Apologist Josh McDowell: Internet the Greatest Threat to Christians

(Redated post originally published on 19 November 2011)

This is old news, but cries out for a comment. According to The Christian Post, Josh McDowell has declared the Internet to be the greatest threat to Christians. As the editor of an Internet anthology rebutting McDowell’s book Evidence That Demands a Verdict, I naturally found this announcement to be of great interest. McDowell has steadfastly refused to even acknowledge our rebuttal, much less learn from it. Speaking at the “Unshakable Truth, Relevant Faith” conference at the Billy Graham Center on July 15, McDowell stated:

The Internet has given atheists, agnostics, skeptics, the people who like to destroy everything that you and I believe, the almost equal access to your kids as your youth pastor and you have… whether you like it or not.

Two comments:

1. Do we “like to destroy”? Ummm… no. While there are atheists, agnostics, and skeptics who do enjoy “destroying” what Christians believe, that is certainly not how I or many of us at Internet Infidels think or feel about it. One of the original goals for starting Internet Infidels and creating the Secular Web was defensive, to respond to apologists who seemed hell-bent on trying to prove the irrationality of non-believers (so-called “hard apologetics”). In fact, for years I used to say that the primary value of the Secular Web was that it provided a level playing field. (More on that in a moment.)

2. As Jerry Wilson pointed out:

“But his conclusion that this is somehow bad is laughable. Read what he is saying: Skeptical inquiry into the things we have always accepted without question is something to fight against. That shows the mindset of fundamentalist Christians. Never mind the fact, never mind that their beliefs might just be superstitious nonsense. We must protect our kids of learning anything they might use to work out the real solutions to life’s problems. We must keep them deluded with dogma. Facts and critical thinking skills are evil. And that’s what they are learning on the Internet!”

I’ve documented before how William Lane Craig and Norm Geisler are opposed to free thought; we may now add a third high-profile Christian apologist, Josh McDowell, to the list. Again, I do not want to be guilty of attacking a straw man version of Evangelical Christianity. If any Evangelical Christians reads this and disagrees with McDowell, Craig, and Geisler regarding free thought, freedom of inquiry, and so forth, I would love to hear from you.

Here’s more from McDowell:

“Now here is the problem,” said McDowell, “going all the way back, when Al Gore invented the Internet [he said jokingly], I made the statement off and on for 10-11 years that the abundance of knowledge, the abundance of information, will not lead to certainty; it will lead to pervasive skepticism.”

What? Hard apologetics does poorly when it is unable to control the entire message? What a shock!

And, folks, that’s exactly what has happened. It’s like this. How do you really know, there is so much out there… This abundance [of information] has led to skepticism. And then the Internet has leveled the playing field [giving equal access to skeptics].”

Now that is something we can agree on: the Internet has leveled the playing field. In fact, I’ve been saying it for about 15 years. To which I can only add: get used to it, Josh, because we are not going anywhere.