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The Need for my Series on Interpreting the Bible

… amongst many other things.

As I’m preparing to move forward in this series, which covers only one small area, I find this post from the generally enlightening Jason Rosenhouse, who lauds simplistic arguments in putting down other simplistic arguments.

He approvingly quotes Coyne:

Unfortunately, some theologians with a deistic bent seem to think that they speak for all the faithful. These were the critics who denounced Dawkins and his colleagues for not grappling with every subtle theological argument for the existence of God, for not steeping themselves in the complex history of theology. . . .

Just so! In the same way as I would accuse someone of finding the least qualified person who calls himself a scientist, say someone with a high school level of scientific knowledge, I object when someone targets their arguments against theism at the level of the church pews.

Certain people on the non-theistic side of this debate expect theists to drop to the lowest common denominator while not treating scientists in the same way. It’s fine if they wish to argue in that fashion, but they shouldn’t be surprised when those with more than a high school knowledge of theology find their arguments unconvincing.

The success of Dawkins et. al. is more due to the miserable level of Christian knowledge than to any brilliance on Dawkins part. On theology, he writes like a rank amateur–and I say that as one who deeply admires his scientific writing.

In the very manner I outlined in my previous post, these folks imagine a set of beliefs, note that this set of beliefs conflicts with evolution, and then announce that evolution cannot be reconciled with Christianity.

But since that set of imaginary beliefs is hardly even related to my own beliefs, and those of many other Christians, I can hardly be expected to concern myself with reconciling the discrepancies, can I?

(Let me call attention also to Tony Mitchell’s recent post The Dilemma of Science and Faith.)

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  1. The same principle could be applied in reverse to apologetic books. Rather than arguing atheism is a bankrupt paradigm on the basis of an examination of the views of uneducated atheists at the popular level, I think that Christian apologists have a responsibility to engage secularism at its strongest: to compare our best to their best, so to speak.

  2. Just so. Apologetics is often a screwed up business, and I say that as someone who publishes (as you know) a couple of books on the topic. I would make a small exception for someone who concedes they are responding to a certain group, i.e. an apologist responding specifically to the “new atheists” or an atheist attacking specifically “fundamentalist Christianity” or “evangelical Christianity” or even (horrors!) “liberal Christianity!

    But there is remarkably little of that going on, at least that I have discovered. Not none, but too little.

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