Apologetics in an age of nonsense

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Gwallard

Puritan Board Freshman
Reading Bahnsen's "Van Til's Apologetic: Readings and Analysis" I was struck by this quote from Van Til:

"Christianity is the only position that does not make nonsense of human experience" (pg 75)

I was struck by it because that seems to be the aim of the "new" philosophies of our day. They have taken up VT's challenge, and have tried to be as nonsensical as possible. Of course, no system is without it's order and reasonability, and all outside of the Christian system are unreasonable, but the challenge of this age is that no one seems to care if their system is rational/sensical or not.

How are we to talk to such people? I point them to the end of their sinful lives, and how much they actually are reasoning, and pray. Discussions are a hodge-podge of authorities from nowhere and insults. A very strange beast.
 
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greenbaggins

Administrator
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It isn't easy. Your post reminds me of a great quote from the very first Screwtape Letter:

I note what you say about guiding our patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïve? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that.

Of course, Lewis goes on to note the beginnings of the irrationality that you describe. I think a possibly profitable approach would be to point out that the desire itself to live without any concern for logic doesn't match up with their lifestyle, and the way they go about doing things as if there was an order and logic to their lives. They want to believe that they can have, as Lewis puts it, "a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head," and that they can act, if they so desire, on any one or combination of them simultaneously. Even more perniciously, they think their philosophy doesn't necessarily need to have any impact on how they live their lives. This is naïve on their part, though it will probably not get us very far to say so. In olden days, the breach between belief and practice was reversed: the philosophy was more coherent and "logic" (read "autonomy") based, whereas the lifestyle was riotous. Nowadays, the living is much more orderly in many ways, yet the philosophy and worldview is riotous. But the breach is still there, and can still be our way in.
 

Gwallard

Puritan Board Freshman
It isn't easy. Your post reminds me of a great quote from the very first Screwtape Letter:



Of course, Lewis goes on to note the beginnings of the irrationality that you describe. I think a possibly profitable approach would be to point out that the desire itself to live without any concern for logic doesn't match up with their lifestyle, and the way they go about doing things as if there was an order and logic to their lives. They want to believe that they can have, as Lewis puts it, "a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head," and that they can act, if they so desire, on any one or combination of them simultaneously. Even more perniciously, they think their philosophy doesn't necessarily need to have any impact on how they live their lives. This is naïve on their part, though it will probably not get us very far to say so. In olden days, the breach between belief and practice was reversed: the philosophy was more coherent and "logic" (read "autonomy") based, whereas the lifestyle was riotous. Nowadays, the living is much more orderly in many ways, yet the philosophy and worldview is riotous. But the breach is still there, and can still be our way in.

Sadly, that quote applies just as much to me as much as any other person, pagan or otherwise. Things like the internet feel as if they are destroying my brain, and I am not able to do the kind of logical thinking I once was.

But thank you for your reply! I just spoke with a pagan yesterday in a good long conversation about what he believed. He seemed to at least want to have a rationally consistent system, and when I pointed out that his view of all of humanity as valuable didn't agree with how he lived his life or his other parts of his philosophy. It was refreshing that he at least listened. I do hope that the gospel got to him, and not simply philosophy. If anything has become more obvious to me with talking to pagans, they will retreat even to utter irrationality in order to defend their claims. Perhaps that will be the benefit of all this: reliance upon the Holy Spirit rather than upon reason.
 
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