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Daily Archives: February 10, 2012

Adam Lee and the Apologist’s Turnstile

Adam Lee has defined what I think is an important aspect of apologetics that needs to be pointed out and denounced at every turn:

[T]he idea that no particular level of knowledge is needed to assent to a religion, but an impossibly, unattainably high level of knowledge and expertise is needed to deny it. In the minds of many believers, the entrance to their religion is like a subway turnstile: a barrier that only allows people to pass through in one direction.

This is similar to the tactic called the Courtier’s Reply, the silencing argument often used against atheists which holds that no one is qualified to criticize a religion in any particular unless they’ve completed a total study of its most esoteric doctrines. The difference is that the Apologist’s Turnstile adds the assumption, implicitly or explicitly, that none of this knowledge is necessary to join or to be a member of that same religion.

This is a very good point, and it’s slightly related to my previous post. Most people join religions for unsophisticated reasons, yet one is only lauded if you leave the religion for sophisticated reasons. It should be the other way around, at least for the “joining” part. No one that I know of was a disinterested bystander of Christianity and then read a ton of apologetics and weighed them against a ton of skeptical books before converting.

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Posted by on February 10, 2012 in apologetics

 
 
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