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The Apologetics Death Spiral

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  • The Apologetics Death Spiral

    Don't know if a lot of you share this perception, but around the 2000's and 2010's (hard to specify when) but I recall a period when there were so many forums and websites (including this one) that hosted so many intense debates between Atheists/Agnostics and Christians, debates that got incredibly heated. I, like many, it was the time I became interested in Christian apologetics, and examine critically the claims of Christendom. It was the time when folks like Sam Harris, Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett (Atheist side), William Lane Craig, Norman Geisler, and Ben Witherington III (Christian side) duked it out on public debates. Coinciding with that era, it was also, what I would consider the golden era of Theologyweb.

    But in time the debates seemed to me have withered down overtime, and hard for me to say exhaustively what factors drove that if not a gradual loss of interest on both parties. The challenges of Christian and/or Non-Christian claims aren't as common as they used to be, almost as if we've reached a sort of "truce" in regards to a good chunk of our beliefs. One analysis caught my eye, and one with a very interesting argument with plausible explanation as to how it happened. It's called the "Apologetics Death Spiral", a term coined by a Political Science Youtuber called PresidentSunday, the one making the analysis, and part of an overarching critique he is preparing towards the Christian Apologetics Movement that became a powerful cultural force around the late 2000's and early 2010's and how it whittled down. It is derived from this twitter thread in a discussion with Prof. Matt McManus :


    https://twitter.com/MattPolProf/stat...03723731791873


    This is something to consider, because in the case of TWeb itself, I argue it more or less fits on what I have observed (since I returned about a 2 months ago) as to why threads involving theology are few but the ones involving civics are rampant, and at lowbrow quality. It is part of a much wider trend observed in the latest waves of tensions and fighting amongst the various manifestations between Left and Right wingers of all kinds of stripes in the Western World and her peripheries.

    The analysis goes like this:

    1: When ideological partisans assume bad faith on the part of their opponents, they don't argue the points carefully according to their merits but focus on a "reciprocal" fostering of prejudice against them in the minds of laypeople and kids.

    2. These are then encouraged to engage in that activity of ideological seeding themselves, with the result that the major intellectual presence and most reliable source of cultural strength for these positions is the intimidation factor of the rabble.

    3. You can't fight a hooting rabble by reasoning through their arguments with them like you might a student. You reply in kind. You seed the ground with prejudicing messages against the other party and generate a rabble of your own.

    4. Eventually the rabble is all that's left, and since the conversation has now become dead ended and boring, the world passes it by while the competing rabbles obsessively fight each other in some forgotten and neglected corner somewhere.

    I (PresidentSunday) call it the apologetics death spiral because this is exactly what happened with the New Atheists and the apologetics movement.


    For those of us who involved in Christian Apologetics in any measure, wether in lay form or in full time ministry, I don't think this is something to be ignored, especially when the quality of the debates started to drop in poor quality, case in point; the Bill Nye vs Ken Ham debate (Who remembers that cringefest of an exchange? ).


    I eventually want to take a look at PresidentSunday's critique of the apologetics movement as soon as it comes out (for the record, he professes to be a Christian, I think non-denominational) and discuss it here in TWeb with you guys, especially with you fellow brothers and sisters in Christ as to the current state of online Christian Apologetics entering the 2020's.


    What do you all think of this analysis? Think the Apologetics Death Spiral is an explanation as to the current state of TWeb and our respective societies in general?
    Last edited by Andius; 01-05-2021, 01:32 AM.
    Ladino, Guatemalan, Hispanic, and Latin, but foremostly, Christian.
    As of the 1st of December, 2020, officially anointed as this:

    "Seinfeld had its Soup Nazi. Tweb has its Taco Nazi." - Rogue06 , https://theologyweb.com/campus/forum...e3#post1210559

  • #2
    Lots of people have moved on to "debating" on platforms less conducive to reasoned argument (twitter, facebook, youtube comments); that has a lot to do with it, I think. Civics gets the attention now because there's constantly new material being introduced; it's easy to toss up new information in lieu of a cogent argument. People are lazy, and real apologetics debate is hard work for both sides. It's not really the fault of the apologetics movement IMO, but changes in society.
    Enter the Church and wash away your sins. For here there is a hospital and not a court of law. Do not be ashamed to enter the Church; be ashamed when you sin, but not when you repent. – St. John Chrysostom

    Veritas vos Liberabit<>< Learn Greek <>< Look here for an Orthodox Church in America<><Ancient Faith Radio
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    I recommend you do not try too hard and ...research as little as possible. Such weighty things give me a headache. - Shunyadragon, Baha'i apologist

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    • #3
      Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
      Lots of people have moved on to "debating" on platforms less conducive to reasoned argument (twitter, facebook, youtube comments); that has a lot to do with it, I think. Civics gets the attention now because there's constantly new material being introduced; it's easy to toss up new information in lieu of a cogent argument. People are lazy, and real apologetics debate is hard work for both sides. It's not really the fault of the apologetics movement IMO, but changes in society.
      Twitter especially, with its limit of first 140 and now 280 characters, has greatly affected debating. We are now in an era where people prefer sound bites and slogans over reasoned, thought out discussions of any length -- even short ones. This can be seen by the use of "tl/dr" for much of what exceeds two paragraphs.

      I'm always still in trouble again

      "You're by far the worst poster on TWeb" and "TWeb's biggest liar" --starlight (the guy who says Stalin was a right-winger)
      "Of course, human life begins at fertilization that’s not the argument." --Tassman

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      • #4
        Originally posted by Andius View Post
        This is something to consider, because in the case of TWeb itself, I argue it more or less fits on what I have observed (since I returned about a 2 months ago) as to why threads involving theology are few but the ones involving civics are rampant, and at lowbrow quality. It is part of a much wider trend observed in the latest waves of tensions and fighting amongst the various manifestations between Left and Right wingers of all kinds of stripes in the Western World and her peripheries.
        ...
        What do you all think of this analysis? Think the Apologetics Death Spiral is an explanation as to the current state of TWeb and our respective societies in general?
        TWeb has definitely gone downhill quite a bit over the past few years, and I blame both sides for this.

        The membership has become infested with a plague of scoffers who have no interest in theology, or God. As far as I can tell, it's an ego trip. It boosts their own ego when they come here and show off their own self-righteousness while putting down Christians, God and the Bible. And many of the Christians on this site are no better: They give in and show their own stupidity in thinking they can set these fools straight.

        The Bible has the clear answer in Proverbs 26:4-5, "Do not answer a fool according to his folly, or you yourself will be like him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he become wise in his own eyes." According to verse 5, yes, definitely answer them according to their folly, if there be any hope of setting them straight. But after several years of this, it has become obvious that this isn't going to happen. So we go to verse 4. And this is definitely what I see in the Civics forum: Many Christians have become no better then the scoffers in the way they have reduced themselves to senseless squabbling.

        Verse 12 tells us, "As a dog returns to its vomit, so a fool repeats his folly." And Christians on this site are doing nothing more than shoveling back their vomit.

        There are a few godly Christians on this site, far too few, who are here to share the Lord's blessings, wisdom, knowledge and insight. But look at the numbers of views compared to the numbers of views that the Civics threads are getting.

        A month or two ago, I admitted to one of the faculty of this site that I am part of the problem. I seldom post anything of any value, and maybe I should start doing so. I have been a Christian for more than fifty years, and have found a lot of things I can share, even from my own experiences. So recently I have started doing so.

        Is there any hope for this website? I certainly hope so. But as long as Christians are making fools of themselves by acting just as foolish as the scoffers they are reacting to, I wonder.

        "But reject foolish and ignorant speculation, for you know that it breeds quarreling. And a servant of the Lord must not be quarrelsome, but must be kind to everyone, able to teach, and forbearing. He must gently reprove those who oppose him, in the hope that God may grant them repentance leading to a knowledge of the truth. Then they will come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, who has taken them captive to his will." (2 Timothy 2:23-26)

        Maybe the best suggestion I could make comes from a dentist I heard talking about teeth: "Ignore them and they will go away."
        Last edited by Faber; 01-05-2021, 11:44 AM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Andius View Post
          What do you all think of this analysis? Think the Apologetics Death Spiral is an explanation as to the current state of TWeb and our respective societies in general?
          When I first came here I spent most of my time on Apologetics and Philosophy, but a number of years ago I found myself almost exclusively posting on Civics. And I have seen that on other sites too, Politics seem to have taken over. Not sure why that is.

          Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

          https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

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          • #6
            I set up a thread in general theistics for honest seekers, and apparently there aren't any! Where's the good fallow soil when you want to find it to plant some seeds?
            If it weren't for the Resurrection of Jesus, we'd all be in DEEP TROUBLE!

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            • #7
              Originally posted by seer View Post

              When I first came here I spent most of my time on Apologetics and Philosophy, but a number of years ago I found myself almost exclusively posting on Civics. And I have seen that on other sites too, Politics seem to have taken over. Not sure why that is.
              Because we, as a nation, have become so incredibly divided politically, and that's driven, to a large extent, on Biblical principles.
              "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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              • #8
                Originally posted by Christianbookworm View Post
                I set up a thread in general theistics for honest seekers, and apparently there aren't any! Where's the good fallow soil when you want to find it to plant some seeds?
                That's why I have so often been a bivocational pastor -- to be out there "in the world", not necessarily surrounded only by fellow believers, as happens to so many people in the ministry.
                I had a man tell me just this morning "I don't know ANYBODY who's lost".
                "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                  Because we, as a nation, have become so incredibly divided politically, and that's driven, to a large extent, on Biblical principles.
                  Right, gay rights, gay marriage, the whole trans movement - political correctness. speech codes, etc....
                  Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                  Comment


                  • #10
                    Originally posted by seer View Post

                    Right, gay rights, gay marriage, the whole trans movement - political correctness. speech codes, etc....
                    It is getting harder and harder to speak on Biblical issues without sounding like I'm condemning the Democratic Party.
                    "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                    Comment


                    • #11
                      Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                      It is getting harder and harder to speak on Biblical issues without sounding like I'm condemning the Democratic Party.
                      Sad, I grew up in a Democrat household where JFK was a saint...
                      Atheism is the cult of death, the death of hope. The universe is doomed, you are doomed, the only thing that remains is to await your execution...

                      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Jbnueb2OI4o&t=3s

                      Comment


                      • #12
                        Originally posted by seer View Post

                        Sad, I grew up in a Democrat household where JFK was a saint...
                        My parents were very much opposed to JFK because he was Catholic, and would allow the Pope to influence all his policy decisions.

                        Other than that, yeah --- we were very much a Democrat household.
                        "Neighbor, how long has it been since you’ve had a big, thick, steaming bowl of Wolf Brand Chili?”

                        Comment


                        • #13
                          Originally posted by Cow Poke View Post

                          Because we, as a nation, have become so incredibly divided politically, and that's driven, to a large extent, on Biblical principles.
                          I agree there are some divisions (some large divisions) on cultural issues but other than that, I don't see the divide as biblical. For example, my issues are largely political or policy but I can also go to the Republican side on particular policies or selections. As an example I had no real problem with trump's 1st and 3rd SCOTUS picks since I didn't believe they would compromise their principles and roll over for him. With Bush the Younger, my differences were policy so too with Bush the Elder, Reagan, Ford, etc. but I thought all were good men and if they had religious differences, that was their right. I think the real fault line was trump and the only biblical issues I had with him were his amazing ignorance of everything biblical and his blatant (mis)use of the bible and Christianity.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by seer View Post

                            Right, gay rights, gay marriage, the whole trans movement - political correctness. speech codes, etc....
                            Rights seen important and I have no problem, as a Christian or as a human being, with homosexuality, trans, or the like. As for political correctness, it might be nice to have some basic 'correctness' and mutual respect in our political and civil discourse.

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by One Bad Pig View Post
                              Lots of people have moved on to "debating" on platforms less conducive to reasoned argument (twitter, facebook, youtube comments); that has a lot to do with it, I think. Civics gets the attention now because there's constantly new material being introduced; it's easy to toss up new information in lieu of a cogent argument. People are lazy, and real apologetics debate is hard work for both sides. It's not really the fault of the apologetics movement IMO, but changes in society.
                              I agree to certain extent, where a great many social media platforms don't exactly give the space and format required for a proper debate. But to be fair, the video debate format that has grown in Youtube is actually really great for long format debates. A few discord platforms within academic social circles have also provided a good alternative to traditional forums (Reddit tends to be poorly moderated) of debate.

                              I would actually do fault the apologetics movement to a certain extent. One terrible consequence I have noticed on the rise is the amount of young people hailing from American conservative backgrounds (growing up indoctrinated with terrible books such as Tactics by Gregory Koukl, ) with a hostile mindsets against most college professors and Academia in general. I can't help but notice how the Christian witness in Academia becomes compromised when orthodox intolerance, be it coming from crazed left-wingers viewing Whites in their social privilage as enemies or crazed right-wing reactionaries viewing progressives as threats to society. On the side of the Church (our side), there is some apologetics material that I consider is doing more harm than good in advancing the Gospel, especially when it comes at the cost of good quality apologetic books (The more difficult ones to digest admittedly).
                              Ladino, Guatemalan, Hispanic, and Latin, but foremostly, Christian.
                              As of the 1st of December, 2020, officially anointed as this:

                              "Seinfeld had its Soup Nazi. Tweb has its Taco Nazi." - Rogue06 , https://theologyweb.com/campus/forum...e3#post1210559

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