Defending the Faith: Religious apologetics has its place in history

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  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 25, 2013 9:21 a.m.

    Re: Bill in Nebraska, This is not a debate?

    Patrick Madrid becomes the first Catholic apologist to formally Debate an official representative of the Mormon Church. Elder Coleman has been called to serve as a General Authority in the LDS Church )

    The LDS Church teaches that in the first few centuries of the Church, there was a complete apostasy that l it was “restored” in 1831 by Joseph Smith . Patrick Madrid uses Scripture and the facts of early Church history to show that this is theory is not true. The section on the Trinity provides a spirited exchange in which the LDS speaker offers a critique of the Catholic doctrine of “One God in three Persons” and argues for the Mormon Church’s doctrine that there are many Gods (“a plurality of Gods”). The audience Q&A section at the end of the Debate is very illuminating! Many Catholics have used this dialogue set as a helpful apologetics tool in discussions with Mormons. Informative, eye-opening. 2 audio CDs.

    ye should earnestly CONTEND for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.(Jude 3).

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:48 p.m.

    Sharrona: This is not a debate. It never has been a debate. That is the problem with many critics where they want to debate. They didn't debate but I can tell you that there are some who were at the same event who would have stated that Elder Coleman one. It really depends on which side you are on.

    Weber State: Can you actually cite where Dr. Peterson has been wrong or erroneous. Of course not because it really depends again on which side you want to stand. It is the same as Sharrona. This is isn't about debate. Whether anyone wants to know I've read numerous books by the apologist's and I see nothing that contradicts any of the teachings of the Church of Jesus Christ, yet, there is damning evidence that those who fight against the Mormon scholars generally loose, as it is the same old argument.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 7:13 p.m.


    If you are truly interested in references, do your own research. Here is a hint -- in the academic world, some of Peterson's explanations and defense of Joseph Smith's translation of the Book of Abraham facsimiles are so blatantly inaccurate that he isn't taken seriously by any non LDS scholar in Egyptology.

    Peterson has a bad habit of ignoring conclusive evidence showing he is wrong while trying to pawn off assumed associations as legitimate evidence. To forget any fact that becomes inconvenient, and then draw it back for use when it becomes convenient is intellectually dishonest and destroys the credibility of scholar.

    However, as an LDS "apologist" Peterson is quite effective with the LDS faithful. He may indeed have academic "credentials" that comfort his LDS readers who look for confirmation of their own beliefs, but those credentials don't serve a scholar well in the non LDS academic community when apologetic writings are blatantly erroneous.

    Apologists are generally not held to the same high standards as scholars regardless of their academic credentials. Scholars can be "apologists" and still maintain credibility if they uphold the high standards of scholarship and refuse to engage in rhetorical doublethink.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 23, 2013 5:48 p.m.

    RE: Bill in Nebraska, it is a total myth to state that none of the apologists of LDS beliefs have any scholarly training in fields pertinent to evangelical and Mormon debates.

    Great idea,here is a short list of Christians that Dr. Peterson should debate:

    (RCC)Patrick Madrid vs. Elder Gary Coleman Topics: “ Which is true? The Catholic Doctrine of the Trinity or the Mormon Doctrine of Eternal Progression?” and “Was There Really a Great Apostasy. I attended the first debate and I believe Pat won.

    N.T. Greek Scholars (Christian) Daniel Wallace and Bart Ehrman discuss the reliability of the N.T. and whether or not we have sufficient evidence of the original manuscripts. I think the thing that may surprise many with merely a passing knowledge of Ehrman is how much he and Wallace agree upon. Which disproves. 1 Nephi 13 when it talks about all the "plain and precious things.

    Gary Habermas in 2004 VS Antony Flew published in Biola University's Philosophia Christi journal, in which Flew reversed his long-standing espousal of atheism by endorsing deistic theism.

  • Central Texan Buda, TX
    Feb. 23, 2013 1:56 a.m.

    JoeBlow says...

    "in practice, I see religious apologists as someone whose starting position is set and only looks for, or at, evidence that supports their accepted position. Any information that does not support the "accepted" position is disregarded or discredited.

    "It is almost the antithesis of true science."

    I don't think apologists claim to be engaging in "true science" by your definition, but that means nothing about the rigorous scholarship that can be employed. Certainly one can be a scholar on 15th century literature without sitting in a lab analyzing the properties of chemical compounds.

    For a good example of a science closely related to apologetics, look at evolution. Better yet, watch the YouTube video of Richard Dawkins trying to piece together a plausibility chain for the evolutionary development of the eye. It is pure apologetics.

    Apologetics is not science, but it is not supposed to be. But it is an exercise in scholarship, argument, and reason -- much like legal advocates facing off in a courtroom. Each begins with a "side", defending a position, bringing forward the evidence. The apologist may change his mind in the face of new evidence as well as the physicist.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:10 p.m.

    Many critics and former members justify their belief that a Latter-Day Saint who is an apologist can't be a real scholar. Some have even stated such for Daniel Peterson who has a pretty good set of credentials of almost any of the apologetics. He holds a PhD, UCLA, Near Eastern Languages and Cultures. Professor of Islamic Studies and Arabic in the department of Asian and Near Eastern Languages at BYU. He has written several books including, "Muhammad, Prophet of God". His contributions are recognized by both LDS and non-LDS in Islamic Studies. So to say he is not a real scholar is bogus to say the least.

    Further it is a total myth to state that none of the apologists of LDS beliefs have any scholarly training in fields pertinent to evangelical and Mormon debates.

    In reality you don't have to take what they say but sometimes I wonder just how much the critics have studied what the aplogists have stated and what they further state. Truth is truth. Some non-LDS scholars readily acknowledge that LDS scholarship is, at times, rigorous. Further, "Mormons have the training and skills to produce robust defese of their faith".

  • Verdad Orem, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:02 p.m.

    Peterson provides a list of scholars of the very first rank, with world stature, who are apologists, and "Weber State Graduate" provides not a single actual fact in response. He simply repeats, as a statement of his faith, that apologists can't be real scholars.

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 8:16 p.m.



    You give one person a title and if they act certain way you pronounce it good,

    Then you some else a different title, and they act the same way, you call them bad.

    You call one person a scientist, and another and apologist, they do the some things and you give them different credence.

    I know of no person, let alone a scientist, that is truly objective. We all preconceived notions and beliefs that change over time,even if you are a scientist or an apologist, or something else.

    It seems just a silly game.

    If it gets you closer to the truth does it matter who helped you?

    Which just goes to prove that believers and non-believers alike each have their own 'priests' and what they will believe in. We just give them different names to make us feel better about what we choose to believe.


    I do not know what Obama really believes in, and doubt you do either. I do know what he does is based on his political ideology (communism mixed with anti-colonialism) and not religious ideology. So his beliefs lie closer with the non-religious.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 22, 2013 4:55 p.m.

    Weber State Graduate,

    I agree that it is not strict scholarship. It perhaps equates more to engineering than to pure science.

    It would be unreasonable however to expect those with a significant religious faith (of any stripe) to ignore that faith when their religion is challenged.

    For those LDS who are scholarship minded (and Dr. Peterson is a scholar of Islam and Arabic) it is a reasonable response. Further, it does serve to balance some of the unfounded stuff thrown at persons of faith by their critics.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 3:26 p.m.

    Twin Lights:

    My point was not to defend the critic, but rather draw a distinction between scholarship and apologetics. Many critics are no different than LDS apologists -- they are both guilty of confirmation bias.

    To ignore any possible alternative because of a predetermined conclusion when defending a hypothesis is anathema to credible scholarship. Scholars are expected to be objective and open to learning the truth, not hostile to the scientific process.

    It's simply nonsense to equate apologetics with scholarship.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 22, 2013 1:47 p.m.

    Weber State Graduate,

    No doubt apologists are starting from a view gained not through the data but something else. If we are looking for religion of any stripe to be a purely data driven exercise, then our hope is vain.

    I see both strengths and weaknesses in the various apologist arguments I read. Of course, I see the same in the critics (who often have just as much faith in their view as the apologists do in theirs). Realistically, few of the critics are data driven, but rather drive the data to tear down something with which they disagree (for reasons unrelated to the data). The apologists are usually playing defense, not offense.

    As to the exploitation of emotional triggers, certainly there is the Holy Ghost.

    As to ostracism? Please. Maybe where you are. Where I am, being LDS is far more likely to result in ostracism than not being. No one out here stays because of fear of ostracism.

  • Weber State Graduate Clearfield, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 12:30 p.m.

    To equate apologetics with scholarship is nonsense since most religious apologists fear subjecting their own research or ideas to peer review among experts and other scholars in the academic world. A credible scholar is willing to submit to critical peer review, not attack those who take issue with their hypothesis under the guise of "defending the faith." Furthermore, credible scholarship demands a willingness to adjust a hypothesis based upon the evidence, which they refuse to do.

    Many apologists are nothing more than pseudo scholars who cavalierly disregard any evidence that may be in conflict with their premise. Like Peterson, LDS apologists make clever use of rhetorical patterns and assumed associations that often obscure any logical reasoning. And they get away with such doublethink because it's easy to exploit emotional triggers that scare members away from critical thinking since members want to avoid the kind of ostracism that comes from questioning authority.

    There is nothing wrong with faith. The error apologists make is to advocate faith as somehow superior to empirical evidence. Worse yet is to lay claim to empirical evidence when it supports their premise and then casually disregard the scientific process when it does not suit them.

  • atl134 Salt Lake City, UT
    Feb. 22, 2013 11:46 a.m.

    @the truth
    "There is a scary side to non religion and its politicians like Obama"

    Obama's a Christian.

  • skeptic Phoenix, AZ
    Feb. 22, 2013 10:56 a.m.

    Basically any fool or genius can claim to be an apologist. It is hat that fits all. It is just that most look silly wearing it.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 22, 2013 5:00 a.m.

    "pseudosciences like evolution and climate change have a starting point already set."

    Basically, science says, come up with a theory and then rigorously test it.

    Certainly there are people that are not true "scientists" on both sides of issues like climate change or evolution. Call them pseudoscientists if you like.

    That does not mean that there are not true scientists working on those issues.

    here is the difference.


    We know climate change is happening now get the evidence to back it up.


    Hypothesis - Climate change is occurring. Conduct scientific research and see if it supports the theory.

    Similar to Religious Apologists.

    We know our religion is true. So, why bother looking at anything that suggests otherwise.

    "MOST religions do NOT defy logic"

    Maybe not, but one cannot use logic to prove or disprove religion or religious claims.


    Prayers work. Or God answers prayers.

    When people make those claims they are completely subjective.
    Kid goes missing. Family prays. Kid found safe. = God answers prayers.

    Kid goes missing. Family prays. Kid found face down in a river. = God had other plans.

    One thing for sure. Prayers cant hurt. (no atheists in a foxhole?)

  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 8:48 p.m.

    @Tyler D

    There is a scary side to non religion and its politicians like Obama and Gore many many others of the extreme left.

    Which you seem to conveniently ignore.

    But I guess it doesn't fit your world view.


    Science is often at odds with "true science". Such as pseudosciences like evolution and climate change have a starting point already set. And every fact is assumed, and forced to fit or it is discarded.

    MOST religions do NOT defy logic. Stereotyping religion based on a just few minorty sects that have a very strict interpretation does defy logic and reason. I know of no specific religion that has any doctrines based the creation, of the flood or that world is flat.

    Mormons clearly do not believe any of that nor ever had.

    Any religious person that has an opinion on those is just their opinion, and not Gospel doctrine or scriptural fact.

    Nothing that Christ taught is based any of that.

    And I am pretty sure scientists and atheists also have their opinions and stories too and are not any different, such as opinions and stories you tell yourself about religion and religious people.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 8:29 p.m.

    RE: Some of the greatest thinkers compared to Mormonism.

    Augustine we are born alienated from God(”original sin”) we must be born from above, if we are to have full relationship with God.”

    Aquinas developed an important the Christian principle of analogy. God reveals himself in ways that we can understand on account of the frailty and limitations of the human mind. Consider God is our Father, Aquinas argues that means God is like a human father or God is analogous to a human father and other ways is not. God is not a human being nor does the necessity of a human mother point to a need for a divine mother.

    Athanasius, Jesus is God incarnate (The tri-unity). Only God can save. Jesus saves, therefore Jesus is God.

    Luther, Just about anybody can read the N.T. and make some sense of it. Luther insists the real theologian is someone who has experience a sense of condemnation on account of sin, and realizes that the message of forgiveness is good news (Gospel).

    J. Edwards(Great Awakening)” Sinners in the Hands of an Angry God", Hell is a real and permanent place

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 21, 2013 8:18 p.m.

    Tyler D,

    Thank you. I enjoy yours as well. You seek to make a point rather than to simply jab that point into whomever might disagree with you. Too rare (unfortunately).

    Respect is all I could ask. I believe it to be essential for civilized society.

    In a very real sense, individual revelation is supremely objective. It is something experienced alone. It can be shared with /expressed to others (and that can form the basis of a community), but the experience is essentially personal. Of course I understand that you mean objective as in what the scientific method might provide. But I just thought I would mention it.

    I understand the religious history, but certainly most of the problems were not due to religion but to politics masked as such. So too with much of the “religious” conflict of today. It is far more political. There is a religious flavor, perhaps even a religious explanation for things, but it is really about politics (and economics). Standard stuff where A wants to control B (and A will use the most convenient club available to do that).

    No disagreement on the value of our constitution.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 21, 2013 5:51 p.m.

    @Twin Lights

    Always enjoy your comments… one of the voices of reason and a true gentleman here in the DN forum.

    I too have profound respect for personal religious (spiritual) experiences across all traditions. I simply don’t believe that they provide access to objective reality, for the main reason that these experiences seem to have tremendous variations, sometimes even within particular sects of one religion, to say nothing of experiences across different religions (e.g., Christians don’t have visions of Krishna and Hindus don’t “see” God the Father or Jesus – at least not without some prior cross-cultural conditioning).

    But it’s the claims to objective knowledge that really raise my hackles for a whole of reasons, both epistemological and historical. The history of ecclesiastical authority is a disaster and it took us centuries (of Dark Ages) to wake up and create a secular Constitution founded on reason, the rights of man, and “we the people.”

    Given the very real scary side of religion, from theocratic regimes like Iran to politicians like Sarah Palin & Rick Perry (or Santorum), I think we need to be vigilant against its pretensions.

  • Twin Lights Louisville, KY
    Feb. 21, 2013 2:08 p.m.


    You and I must have been in the same philosophy class. I was one of the few strong believers. But I helped to knock down several of the arguments for God's existence because they were such poor arguments.

    Like you, we came to the point of personal experience as one of the few rational bases for belief. And 30 or so years on, I still think that is right.

    It is only what which I would qualify as spiritual experiences which explain why I attend Church and believe as I do. And I am grateful for them.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 21, 2013 1:46 p.m.

    @ brokenclay – “the most obvious example would be the Judeo-Christian tradition's teaching on creatio ex nihilo”

    Interesting answer, but I’m afraid it won’t fly for a couple of reasons. 1) this “religious explanation” did not supplant a scientific one, and 2) science has nothing to say about what preceded the Big Bang. When asked, any good scientist will say “we don’t know and may never be able to know given the fact that we are in time & space.”

    Contrast this humility with the Judeo-Christian tradition which not only claims to know what (who) preceded the Big Bang but claims to know quite a bit about this being - namely his views on everything from the afterlife to who we should and should not sleep with in this life.

    And the objective evidence for any of this is… what?

    And I never claimed to be a materialist… one (non-belief) does not imply the other.

    Kazbert – “Only one reason for “God must exist because …” was rational: personal spiritual experience.”

    Studying William James (yes?) is never “bad philosophy” although as you rightly said, personal experience does not constitute objective proof… James would agree.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 21, 2013 1:26 p.m.


    I am not saying that we can not know anything. But look at religion. Lots of people claim to know things. And often those claims are in direct conflict.

    Men have KNOWN things throughout time that have been wrong. So, obviously they did not really KNOW.

    Basically, I take religious claims and lump them all together as strong belief. Why? Because history has shown that I am most likely correct.

    2 possible outcomes. Out of ALL the religious claims, I am wrong only once. Or Out of all the claims, I am never wrong. I like my odds.

    I would imagine that you have heard the religious claims of others that you do not believe.

    Lastly, many religious claims defy logic.

    The earth is only 6000 years old. The world is flat. The earths population are all descended from Noah who put 2 of every animal on a boat.

    Basically, I see religion as an invention of man to gain money, power and control over others. And it remains the most reliable answer.

    And I am not equating the possibility of a higher power with religion. 2 separate things.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2013 12:48 p.m.

    JoeBlow, I appreciate the humility in your answer. In the end, you rightly acknowledge that if we can't know anything for sure, then we can't know that we can't know anything for sure. This seems to make your worldview quite tenuous, to say the least. If you don't know that you don't know, then your critiques of those who do say they know ought to be mild, non-judgmental, and non-absolute. In your opinion, what would it require in order for us to actually be able to know objective truth? What if the Creator did in fact communicate with us, would that not constitute objective truth?

    Tyler D, the most obvious example would be the Judeo-Christian tradition's teaching on creatio ex nihilo, a teaching that still disturbs atheists, but that was solidly undergirded by the discovery of the Big Bang in the 1920s. The standard model has the most deleterious consequences for naturalism. Science by definition can only study the material universe. Why would you a priori choose this too-narrow materialist epistemology, and then rule out any basis on which the immaterial Creator can be discovered?

  • Kazbert VAIL, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2013 12:44 p.m.

    Concerning Pascal’s wager, can a person who is not fully convinced that God exists really get on God’s good side by lying about believing in God? Is not one of God’s Ten Commandments, “Thou shall not lie?”

    I took a philosophy class wherein we debated the popular rationales for & against believing that God exists. None of the reasons for “God must not exist because …” were rational. Only one reason for “God must exist because …” was rational: personal spiritual experience. That wasn’t proof God exists. Rather, if a person has a personal revelation that God exists then it is rational to believe.

    Maybe that was “bad” philosophy. I’m not in a position to say. And, of course, unbelievers might assert that anyone who claims to have spoken to God must be psychotic by definition. It is true that some psychotics do claim to hear either God’s voice or the devil’s voice. Yet a great many perfectly sane people have indeed heard the still, small voice of the Spirit of God, and for them there is no greater proof that God exists. All the rest of religious apologetics, though interesting and supportive, is secondary.

  • sharrona layton, UT
    Feb. 21, 2013 12:38 p.m.

    RE: Brahmabull, There have been many apologists for DIFFERENT religious.

    Christ is the center of Christians apologetics, In your hearts reverence ”Christ as Lord.”

    Always be prepared to make a defense=(apologetics) to any one who calls you to account for the hope that is in you, yet do it with gentleness and reverence(1Peter 3:15 RSV).

    C.S. Lewis once wrote: “To be ignorant and simple now-not to be able to meet the enemies on their own ground-would be throw down our weapons ,and to betray our uneducated brethren who have under God no defense but us the intellectual attacks of the heathen. Good philosophy must exist ,if for no other reason ,because bad philosophy needs to be answered.

    Probaly the five greatest theologians would be: Augustine, Aquinas ,Luther, Calvin and Johnathan Edwards , Christian preacher and theologian. Edwards "is widely acknowledged to be America's most important and original philosophical theologian . All are monergists , saving grace is a gift from God or regeneration precedes faith versus synergism(Semi- Pelagism) God helps sinners save themselves, decision theology ,faith precedes regeneration.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 21, 2013 12:29 p.m.

    Your question: "I believe it is what you do, not what you believe, that will matter in the end." On what evidence do you expect us to accept this religious claim? On whose authority have you accepted this moral axiom?

    Answer: I don't have to have any evidence to support the claim, it is not a religious claim. It has no tie to any religion, therefor no evidence it is simply my personal belief. I don't have to follow somebody else's "authority" to believe something. I have my own beliefs that aren't based on any body else's. It is a belief, I will never claim to KNOW something I cannot prove (as many LDS do). That would just be rediculous.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 21, 2013 11:37 a.m.

    @ brokenclay – “everyone has a core body of truth in their worldview”

    Yes, but you seem to suggest that the axioms holding up your worldview are on equal footing as the axioms of science. And at the same time you claim that either this is so, or we must accept a Humean skepticism that all knowledge is presuppositional and contingent, the implications of which no religious person would ever adopt for obvious reasons.

    OK, I’ll grant you this… it still does nothing to support the claims of religion as a method for gaining objective knowledge (subjective knowledge, perhaps).

    In the spirit of Ockham’s razor, ask yourself the following questions:

    1.Name a scientific explanation about the world that was later supplanted by a religious explanation.

    2.Name a religious explanation that was later supplanted by a scientific one.

    Science is a better form a knowledge (in the pragmatic sense) than religion simply because it delivers the goods… it works. Religion does so only at the subjective level, and thus can make no claims to objective knowledge.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 21, 2013 11:26 a.m.


    "everyone has a core body of truth in their worldview that is non-negotiable, even you. "

    My apologies, but I am not sure what a "core body of truth" really is.

    But, I would have to believe that it may or may not be true in the real sense of the word.
    Just because I believe it only makes it true to me. And sure, I would believe that many people have that.

    "For you to wag your finger at theists concerning this is highly hypocritical"

    Actually, I may have been unclear. I would wag my finger at anyone on either side of the debate who claims to KNOW the truth. My argument to either would be "Maybe there is a higher being and maybe there is not, but you dont know."

    I also agree that atheists can be apologists also. Looking only for info to bolster their opinion and disregarding anything else.

    I am the first to admit that I dont know. But, I am also strongly convinced that you dont know either.

    I think that deep down, we are all agnostic but cant bring ourselves to admit it.

    But, as always. I could be wrong.

  • fkratz Portland, OR
    Feb. 21, 2013 11:07 a.m.

    There are numerous debates between various religious apologists and atheists/agnostics available online which are seldom dull and there is much to be gleaned. One thing that stands out for me, is that each of the various religious apologists often claims surety of their particular belief system, while those in the other camp claim no certain knowledge and admit that scientific knowledge brutally tramples over that which has been disproved; nothing is static, nothing is sacred. If you listen carefully to Daniel Dennett or Sam Harris, this becomes apparent.

    Those of the religious persuasion rely on texts written by the Holy, often centuries ago, which may be reinterpreted and massaged but it seems obvious that they cannot all be correct, can they? It seems that an all knowing Deity would make things much simpler and straight forward.

  • Tyler D Meridian, ID
    Feb. 21, 2013 10:57 a.m.

    @ Joe Blow

    Excellent comment!

    The only reason apologetics is taken seriously is not because it engages in factual inquiry, but because it is engaged with beliefs still held by millions of people.
    If a university professor were to write an apologetic paper on, say, Zeus, Poseidon, Baal, Anath, Osiris, Ceros, Cronos, Venus, Odin, Istar, or any of the other historical gods, many who were said to be omniscient, omnipotent and immortal, well… I doubt they would have their job very long.

    And once again Dr. Peterson has to throw in some distortions (virtually ever article he writes contains at least one) of other views or people. It is a huge stretch to say Socrates was condemned due to his “religious beliefs.” As is claiming that what folks like Dawkins and Hitchens (RIP) are doing is being “apologists” for another set of beliefs (presumably on equal footing with religious belief); rather than simply poking huge holes in the superstitions of religion.

    That’s like claiming that a non-astrologer is an apologist for a “belief” in non-astrology.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2013 10:34 a.m.

    For LDS and atheists alike, I would highly recommend the writings of William Lane Craig, whom Dr. Peterson referenced in his article. And Alvin Plantinga may be the greatest theistic philosopher of our time.

    Brahmabull wrote, "I believe it is what you do, not what you believe, that will matter in the end." On what evidence do you expect us to accept this religious claim? On whose authority have you accepted this moral axiom?

    JoeBlow, everyone has a core body of truth in their worldview that is non-negotiable, even you. One example would be your scientism-- your epistemology. For you to wag your finger at theists concerning this is highly hypocritical. If you tell us that we can't have a core body of truth, then you're telling us that truth can't really be known. It can only be known provisionally, at best. And so there is no such thing as real knowledge. Atheists are giving up a whole lot when they go as far as they do.

    Craig Clark, the "following the evidence wherever it leads" epistemology leads to intellectual arrogance-- as if each individual has the resources and skill to do this without being deceived.

  • brokenclay Chandler, AZ
    Feb. 21, 2013 10:22 a.m.

    Dr. Peterson,

    I know I've been critical of many of your previous articles, and not without good reason. But in this particular article I don't find anything I can object to. Excellent article.

    Your note that atheists have their own apologists is so true. They accuse us of playing fast and loose with the evidence, and yet they disregard everything that theists present to them on the basis of metaphysical naturalism. They reject our evidence a priori. If anyone is being dishonest with the evidence, it's the atheist. The case for traditional theism is stronger now than it has ever been in history. Atheists, open your minds! Get beyond this petty metaphysical naturalism!

    I'm sure in the future, Dr. Peterson, that you and I will find ourselves at odds again, but for now, I simply find myself grateful for a well-written article.


  • Craig Clark Boulder, CO
    Feb. 21, 2013 9:47 a.m.

    Apologetics is not without merit. I accord the same to debunkers who are the flip side of apologists. But being out to prove or disprove a hypothesis obligates one who undertakes such an endeavor to forthrightly disclose his disposition on the subject and issue an appropriate caveat. The public has a right to know where he’s coming from.

    Ideal scholarship cannot be attained by attempting to predetermine the outcome of a study. An honest scholar will follow the trail of evidence to wherever it leads, even if that means arriving at conclusions at odds with what he had hoped to find. His academic peers should demand nothing less of him.

    That’s no mean task in such a highly subjective field of study as religion where faith is the standard.

  • Brahmabull sandy, ut
    Feb. 21, 2013 8:59 a.m.

    There have been many apologists for DIFFERENT religious.. So then we are no closer to knowing which one, if any, are true. I would make an educated guess that it is none ot them. I believe it is what you do, not what you believe, that will matter in the end.

  • JoeBlow Far East USA, SC
    Feb. 21, 2013 6:33 a.m.

    Who can really argue with the idea that there are Religious Scholars and Religious Scholarship?
    By definition, isn't it really just the study and research of religion and the knowledge gained?

    And, isn't an apologist just someone who argues in defense or justification of something?
    So, all three terms can apply to religion. And they could just as easily be applied to Santa Clause and Unicorns.

    But in practice, I see religious apologists as someone whose starting position is set and only looks for, or at, evidence that supports their accepted position. Any information that does not support the "accepted" position is disregarded or discredited.

    It is almost the antithesis of true science.

    Religion and religious belief is a matter of faith. And no, you don't get to redefine the term "faith" (as the LDS have)

    Simply put Faith is a belief not based on proof. And, there is no evidence or proof. At least not by accepted definition of those terms.

    What you have "faith" in is not necessarily true (or false for that matter).

    Of the hundreds of religions, isn't either one, or none true? But heck. Maybe you got lucky.