Apologetics Review

Apologetics Review

cup of faithI recently ran across an article on a website called the Apologetics Diner which appears to be a cheerleader site based on or on behalf of the book Meet the Skeptic: A new model for handling objections and informing your faith. The most recent article on this website is titled Are We Relevant? (part 1) and it coincided with the release of the video Faith 2.0: Religion and the Internet by the RSA (Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts) which prompted me to write this article. Since the article by apologetics1 is so short, I'll put the entire text here for you to read before making my comments.

How can we make Christianity more relevant? Should we wear geeky-chic glasses and metro-sexual clothing? Stop believing in Hell? Carry skinny Bibles? Have coffee shops in our lobbies and lasers in our services? Preach sermons from an iPad? This is all window dressing (except the part about Hell), but what substantive things can we do?

I think we can learn something about relevance from Google. A TV exposé a few years ago profiled how Google uses algorithms to track, 1) Perceived importance, and 2) Connectivity of the sites it ranks. Perceived importance is the brand power–the reputation–that a business, organization, etc. brings to the web. Connectivity is a measure of the number of other sites to which the particular site is connected–more is better for higher browser ranking.

We can apply these two aspects to the relevance of  Christianity. How is our ‘brand’ doing versus that of competing belief systems? What does it mean for Christians to be connected and are we doing it?

It's always interesting to find apologists addressing this topic. The internet is a space where information that is both correct and incorrect are opensource. This in turn makes education and educated ignorance opensource. The way you tell the difference between the two is through their connection in the real world. Is the information properly sited? Is it attributed to a good source? What is the reputation of that source? Who backs this source and why? What is the history of the source and the person(s) disseminating it and what are their goals?

The answers to these questions when they relate to religion are the reasons that I (and many others) believe that the internet is where religions come to die. Increasingly, the opensource nature of the internet is showing the "cup of faith" to be more of an adjustable sieve: Full of holes that (if you want to say that faith is good) need to be so large that they only catch the largest (i.e. truthful) particles from scripture. But then, you don't really need to use the sieve to pick the "good" stuff out of scripture anymore. They're all self-evidently good without the scripture or faith which is itself, self-evident being that most if not all are uniform across faiths and non-faiths like humanism.

The very fact that Christian "relevance" is being addressed in this way, to me, speaks to the reality that religious faith is already on the back foot. If Christianity and a Christian "world view" is as necessary for the continued well-being of the world and its denizens, as I'm sure apologetics1 and virtually ever other apologist would claim, it should sell itself. Instead what we have is people trying to improve the outlook of Christianity (and other faiths) as though it were a business proposition. Asking questions like "How can we make Christianity more relevant?" and "How is our ‘brand’ doing versus that of competing belief systems?" in the context of the relevance of Christianity on the internet, only makes sense if what you're trying to "sell" can be changed to suit the needs/wants/desires of the "market" you're trying to access. Unless of course apologists think that visibility is Christianity's problem: That is that there aren't enough people who've heard (every form of) the "good news" about the gospel and/or the terrors of hell; but I assure you, that's not the problem.

About themanofearth

I'm a biologist, philosopher, and an agnostic atheist activist. My other work is viewable on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/user/themanofearth "Beware the irrational, however seductive. Shun the 'transcendent' and all who invite you to subordinate or annihilate yourself. Distrust compassion; prefer dignity for yourself and others. Don't be afraid to be thought arrogant or selfish. Picture all experts as if they were mammals. Never be a spectator of unfairness or stupidity. Seek out argument and disputation for their own sake; the grave will supply plenty of time for silence. Suspect your own motives, and all excuses. Do not live for others any more than you would expect others to live for you." ~ Christopher Hitchens
  • I totally agree with you that if "relevance" is being discussed in the way that it has been, then that means something is underfoot. On the other hand, it seems to me that there are a lot of Christian leaders hollering about "relevance" these days because they want Christian nationalism and are angry that creationism and prayer are not a part of the public school system. They are trying to portray themselves as victims, discarded as irrelevant, when that is not the case.

    I also agree that religious dogma cannot survive on the Internet. It is way too easy to fact check and to learn about the mythological roots. The Internet has provided a way to openly discuss things that were taboo in the past.

    For the religious right to have the 1954 standards that they wish everyone to embrace, the Internet would have to be killed or seriously censored. Information is now at our fingertips.


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