What is Apologetics?

Apologetics may be simply defined as the defense of the Christian faith. The word “apologetics” derives from the Greek word apologia, which was originally used as a speech of defense or an answer given in reply. In ancient Athens it referred to a defense made in the courtroom as part of the normal judicial procedure. After the accusation, the defendant was allowed to refute the charges with a defense or reply (apologia). The word appears 17 times in noun or verb form in the New Testament, and both the noun (apologia) and verb form (apologeomai) can be translated “defense” or “vindication” in every case.

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Do Things in Life Really Matter or Not?*

With my attention being drawn to the recent events of my full time job, it has created a few weeks lapse of writing. But these weeks  have not without a handful of conversations with some of my new co-workers.  This posting is with reference to one of those worldview conversations over these last couple of weeks.

One of my co-workers is from a different culture, but is neither an embracer of that culture's religious dressing nor the religion of the matriarch in his family. In fact, this individual claims that he embraces no religion at all, but holds to the philosophy that things in life "don't matter."  "It doesn't matter" is the phrase he runs to, when it comes to claims on truth, morals, or ethical issues.

But the "real issue" I would like to bring to the forefront is, do truth claims, morals, ethics or anything in life really matter? Does the phrase "it doesn't matter" truly line up with reality? In response to this question, I would like to present at least two pitfalls as to why this "philosophy" falls apart.

For starters, my conversant's worldview is one where he claims to embrace no religious view. At the same time  he sees atheism as a foolish proposition. Are you confused yet? We should be. Why? It is because the core tenet of his worldview is blurred between the extremes of belief and non belief in an Absolute authority. Picture it as an attempt to live in a "worldview limbo," with no committal to any solid belief.

This is where his mantra of "it doesn't matter" has him residing. But here is the problem. This lack of committal to a belief, shows at least two unlivable pitfalls.


Pitfall #1: A Defiance of Sound Reason

The first pitfall is one of illogical proportions. It is not congruent with any sound logical reasoning. How so?

First off to say something does not matter, does not negate a value judgment. To make such an assertion puts weight on the pronouncement. So if I were to say changes in the marriage laws in various pockets of this country do not matter, I am making a moral pronouncement that someone else's moral decisions do not matter. There is a line drawn on the value of marriage.

It is almost like someone saying that "you cannot legislate morality." To illustrate this, at the risk of  chasing a rabbit, we go to the voting booth to place our ballot for the candidate that best meets our approval on what we believe morally, ethically, politically, and economically. So in essence we are, when we cast our vote, voting for the person who will make legislations on our behalf in those moral, ethical, political, and economic categories.

Secondly, one might espouse the statement, "it doesn't matter" as a way of being nihilistic. What do I mean by this?

Nihilism is the philosophy of nothingness, the negation of being and value.[1] If one is not careful then, the rejection of values leads to lawlessness. So if things "do not matter," what good is there to any acceptance of what is moral or ethical? Those values are placed in the value category of being meaningless.

But this leads us to the second pitfall, the manifestation in one's daily living out this philosophy.


Pitfall #2: Is One Really Willing to "Go There?"

How does this philosophy of "it does not matter" flesh itself out?  Let's suppose your supervisor in the retail sales world lives by this philosophy. Now let's create a scenario where your performance affects  not just your paycheck, but his paycheck as well. Could your supervisor really say, "it doesn't matter" if your performance was consistently falling short of the company line? Would "it does not matter" be a good excuse for your losing your job?

Let's now imagine that there is something happening where some of your co workers are horsing around in the department, and customers have the potential of seeing their unprofessional behavior. Your supervisor notices this and asks "what in the world is going on?" Can your supervisor legitimately ask that question if he or she were true to their philosophy of "it does not matter?"

Before I conclude, allow me to address this from the ethical and moral categories. If things do not matter, why be moral or ethical? One's reason for being moral are rooted at the starting point of one's ethical foundation. The philosophy of things not mattering impacts the very heart of one's ethical foundations. If this is the starting point for one's philosophy of life, then why be moral? How does one defend their reasons for being good, if morals (in this case) do not matter?

There is no solid ground to anchor one's moral choices. They don't matter. Or do they? What about relationships?


Conclusion: What About Relationships?

This is an interesting way of concluding this posting, but I think it will drive the point of the unlivable nature of this philosophy. How can one exercise terms like "love" for a family member or "friendship" with another person? To use such terms as these, places this philosophy on a shaky foundation.

There are two inescapable realities that cannot be ignored.  First off, if one is to live out this philosophy of life, with total integrity, all commitments to making value judgments must be abandoned. But we are trapped into the fact that we make value judgments in one way or another.

The second inescapable reality is that one would have to commit to living a life where all relationships, familial and filial, are meaningless. But the inescapable fact of this is that human beings exist on a higher relational level than the animal kingdom. We have to deal with the consequences of our actions, whether they matter or not.

In order to be true to this philosophy, one would have to live contrary to these realities and place themselves on the same par as that of an animal. As a member of the human race, where we pursue meaning, purpose and value in relationships, this meaningless philosophy is unlivable. The reason why it is unlivable is because people matter, because they are created in the image and likeness of their Maker.

Notes

* I would like to ask your prayers as I go through the changes with ownership where I work. The auto industry is hard for one living out the Christian worldview. Many of you know my passion for what we do in the apologetics arena. Please feel free to email me for specifics and I will be more than happy to share my heart. We are definitely out of our comfort zone, and I am excited to see how the Lord will show Himself as I seek His direction and also as I  minister in an environment that is becoming more and more antagonistic to our worldview.  Living out 1 Peter 3:15-17 and Jude 3 -- RL

[1] Baker Encyclopedia of Christian Apologetics, Logos Online Edition, s.v. "Nihilism."



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