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2. Apologetics

Apologetics is the area of "Christian stuff" that interests me most. "Apologetics" can be briefly defined as "Defense of the Faith." While the word may give the impression of "giving apology," that is an incorrect understanding of the term; the sense is much more positive. The area combines the study of literature (necessary for evaluation of the validity of the Bible), the study of philosophy, with a good whiff of metaphysics thrown in for good measure.

At first glance, that may sound pretty airy-fairy; it most certainly is not. Peoples' views of the world are defined by some form of philosophy, even if they do not formally acknowledge so; peoples' views of science are likewise filtered thru a combination of philosophy and metaphysics. I rather like Ayn Rand's quote to the effect that:

" The society which scorns excellence in plumbing as a humble activity and tolerates shoddiness in philosophy because it is an exalted activity will have neither good plumbing nor good philosophy ... neither its pipes nor its theories will hold water."

She wasn't terribly pro-Christian. But she wrote many nicely quotable things...

My favorite apologetic author, J.P. Moreland, author of Scaling the Secular City: A Defense of Christianity, takes a rather more philosophical tack in examining various world views and their relationships to religion and science.

Unlike most of the Christian apologists, who tend to be "popular speakers" with little background in philosophy and the creation of "arguments," Moreland is in fact a professor of philosophy, with an earned PhD in the area. (My thanks to Richard Howe from Mississipi for providing me with the reference to Moreland.) Moreland also has an M.Sc. in mathematics, and uses some arguments based on mathematical reasoning, which I personally found most interesting.

I don't have any books by the popular apologetic writer Josh MacDowell. (e.g. More Than a Carpenter, Evidence That Demands a Verdict) When I have read his material, I have always felt divided. Part of me agrees that the material seems factually correct; part of me says that the style seems to merely be "preaching to the choir." If that latter aspect is a reaction I can have as as a Christian, and thus generally favorably inclined toward the arguments, I can readily imagine nonbelievers being completely unconvinced. Alternatively, it may be that he is targeting to the "popular audience," and that just happens not to include me.

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