Sarcasm: How to be a Christian Apologist

(redated post originally published on 2 December 2006)

Disclaimer: the following post is sarcastic. It is not intended to be representative of the tactics used by all or most Christian apologists.

1. Doubt is to be avoided at all costs. There’s a reason for the expression, “devil’s advocate,” you know.

2. Do not mention objections to the faith unless they are so common that you would discredit the faith by failing to answer them.

3. If you must acknowledge an objection, try to portray the objection as weakly as possible. For example, pretend that the problem of evil can be ignored simply by refuting logical arguments from evil. But if an atheist uses the same approach–by arguing that there is no logical contradiction between the nonexistence of God and one of your theistic evidences–then emphasize how your theistic evidence makes God’s existence probable.

4. Try to keep your objectors anonymous if at all possible. For example, although J.L. Schellenberg is widely credited with developing the problem of divine hiddenness, in our reply to Schellenberg we carefully avoid mentioning his name or his book. God forbid that we might help someone read the other side. (See rule #1.)

5. Here’s another strategy for dealing with objections: whenever applicable, don’t hesitate to remind your audience on another issue, the scholarly majority is against you, simply dismiss them as biased. You can have your apologetic cake and eat it too! In fact, even if the consensus is on your side, go ahead and point out the bias of the scholarly minority. No matter what, the other side is always biased, whereas we Christian apologists are the model of objectivity.

6. When debating non-Christians, always insist on speaking first. If the non-Christian debater asks to speak first, then settle the matter by a coin toss. But most non-Christian debaters never think to ask, so that should rarely be necessary.

7. Also when debating non-Christians, try to retain exclusive rights to transcripts and tapes of the debate. And if you do publish a transcript of the debate, feel free to publish a transcript where only your comments are annotated, not those of your opponents. In fact, don’t even invite your opponents to write their own annotations! Also, even if you speak first, insist that your final statement be published last. That will allow the book to end with an unanswered alter call.

8. If all else fails, simply focus on the fact that if Christianity is true, Christians will go to Heaven forever. But don’t actually mention what Christianity teaches about non-Christians.I know this will sound odd, but some people actually object to the idea that a person could burn in Hell forever regardless of how moral they were before they died. Again, we don’t want to do anything that might create doubt in the feeble minds of our audience (see rule #1).

9. In order to increase (or create) the impression of academic respectability, inflate the size of your publishing record by republishing the same material over and over again in different journals. You can do this with books, too, but rather than publishing a second edition of a book, republish 90-95% of the content from a first book in a second book, but give the book a totally different title. Unsuspecting parties will then think you’ve authored more original books than you actually have.

10. Take a crazy argument (like TAG) that has never been defended in a peer-reviewed journal. Defend it only at revival seminars (that charge an admission fee) and on audiocassettes (that can also be sold for a profit). Not only will this help to turn apologetics into a for-profit enterprise, but it has the added bonus that you can avoid critical scrutiny by the secular academy (they’re all biased anyway) while at the same you can complain your critics have “ignored” a major approach to defending Christian theism!