Friday, November 27, 2009

Today's Forgotten Apologists by Timothy McGrew

Reporting from the New Orleans "Come, Let Us Reason" Apologetics Conference.

Dr. Tim McGrew gave a talk entitled, "New Atheists, Old Atheists, and Old Apologists".

"The arguments of contemporary atheists against Xy are for the most part borrowed from atheists and freethinkers of centuries gone by. Those arguments were answered, sometimes brilliantly, by apologists and scholars whose work is now largely forgotten. The history of apologetics... provides a rich array of arguments and insights of contemporary relevance."

New/Old Atheists say/said:
1. Gospels written long after events e.g., Dawkins 2006; Strauss 1835
2. Nobody knows who wrote the four gospels e.g., Dawkins 2006; Paine 1804
3. Miracles, by definition, violate the principles of science e.g., Dawkins 2006; Hume 1748

These objections have been answered brilliantly by today's forgotten apologists:

A. William Paley.
Natural Theology 1802 - the original "watch" argument.

A View of the Evidences of Christianity 1794 - this book was required reading at Oxford for 100 years

Horae Paulinae 1790 - First and perhaps greatest apologetic by Paley. A careful exploration of the "undesigned coincidences" between the Pauline epistles and the book of Acts, arguing for the genuineness of both. "The cumulative force of the argument is overwhelming".

B. Richard Whately - brilliant Oxford professor who made Humean skepticism appear silly
Historic Doubts Relative to Napoleon Bonaparte 1819 - the consequences of Humean skepticism applied to a living person

Elements of Logic 1826 - analyzes the fallacy of objections. As his daughter wrote, "we are compelled to rely on testimony for a great many things we believe, in ordinary life, every day".

C. Thomas Cooper - former preacher who rejected his faith, and then came back; self-educated genius who taught himself 14 languages.
The Bridge of History Over the Gulf of Time 1871 - origins of Xy, examines authorship of the Gospels
The Verity of Christ's Resurrection From the Dead 1875 Special focus on the skeptical objections and the "mythic" theory of Strauss

Assessment: A valuable presentation by a person enthusiastic about his subject.

Research Tip: Check out

1 comment:

Tim said...

Hi Richard -- thanks for that!

"... nothing intellectually compelling or challenging.. bald assertions coupled to superstition... woefully pathetic"