Some time ago I realized I had confused my blogging world with forum-debating
The way I see it (which is likely to be wrongly, of course) is that blogging is a bit different than debating. People post their thoughts and reflections on a variety of topics. From “What I did Today” to “How to take the Perfect Picture.” And the comments are…for…well…comments! While many like a bit of interaction, most simply are looking for insights on what they blogged.
They are not looking for an all-out assault attack from land, sea and air on their blog entry. Unfortunately, I am designed to more of the assaulting, than the commenting type. I have attempted to re-adjust my thinking in this regard. And partly what helps is to go back to some forum fighting. To get it out of my system, if you will.
However, part of that process, in reviewing various threads regarding Christianity, what I have seen is pretty…rotten, if you must know the truth. I get that “apologetics” is the defense of one’s faith. But it is defending for whom? Who is supposed to be convinced of the defense?
Time and again I have watched the familiar tactic that a person defending their claim puts up what is merely possible—as if that is a satisfactory defense. As if, as long as they can say something, anything that sounds remotely conceivable, this is enough to rebuff the “attack” seen on their belief and an adequate defense or apologetic has been presented.
The only person they are convincing are those that already believe that way. I am seeing apologetics reducing the lowest possible common denominator of shoring up those who feel the same way with, “Let me toss out a possibility…”
When we discuss the problem that Matthew places the birth of Jesus during the reign of Herod the Great, who died in 4 BCE, and Luke places the birth during the governorship of Quirinius (6 CE) what do we hear? “It is possible that Quirinius was Governor once before.” Not that it is likely. Not argument as to why. Not addressing how we come to that conclusion. Nope. Just “It is possible…”
We question how the animals could fit on the Ark. “It is possible they were shrunk.” “It is possible they were in children form.” “It is possible that God only took a few, and the various species evolved since then.”
We question how the creation story conforms to geology. “It is possible that ‘day’ means age.” “It is possible there was a great period of time between Gen. 1:1 and Gen. 1:2.” “It is possible it is all allegory.” “It is possible God created the world to deliberately look old.”
We can play “It is possible” all day long. But who is that convincing? Here, let me make it as clear as I can:
The only person you are convincing by tossing out a possibility are those that are already convinced.
Save your time—they already believe it. Is Christianity so weak that it needs repetitive statements, or else it will fade?
Skeptic: The Gospel of Matthew was not written by the Disciple Matthew.
Christian1: It is possible that Matthew wrote the Gospel of Matthew.
Christian2: Whew! I am glad you posted that response, Christian1, or I was about to be convinced by that persnickety Skeptic.
Bullocks! Let me share an experience that I have seen repeatedly.
Last week I had a trial against an “In Pro Per.” That is a person who does not have an attorney. They are going to try this case on their own. I have seen this many a time.
As I typically do, I sat down with this person, explained the basis of my client’s case, and explained that while I understood their defense, it had some legal problems. I offered a settlement on terms that I thought were reasonable. I offered a payment plan. In fact, we were even working out the details as to what day to start making out the payments.
But this person wanted to talk to their spouse first. This is always a sign of doom. I had included the spouse in our discussion for this very reason. I knew the settlement was tanking, as the spouse kept interrupting me, demanding to know why this or that or this was not a reason they did not owe the money.
Sure enough, the defendant came back with a defiant, “We want to try it! We think the judge will consider what we say.”
O.K. (Sigh. This is what I do. There is no joy in trying a case against a non-lawyer.)
Of course we went to trial. And the defendant discovered that it is not so easy to convince a judge. I knew what had happened. They had seen other legal battles on T.V. Where the “good guy” always wins, and the “bad guy” always gets their one-uppence on the perceptive judge dispensing justice.
Their friends and neighbors (and spouses) had all told them what a great defense they had. And how if they were the judge, they would believe it. The friends, neighbors and spouses are doing no favors.
The judge (who WAS perceptive) asked some keen questions, and the defendant realized that the exact issues I had proposed previously were issues the judge also recognized. That what they were saying, upon cross-examination by a person opposed to their position was not quite so clean, shiny and bright as it seemed when all they heard was encouragement from those who were friends.
The judge ruled against the defendant in an amount far greater than what I had proposed as a settlement.
As I watched this situation unfold, I saw the analogy to exactly what I see on forums over and over. The person puts up their defense, and because all the people that believe the same way say, “That would convince me” they believe that this is a sufficient defense.
Are skeptics too hard to convince? Are we left with just patchwork maintenance on those who believe as we do?