How Christian Apologetics Refutes Itself

When I was a Christian I spent quite a bit of my time reading books on the subject of apologetics. Apologetics is the discipline of defending the faith. I always found myself in a position where I had unbelievers around me who challenged my point of view and so I always want to make sure and be “ready to give an answer for the hope that was within me”. After many years I came upon the school of apologetics called Presuppositional Apologetics (PA). PA critiqued another school of apologetics called Classical Apologetics or evidential apologetics (EA). The EA group also critiqued the PA group. I was persuaded by the PA group that EA was not only a wrong approach but literally an immoral and ungodly way to argue for the faith. Over many years, I then came to see that PA itself had many problems with it’s logic and eventually, my faith completely deteriorated. Not simply because of these bad arguments for the faith, but because I came to see that there were really no GOOD arguments for the faith (and believe me I looked and still am looking).

The EA school of though is basically coming from the point of view that we have to use reason and logic to come to understand that the Bible is true. We look at historical evidence, philosophical evidence, archeological evidence, scientific evidence ALONG WITH our evidence from personal experience and faith.

The PA school of thought basically says that we cannot question God or His word and that it is wrong to do so. Therefore we START with faith in God and His word (the Bible) and we do not “reason” our way to the faith. Any “authority” that we appeal to in order to “prove” God, we would be putting in authority ABOVE God and that is wrong to do.

Both PA and EA have strong critiques of each other and in the end, THEY ARE BOTH RIGHT!! The EA critiques of PA are true. And the PA critiques of EA are true. The conclusion is that the Christian faith is not true because in reality, all of the arguments for it are actually pretty bad.

Now, rather than go into detail here in this post as to HOW this is the case, I refer the reader to another blog where this is hashed out. The blog is formerfundy.blogspot.com and the writer did a great job of summarizing each of these two positions critique of each other.

Here is the PA critique of EA and here is the EA critique of PA. See for yourself. I think the Christians do a pretty good job of refuting each other and not much is left over for Christianity when the dust settles.

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11 Responses to “How Christian Apologetics Refutes Itself”

  • J:

    I find it very sad when someone searches so hard for a reason to “disprove” Christianity. There are so many reasons to not believe, and all of them are worldly. There is only one reason to believe, and that is your eternity.

    Good luck, I hope you find what you are looking for. When you do, you will become a very strong Christian and your site will change its name.

  • Jeff:

    Hi and thanks for the comment. I didn’t set out to disprove Christianity. I set out to keep my Christianity and save it from the doubts that I was having about it. The problem was the more that I tried to defend it’s truth, the more I saw major problem in it and after many years of struggling and talking to as many pastors and teachers as i could, I just could not believe it any longer because it was unbelievable.

    If you don’t mind me asking, why are you a Christian?

    Jeff

  • If God is omnipotent, and we are created in his own image; does that not make us, at least presumably intelligent creatures? And if we are presumably intelligent, isn’t natural for intelligent creatures like us to question?…even our Creator? Shouldn’t God know that this would be how we turn out? Of course He does, He’s omnipotent.

    If God wanted to create beings that unquestionably believes in Him, He would have created automatons. But instead He created humans with conscience and reason —and freewill. We have the authority, endowed by God to question, to chose; to believe in Him—or not.

    Is that not what makes God so powerful? By empowering us and entrusting us with choice?

  • Robby:

    You are confusing deductive arguments and inductive arguments. Classical Apologetics isn’t about appealing to the evidence of things. That would be inductive reasoning. Instead they take a deductive approach which doesn’t leave any wiggle room for unbelief (it’s not probability). I’d like you to do some research and come back to revisit this again soon.

  • Jeff:

    Hi Robby,
    Thanks for the comment. Can you elaborate on where my confusion on classical apologetics is? I may be missing something but most classical apologists that I have read do speak about probability and although they may be trying to lay out a deductive case, their conclusions are far from necessary or demanded by their premises.

  • Dude:

    The skeptic is not skeptical of his own skepticism. Why even believe in reason? If I were to stop believing in God I would cast off the virtue of restraint, especially reason. What is purpose of reason if there is no God. Why? Why anything? Who cares. Let me go back to the days before I was invited to church by a friend. We could just go back to smoking bowls and doing shrooms at the beach. God has always allowed us not to believe. Why? It seems to comes down to authority. Mans lordship or God’s. God’s requirement of faith was reasonable to Him. The faith of Abraham or the skepticism of the Pharisee. I think the concept of faith is genius. His line in the sand was purposed. Why allow two paths? He says He loves to be believed in even when He has allowed the possibility of unbelief. Faith is the requirement of God’s righteousness. It’s personal. You don’t have to belief. A promise was given. An invitation is sent out. Why is it so hard to believe Him? I guess you do or don’t. It’s always been two paths. Truth has always been exclusive.

  • Dude:

    If a skeptic is truly seeking truth should he not also consider how to remove bad atheistic arguments? Can he not think for himself arguments that skeptically argue against atheism and for theism? How intellectually honest are you? Atheists like to see things from one angle only. For instance, they see chaos, randomness and disorder in the world as natural to their position and easily dismiss the complexity, non-randomness and order theists contend for. However, they “argue and reason for truth as meaningful” as if that’s consistent. The atheist is a hypocrite. The theist at least sees and starts with the complexity, non-randomness and order we see in the world and explains the chaos, randomness and disorder as sin or a deprivation of God’s design. Which makes more sense of the world? The atheist lives as if the world is meaningful and yet believes ultimately that it is not. Watch them, they do not maintain the paradigm of disorder with integrity. The atheist abounds in philosophic absurdity. At least theism is consistent and can answer as to why things are the way they are. There is much more order than disorder in the world therefore which premise makes more sense to believe in? Natural selection is not an intellectually honest answer. Paltry evidence for the easy unbelievers. Don’t get me wrong. Theists can be hypocrites too.

  • Jeff:

    Dude-
    Thanks for the comments. Would you care to comment on what the post was actually discussing?

    You talk about so many things that I can’t really take the time to go through every one but if you would like to have a discussion, lets take one topic of a time.

    I am skeptical of my skepticism actually. I try to second guess and question all of my beliefs whether current or past. Being skeptical of the idea of skepticism means to consider the value of believing things and not questioning them. Although we are in the unfortunate position of having to trust others for much of our knowledge, asking questions in regards to how we know things has a long and proven track record to filter out false beliefs and to bring ourselves closer to the truth.

    I also do not rule out the possibility of God and am not at all satisfied with “non-belief”. On a fairly regular basis, I still read and listen to the best Christian authors that I can find and I have good friends who are Christians that I meet with and we discuss these topics. I like having friends who will challenge my thinking as much as possible.

  • Dude:

    Sorry. I did not stay on topic. To simplify PA vs. EA. In Epistemology, (even among atheists) there has always been a debate between the rationalists and the empiricists. However, how we know something to be true is discoverable from BOTH our rational and physical faculties. Each camp argues trying to show the dominance of their position but in reality both should not be canceled out but rather are useful in our gathering knowledge from the world. I think Christians have gotten into the debate but that in no way cancels out the knowledge of God as a reality. I think your confidence to say that “the Christian faith is not true” based on this debate is silly. Your bias is showing since the same arguments for discovering all knowledge apply even to double-minded atheists. The evidences we acquire, both rational and physical, are evidences or proofs that we use to determine what we believe. Philosophy and Science are always at war. Are both canceled out? The mind uses the hand but we use them both. Presupps and Evidencers are two extremes. Both sides reveal limitations of the other. The problem is that all evidence, even for the atheist, is held by faith in the reliability of our mental and physical faculties. Which belief system best supports that kind of reliability? A world mainly of purposed order or random disorder?

  • Jeff:

    I should have responded to this a very long time ago. I was taking time to consider your post and just never got back to it. Hopefully you get this reply.

    If you feel the PA and EA groups are two extremes, what would you suggest as a balance of the two that avoids the critiques they each level against each other? A balanced view would seem to do away with the extremes of certainty at either end which leaves you in a very uncertain position. One that renders Christian devotion to have no solid ground to stand on. At least it seems that way to me.

    “The problem is that all evidence, even for the atheist, is held by faith in the reliability of our mental and physical faculties. Which belief system best supports that kind of reliability? A world mainly of purposed order or random disorder?”

    I agree that we have to have “faith” in our mental and physical faculties working properly but it is not a faith that we do not test on a regular basis. When we say we trust our faculties, the human mind has many potential problems that could render our faculties to be not reliable. It is a very tentative position that we take therefore when we trust our human mind. But in so far as we can tell, our mind, when working properly (as measured by our current understanding of the brain)is able to reveal truth which is testable and repeatable and which corresponds with the reality that we live in.

    Our world is not one of complete randomness at all. The properties of the material world follow predictable laws (as we call them)which our minds appear to be able to comprehend and understand at least in part. Even though the universe seems to follow law like patterns, it appears to be incredibly wasteful and “purposeless”. 98% of species that have ever lived on this planet are extinct. That doesn’t exactly seem like a grand design to me.

  • sao:

    Hi Jeff,

    Actually I’m not a christian and I can never be a christian. I am a Muslim not because I was born a Muslim but because I did some research on both religions and I realized that truly as God says in the Qur’an that the only religion before Him is Islam. The Qur’an confirms that truly some books have been revealed before but people had changed their contents. When I started studying the bible, I realized this is true. Infact, the bible itself testifies to its corruption. Then, if the bible is corrupt, how reliable can it be to search for the truth?

    The Qur’an for the over 14 centuries ago remains unaltered. People used to memorize the whole Qur’an ever since the time of the prophet and people are still memorizing it up till today. If a word, or a verse has been altered, we would have seen someone who will challenge the Qur’an based on what he memorized but this has not occured for over 14 centuries. Meanwhile, personally, I have up to 7 different versions of the bible with varying contents. some verses are missing in some versions while some verses aren’t the same. This made me conclude that if there is a book compiled since 14 centuries ago and has never been revised till today and continue to meet up with the present day.

    My advise for you is to get a copy of the Qur’an and study. If you have any problem while studying, and there is no Muslim scholar around you that you can ask, kindly contact me via this email: sao11success@gmail.com or the one I wrote above.

    Thanks and God bless as you seek for the truth.

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