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"The Obligation To Do Apologetics"


Scott Lloyd

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I wonder if this is at all related to the anonymous "Theophilus" who decided to make a personal attack against (and questioned their faithfulness of) a blogger who did not care about FAIR-styled apologetics on the Juvenile Instructor blog (on a post discussing last year's FAIR conference).

http://www.juvenilei.../#comment-43295

"Theophilus" enters the stage at comment #4. Hilarity and backtracking ensue. Followed by some interesting discussion.

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At the FAIR Conference, Daniel Peterson gave a stimulating presentation on the obligation to do apologetics.

Here's the on-line version of my Church News report of the same. My story will appear in print this Saturday.

I understand this article was not intended to address all the important criticisms people throw at apologists (I am sure not even most) but I think a quick refutation of the "apologists are dishonest" issue would have been appropriate.

This is the criticism:

"There are some who turn up their noses at apologetics," Brother Peterson said, particularly critics of the LDS Church who say apologetics is not concerned with truth, is intrinsically dishonest, and is not real scholarship.

but it goes on..

"But this is a fundamental misunderstanding," he said. "Apologetics, like any other form of reasoning from evidence can be either good or bad."

which I think misses the point.

Besides that I think it got the point across pretty well. Good job!

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"And yet," Brother Peterson said, "it turns out it [theosis/deification] is an ancient Christian doctrine. And how do you account for the fact that Joseph Smith came up with that out of nowhere, with no great access to patristic literature or anything like that?"

Relative to your ANE studies, Dan... how much time to you spend actually looking for possible 19th century sources?

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I wonder if this is at all related to the anonymous "Theophilus" who decided to make a personal attack against (and questioned their faithfulness of) a blogger who did not care about FAIR-styled apologetics on the Juvenile Instructor blog (on a post discussing last year's FAIR conference).

http://www.juvenilei.../#comment-43295

"Theophilus" enters the stage at comment #4. Hilarity and backtracking ensue. Followed by some interesting discussion.

Until now, I was unaware of those blog postings. I don't know whether Dr. Peterson was aware of them either; I don't see a contribution from him among the comments.

At any rate, it seems axiomatic to me that if one is going to hold a position, one has the responsibility to defend it.

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Until now, I was unaware of those blog postings. I don't know whether Dr. Peterson was aware of them either; I don't see a contribution from him among the comments.

At any rate, it seems axiomatic to me that if one is going to hold a position, one has the responsibility to defend it.

I'm quite sure that Dan was aware of them.

I hold a position that Diet Coke tastes better than regular Coke, and that Diet Black Cherry-Vanilla Dr. Pepper was the best tasting cola ever made. I also hold a position that Crystal Pepsi tasted like bottled plastic.

Do I have a responsibility to defend those positions?

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I'm quite sure that Dan was aware of them.

I hold a position that Diet Coke tastes better than regular Coke, and that Diet Black Cherry-Vanilla Dr. Pepper was the best tasting cola ever made. I also hold a position that Crystal Pepsi tasted like bottled plastic.

Do I have a responsibility to defend those positions?

Are those really "positions" as such, or merely expressions of personal preference? I see a distinction.

"The Beatles are my favorite band" would be an expression of preference.

"The Beatles are the greatest and most influential band in the history of the rock and roll era" would be a position.

Incidentally, you at the moment are engaging in apologetics for the notion that one has no obligation to do apologetics. I find that rather ironic.

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Incidentally, you at the moment are engaging in apologetics for the notion that one has no obligation to do apologetics. I find that rather ironic.

touche.

Though I wouldn't say I'm engaging in apologetics, but rather using these examples to find out what it means to say that one has a responsibility to defend a position.

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touche.

Though I wouldn't say I'm engaging in apologetics, but rather using these examples to find out what it means to say that one has a responsibility to defend a position.

As quoted in my Church News piece, Daniel said, "But if people believe there is no reason for belief, if they believe you have no reasoning or evidence, then there's no reason for them to take you seriously."

Ergo, if you don't care about being taken seriously, I suppose you have no duty to defend your position.

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As quoted in my Church News piece, Daniel said, "But if people believe there is no reason for belief, if they believe you have no reasoning or evidence, then there's no reason for them to take you seriously."

Ergo, if you don't care about being taken seriously, I suppose you have no duty to defend your position.

That, of course, assumes that religious belief derives from reason.

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That, of course, assumes that religious belief derives from reason.

...or, that religious beliefs involve reason--at least it does in my case. I can't speak for others. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

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That, of course, assumes that religious belief derives from reason.

A religious believer would not be doing apologetics if she did not think her belief was at least supportable by reason/evidence.

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I will sometimes attempt or pretend to be an apologist, but I often feel uncomfortable with that label.

"Applying that statement to Mormonism, Brother Peterson said, "You don't give people testimonies by arguing them into the church. ... But if people believe there is no reason for belief, if they believe you have no reasoning or evidence, then there's no reason for them to take you seriously."

The words "reasoning" and "evidence" trouble me. It seems to imply that things like Hebraisms and the NHM inscription will validate my commitment to Mormonism. This is absolutely and patently untrue and false. Reasoning and so called evidences are illusions, in a world that requires faith.

There is no rationale for angels, gold plates, and a corporeal Divine visit(s).

There is no rationale for a resurrection, atonement, or exaltation.

These things defy reason and logic. There is no possible evidence for these things either.

My faith, my redemption, my happiness/peace are the reasons and evidence for my devotion.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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...or, that religious beliefs involve reason--at least it does in my case. I can't speak for others. :P

Thanks, -Wade Englund-

To be sure reason is involved in the process. But there was a point for me, when I placed myself in a terrifying position of vulnerability and faith, and said "Help thou my unbelief."

and then the still small voice, which did not reason with me, it only converted and healed.

Big UP!

Lamanite

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I will sometimes attempt or pretend to be an apologist, but I often feel uncomfortable with that label.

The words "reasoning" and "evidence" trouble me. It seems to imply that things like Hebraisms and the NHM inscription will validate my commitment to Mormonism. This is absolutely and patently untrue and false. Reasoning and so called evidences are illusions, in a world that requires faith.

Consider the Austin Farrer quote that Daniel gave in his talk and that I repeated in my Church News story: "Though argument does not create conviction, the lack of it destroys belief. What seems to be proved may not be embraced, but what no one shows the ability to defend is quickly abandoned. Rational argument does not create belief, but it maintains a climate in which belief may flourish."

And Daniel's comment: "If the ground is so encumbered with overgrowth of critical arguments, the seed cannot take root. It's the duty of the apologist, in that sense, to clear the ground to make it possible for the seed to grow."

Faith is still necessary; apologetics helps preserve an environment that permits such faith to flourish.

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A religious believer would not be doing apologetics if she did not think her belief was at least supportable by reason/evidence.

From my view, this appears to be the case much of the time. I also see when some beliefs simply are not supported by any evidence and thus apologetics is used to just skirt the issue by use of clever arguments.

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I'm quite sure that Dan was aware of them.

I hold a position that Diet Coke tastes better than regular Coke, and that Diet Black Cherry-Vanilla Dr. Pepper was the best tasting cola ever made. I also hold a position that Crystal Pepsi tasted like bottled plastic.

Do I have a responsibility to defend those positions?

Did you ever stand in a holy place and promise to "sustain and defend" said beverages? The Coca-cola factory perchance? :P

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I will sometimes attempt or pretend to be an apologist, but I often feel uncomfortable with that label.

The words "reasoning" and "evidence" trouble me. It seems to imply that things like Hebraisms and the NHM inscription will validate my commitment to Mormonism. This is absolutely and patently untrue and false. Reasoning and so called evidences are illusions, in a world that requires faith.

There is no rationale for angels, gold plates, and a corporeal Divine visit(s).

There is no rationale for a resurrection, atonement, or exaltation.

These things defy reason and logic. There is no possible evidence for these things either.

My faith, my redemption, my happiness/peace are the reasons and evidence for my devotion.

Big UP!

Lamanite

Maybe you're forgetting that different children of God have different temperaments, expectations, and paths, and that ultimately, you may be closing the door on someone's path which to you seemed unnecessary or even dangerous bu to them was invaluable. It's difficult to determine whether we are doing this, I grant. But it warrants consideration, imo.

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Faith is still necessary; apologetics helps preserve an environment that permits such faith to flourish.

I am thoroughly fascinated and entertained by the scholarly works of others. I wonder who I would be without the Pratt's, Talmage, Roberts, Allen, Bitton, Arrington, Bushman, Nibley, England, Mauss, Givens et al.? Different indeed. But still saved. Still converted. Still endowed. Still a forever family. Still a disciple of Jesus Christ.

Faith is a requirement. The environment that faith needs to be sustained and nurtured is in Alma 32, not in the FARMS review or the latest copy of the Journal of Book of Mormon Studies. Interesting, but completely optional for any follower of Christ.

And to re-emphasize, I like you guys. I'm just saying if I fell out of a tree I would probably land closer to Maxwell than Midgley. Ha!

Big UP!

Lamanite

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From my view, this appears to be the case much of the time. I also see when some beliefs simply are not supported by any evidence and thus apologetics is used to just skirt the issue by use of clever arguments.

Daniel made the point that there is both good and bad apologetics. Apologetics is a value-neutral term.

But I'd say that "absence of evidence is not evidence of absence" is a valid apologetic argument. It is a given that not every single point is going to be provable or even supportable by evidence. What good apologetics does is keep the question open so that an individual seeker may exercise faith and go to the Lord in prayer.

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Did you ever stand in a holy place and promise to "sustain and defend" said beverages? The Coca-cola factory perchance? :P

No. Neither did I promise to sustain and defend a particular Church, nor did I promise to sustain and defend particular claims which that Church may or may not be making.

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To the contrary, I argue that apologetics builds false premises that are more detrimental than beneficial.

If you argue it does so of necessity, I believe you argue incorrectly. I don't recall if that was the case when I read your paper before, maybe when I get the chance I'll cook up a response to highlight some of the potential holes in your argument.

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