40:00 AM  
Blogger evtujo said...

I guess what's amazing to me is that you can take a bad/unlikely hypothesis and run so far with it. As I said I wonder what effect these writing would have had on me in my tentative first steps at doubt. Possibly the first taste of skepticism would have already made an irrevockable change in my mind/heart. Perhaps not. I like to think that I'm a logical, clear thinking individual who cares about the truth. But *everyone* thinks that about themselves to some extent. Doubting was *very* painful, it's always possible that even a feeble lifeline from my former life of faith would have been enough to tether me to that world for a while longer or indefinitely. I just find it an interesting question, since there doesn't seem to be anything that could reel me in now.

While I do think there are many hucksters in the world of religion, I really do believe that Lee and his ilk *really* believe they are being intellectually honest and rigorous. Which is another puzzle. How do I know that I am as honest to my self as I think I'm being?

But yes, the average yahoo at a PTA meeting talking about the earth being 6000 years old is just a sad/silly sort of person. I guess it's because I personally know a lot about creationism vs evolution. I'm more easily bamboozled by people who actually read biblical greek and have more than a passing familiarity with the history of the early christian church. I can think that their conclusions are proposterous, but I don't have the time/patience to attack their arguments in depth.

Sun Sep 16, 12:21:00 PM  
Blogger Vinny said...

Maybe Strobel is sincere, but I have more respect for the approach that Billy Graham took when his friend and fellow evangelist, Charles Templeton, became persuaded that the literal interpretation of the Bible was untenable. "’Chuck, look, I haven't a good enough mind to settle these questions,’ Graham finally declared. ‘The finest minds in the world have looked and come down on both sides.’ Graham concluded that ‘I don't have the time, the inclination or the set of mind to pursue them. I found that if I say ‘The Bible says' and 'God says,' I get results. I have decided I'm not going to wrestle with these questions any longer."

Sun Sep 16, 01:31:00 PM  
Blogger evtujo said...

Hmmm.... definitely neither mind set gives me a warm fuzzy. I guess I'd have to lean the other way. Strobel might be completely close minded and merely mimicing thoughtfulness I could at least engage him on the questions and at least simulate something like a rational conversation with him (however futile). But the Billy Graham's of the world are certain they are right and have decided to stop look at the evidence.

Of course in reality I imagine they are two peas in a pod.

Sun Sep 16, 09:23:00 PM  
Blogger Vinny said...

At least Billy Graham is not accusing me (or encouraging his followers to accuse me) of being intellectually dishonest just because I don't find his position persuasive. Strobel does so at every opportunity.

Mon Sep 17, 04:05:00 AM  

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