Posted: Dec 24, 2011 10:55 pm
by jlowder
Shrunk wrote:OK. I think our disagreement is over the connotation of the word "apologist". In secular circles (your intended audience) it usually denotes someone who will offer arguments to defend a religious position without regard to whether they are valid or sound, but just with regard to whether they can seem convincing. It's almost always used as a pejorative term, in my experience, and I was suprised to find the number of religious figures who openly used the term to describe their work. Until your post here, I had never heard of an atheist embracing the term.

Hi Shrunk -- I have a few points in reply.

1. My intended audience for that post is the audience of the Secular Outpost, which includes both theists and nontheists.

2. Regarding the nontheist portion of the audience, I'm well-aware that in secular circles the word "apologist" is almost always used pejoratively. I think that nontheists who rely upon the sort of the arguments or objections described in my piece deserve the sort of scorn they associate with the word "apologist." On the other hand, if they defined the word "apologist" according to ordinary usage of the term, they would not interpret the word pejoratively and would not take any offense. I guess part of my goal is to challenge the tendency among nontheists to define the word "apologist" pejoratively.

3. I think the best explanation for the fact that many religious figures self-identify as apologists includes the fact that they adopt the ordinary usage definition of the word "apologist" and hence don't take any offense. I also think there is a verse in the NT which in the original Greek contains the word "apologia." (Perhaps 1 Pet. 3:16? Maybe one of the Christians on this board can comment.)

I don't have a recommended term to replace the pejorative sense of "apologist," but I think the idea is that some apologists are so partisan in their approach that they lack credibility. Maybe "partisan hacks" or "spin doctors"?