In the world of proselytizing, there are a sort of group levels. On one level, you have the common believers. They go to church, work regular jobs, and sometimes come across a non-faithful person. Some common believers may spend some time as missionaries. Some common believers are fundamentalists, and make it a point to bring up their religion with everyone they come into contact with. But none of these people would consider themselves trained or professional proselytizers.
Of course, these people all have priests or ministers or imams or rabbis. It is the job of these quacks to preach the religion to the common people. The common people that go out proselytizing get their information from this group, but this group doesn’t necessarily go out proselytizing themselves. They certainly can, but usually their job is facilitating worship and establishing doctrine.
And then you have the apologists. Supposedly, this group is the outward looking leadership, justifying the belief and convincing non-believers that their religion is real. If the preachers and imams are the operational department, apologists are the recruiting department.
But this is all a lie. Apologists don’t actually convert people. I don’t mean they aren’t successful, I mean they don’t even try. They could care less. It’s all a grift. Their job is keep the faithful faithful, and keep giving them money. That’s it.
It’s actually pretty easy to see the lie if you consider what we would otherwise expect. If we were attempting to convince people of the reality or superiority of any product or idea, and actually wanted to get the skeptics on our side, here are the things a normal person would do. 1) Become an expert of all facets of the product or idea. Good, bad, ugly. Percentages, rates, tests. 2) Dig into the opposition’s position. Good, bad, ugly. Percentages, rates, tests. 3) Convincingly demostrate the reality or superiority of your product or idea to the skeptics, ensuring you directly address their specific objections. 4) Spend more time on their objections, ensuring you have sufficiently and thoroughly answered any doubt in their minds about your product or idea as it relates to this objection. 5) Ask questions about further objections and specifically adress them to the skeptic until the answer is satisfactorily answered. 6) Encourage the skeptic to test the product or idea and attempt to nullify the results, to demonstrate the voracity of your claim. 7) Continue demonstrating that the objections of the skeptics have been satisfactorily resolved.
I mean, this is the basic requirements that we can all expect from someone selling a new kind of soap, or something. Resolve the objections. Answer the questions. Demonstrate the results. We should certainly expect MORE from someone trying to sell us the answer to the universe and what happens to us when we die, right?
Apologists do none of the sort. Any time they actually engage with non-believers, or believers of other religions, they ignore the objections and questions entirely. At best, they invent another excuse to ignore the question. Apologists will be corrected, on the spot, on video, on a point of order or a factual point. Five years later? They are still spouting the same bullshit.
For example, many apologists, to this day, continue to use Pascal’s wager as a legitimate argument. The actual, legitimate challenge to this argument is “what about other gods?”. You see, Pascal assumes there are only two possible choices, when there are actually thousands. So a legitimate apologist, arguing for something real, would answer those challenges. They do not. Yet they still happily keep using the same bad argument, over 350 years after someone pointed out that there were other choices, to fleece their flock of money.
It has been pointed out numerous times that objecting to evolution doesn’t make your religion any more real. Even if evolution were totally made-up, that still doesn’t mean your religion is right. Yet many apologists spend exhaustive hours trying to disprove something that we can literally witness first hand, without even trying to show their thing is right. They aren’t trying to convince anyone. They are giving the believers and excuse to believe, and fleece them of their money.
The gospels are CLEARLY not first-hand accounts, nor do we have a single first hand account of the life and times of Jesus. But they keep saying “witnesses”. In fact, apologists will go so far as to claim we have more evidence of Jesus’ existence than other famous historical figures. This is false, yet they keep saying it to their flocks. So give them money.
The problem of evil. Ignore the problem, blame people that don’t pray enough, and give them more money.
The bible is a perfect historical record. Except where it isn’t, then it’s allegorical, and you can tell the difference by…. “look over there!” Jesus! The end. Give me money.
Christianity is superbly unique and completely unlike any other religion ever. Except all those examples you just mentioned where Christianity is exactly like every other religion ever. And to that I say… but did those religions have a RELATIONSHIP with their god????? Oh, they did? Okay, well……. *keeps preaching that Christianity is unique and only Christians have a relationship with their god*. *Give him money*.
My favorite apologist lie is when they personally converted someone with an airtight argument. Only that exact same story was told by someone else first, and it was found to be made up even that time. But they keep telling the story. They PERSONALLY met a nobel prize winning scientist/ student/ known atheist on a plane/ tv show/ restaurant/ debate and convinced them with some dumb story. The actual argument is dumb, but they pretend someone smart was convinced by it. They pretend they are converting everyone because of how awesomely real and excellent their religion obviously is. Give them money.
I always found it funny when someone entered a singing competition, believing they could win it all, and they just were the WORST singer. Their friends told them they could sing, after all. This is the role of the apologist. Tell the choir they sound amazing, and tell the choir that other people say so as well. Tell the choir that everyone wants to join them because they are so good! Tell the choir that they played a tape of the choir to some hotshot recording executive, and he was super impressed! Give him money!
The Spartan Atheist