Apologizing apologists

When defending Christianity and its historical record, Christian–and especially Catholic–apologists often seem very eager to point out that yes, terrible atrocities have been committed in the name of the Church. Obviously, this is true–any large institution that has been around for so long is bound to contain all the extremes of humanity–but that should be obvious to anyone who is qualified to operate a blanket. Besides, when the apologist, in the typical manner, simply waves his hand in the general direction of non-specific atrocities, his listeners will probably think of the Crusades and the Inquisition, and the urban legends about them will thus live on. There is no other creed or institution that has to self-flagellate in this way even as it defends itself (keeping in mind that “white” and “European” are not creeds), even though the record of the Church is, if anything, far better than that of any of its competitors. (When was the last time you heard a fan of the “Enlightenment” apologize for the Slaughter of the Vendée?) The enemies of the Church don’t think that, of course, but why should their misconceptions dictate what we are and aren’t allowed to say?

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3 thoughts on “Apologizing apologists

  1. “… qualified to operate a blanket.” Hah! Oh, man, thank you for that one, Svein. I am going to be able to use it with great profit for the rest of my life – always with full attribution, of course.

  2. This is a very good point, and it’s a general downside to the strategy of “grant your opponent as many of his premises as possible and proceed to show that he’s still wrong.” Logically, this is a very effective thing to do, but rhetorically, it allows far too much to go uncontested. Similarly, arguments about the state of non-Catholics in Catholic doctrine seem to center exclusively on morally exemplary atheists, in which we include–because we always want to grant as much as possible, of course!–the Church’s worst persecutors, who have been attacking us only because they’re so concerned about the poor, etc.

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