It’s no secret that Christian apologetics is not the same thing as Philosophy or Philosophy of Religion.
If there is one thing that can get under my skin about apologetics, it is the fact that many apologists will present arguments for God’s existence in an intellectually dishonest way. What’s the dishonest way? Well, I think it’s dishonest that many apologists present arguments that didn’t convince themselves that God exists. Rather, they already believed that God exists.
One way of seeing that it’s not the arguments that persuaded a particular apologist is to ask, “If it were shown to you that all these arguments for God’s existence are bad arguments, would you then be an atheist?”. In my experience, there have been a lot of theists and Christians who say they would still believe in God’s existence. That itself is also not genuine in a way. It’s not genuine because one is pointing to all these different arguments, but (at the end of the day) they would still believe without the arguments. If the basis for your belief in God’s existence is something like an experience or seeming, then just say that.
With that being said, I have just one question for some apologists:
Why would you try to convince someone with an argument for God’s existence if that argument is not what convinced you of God’s existence?
Without engaging in confirmation bias, would/should you (hypothetical apologist) really find these arguments even close to being strong if you didn’t already believe the conclusion (i.e. God exists)? If you honestly have no idea whether you would find said arguments for God’s existence compelling if you didn’t already believe, then you’re practically admitting that you have no idea if the arguments should persuade an unbiased and neutral individual. And if that’s the case, then, for all you know, you’re wasting your time.
If you wouldn’t find the arguments for God’s existence to be good without already believing the conclusion that God exists, then be open about that. And, perhaps, stop presenting the arguments!
None of this is to say that apologists should never present arguments for God’s existence; however, the issue at hand is whether the argument is what originally convinced a certain apologist.
In addition, by “dishonest” I do not mean that certain apologists are somehow consciously aware of what they are doing (e.g. lying). Instead, I mean that they should know better.
Thirdly, nowhere did I state that one needed to have an argument in order to have a rational belief in a proposition.
Some atheists have been persuaded by arguments for God’s existence, and they became theists.
I don’t deny that this can happen, but it’s rare. But even though it is true, it doesn’t really get to the heart of this post. Fundamentally, my post isn’t directed at those who were persuaded by the arguments to become theists. In addition, the point is not whether some people became convinced by an argument; rather, the issue is whether some people should have become convinced by a particular argument.