Está en la página 1de 5

Here is an item in three parts which I have posted at many places on the internet and have solicited, in the

process, many an exchange of views in the last seven years, 2001-2008. I began to post a wide range of items on the internet in a serious and extensive way in 2001, two years after retiring from a teaching career of thirty years. The exercise of internet posting became even more serious after retiring from PT, casual and volunteer work in the years 2003 to 2005. I became increasingly focused on writing in these years, 1999 to 2005, and am now involved in reading, writing and work as an independent scholar full-time, eight hours a day on average. Usually, eventually, the dialogue with most individuals who respond to my internet posts ceases. For most of those who read my posts formal, explicit dialogue never starts and that is a good thing because there are now hundreds of thousands of readers who engage with my work in different ways, with varying degrees of enthusiasm on the internet. With each person who does respond in writing, though, there is what you might call an individual trajectory of reading, dialogue, apologetics, discussion or chat--call it what you will. And so--respond in any way you like to what follows and I look forward to hearing from you, if you so desire. ________________________ In this first part of my post on apologetics I want to provide a wide context. Apologetics and apologists were originally associated with the classical period of Greek and Roman history and Christianity. Over time apologetics became a branch of systematic theology, although some experience its thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter apologetics on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. Most encounter it in a somewhat serendipitous, sometimes heated, often indirect fashion in their daily life throughout their years of the lifespan from childhood to old age. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection and defence of a religious, philosophical or intellectual position of some sort, the refutation of that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in our essentially secular society with its many religious and secular sub-groups. Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering critical inquiries and with criticism of a position in as rational a manner as possible.

The term apologist is colloquially applied in a general manner to include groups and individuals systematically promoting causes or beliefs, justifying orthodoxies or heterodoxies and denying or justifying certain events, among other exercises involving words and involving what some might call, pejoratively these days, spin. Apologists are often characterized as being deceptive while trying to white-wash their cause, primarily through omission of negative facts, selective perception and the exaggeration of positive facts as well as engaging in the techniques of classical rhetoric. When used in this context, the term just about always has that pejorative meaning. Although one would not want to edify all critical discussion with the label apologetics, in many ways disagreement back and forth, the lance and parry technique in our modern life, is just a modern version of the old game of apologetics that was once the sole province of theology. Apologetics is not possible, it seems to me anyway, without a commitment to and a desire to defend a position. There are, of course, professionals who engage in this sort of work. Some are philosophers with PhDs who are employed in philosophy departments and, more recently, in departments of other disciplines at universities. Some are theologians, priests and parsons. Some are parents, pied-pipers and parishioners. Some are famed and accomplished men and women of learning and vast erudition. Then, again, there are the sagacious leaders and influential personalities who constitute yet another category of people who engage in apologetics. And, finally, there are a host of others from the average bloke to the most humble who make no claim or pretence to engage in professional apologetics or even to hold necessarily informed views, but they still hold views being the human beings that they are and enjoying the process of talking about their views from time to time. This activity I engage in, namely apologetics, is a never ending exercise, although I do take time out like everyone else to eat, sleep and occasionally be merry. The apologetics that concerns me, and has for decades, is not a Christian or a Buddhist apologetics, or any one of a variety of what might be called secular apologetics, nor is it any one of a multitude of philosophical apologetics, nor an apologetics aimed at arguing the case for some secular issue from amphibians or Aborigines to whales or the preservation of the Yorubra tribe or the zebra. The apologetics that is of most interest to me is Bahai apologetics. There are, of course, many points of comparison and contrast between my apologetics and the apologetics of a vast array of others and their

apologetic positions. For apologetics is essentially a process that winds itself around some item of content. Christians defend their vi ew of Christianity by the use of apologetics; secular humanists argue their cases, existentialists theirs, Platonists theirs, and so on, if they so desire here in response to this initial statement. I will in turn defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process we all, hopefully, learn something about our respective faiths, our religions, our intellectual positions, our philosophies, among other things which we hold dearly or not-so-dearly to our hearts and minds. At the outset, then, in these my introductory words, my intention is simply to make a start, to state what you might call my apologetics position, my approach to and understanding of the process of apologetics. This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks, months and possibly years ahead should anyone want to pursue the exercise at this site. I am in the early evening of my late adulthood(60 to 80) and old age(80++) is many years ahead of me. So I plan to be around for some time to comeall being well, of course. Not everyone who reads this will want to take on such an exercise, this exercise in apologetics. That is a good thing or I would be inundated with responses beyond my coping capacity. To each their own, I say. This baton, so to speak, is held out to the few who might find this kind of employment to their interest and pleasure.-Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer for his discussion of Baha'i Apologetics in Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/2002 want in this second part of this post, these introductory words, to continue outlining my basic orientation to apologetics. The very notion of feeedom of expression in discussion is a fluid and elastic one and it assumes a very wide latitude from one mind to another. There are many ways of approaching apologetics whether one is a Christian, a Jew, a Bah or, indeed, any one of literally 1000s of positions on the spectrum of lifes views: practical, theoretical, religious or secular. Critical scholarly contributions or criticism raised in public or private discussions that are not scholarly, but are an obvious part of any apologetics of depth, of seriousness, should not necessarily be equated with hostility. The clash of opinions is to be encouraged, but not personalities. Critical thought requires candour and frankness. Questions are perfectly legitimate aspects of a person's search for an answer to an intellectual conundrum, to their search along the road of life or even a more casual and light-hearted exercise of inquiry which for millions is all they desire.

Paul Tillich, one of the more famous Protestant theologians of the 20th century, once expressed the view that apologetics was an "answering theology."(Systematic Theology, U. of Chicago, 1967, Vol.1, p6.). I would add that apologetics is both a questioning and an answering. It is a process very much like Alfred North Whiteheads process philosophy and one of its major extensions by Charles Hartshorne, but most readers here will probably know nothing of these men, so do not be concerned if you have not heard of them. Knowledge is useful in apologetics. But beliefs are often held passionately with little knowledge. Both knowledge and beliefs are relative and relative to so many factors. They are rooted in a person's present context, their meaning systems and their very subjectivity, among other things. There is much that those who know little about the Baha'i Faith do not need to ask me and I need not ask them about their position, religious or otherwise. For we can all, at least those who have access these days to the internet and can use it with some facility, find out just about anything we want to know about the views of another person--at least in a broad sense. The fine details of each person's views require the apologetics, the discussion, the dialogue--if the discussion is so desired. I have always been attracted to the founder of the Baha'i Faith's exhortations in discussion to "speak with words as mild as milk," with "the utmost lenience and forbearance." I am also aware that, in cases of rude or hostile attack, rebuttal with a harsher tone may well be justified. It does not help an apologist to belong to those "watchmen" whom the prophet Isaiah called "dumb dogs that cannot bark."(Isaiah, 56:10) At the same time, I prefer a type of barking that contains what you might call an etiquette of expression and the kind of acute exercise of judgement that evokes more of wisdom and less an invocation of the fires from heaven. In its essence apologetics is a kind of confrontation, an act of revealing one's true colours, of laying ones cards on the table, of hoisting ones flag, of telling what the true characteristics of ones faith, ones beliefs, ones views. Dialogue, as Hans Kung one of the most prestigious Catholic philosophers puts it, "does not mean self-denial."(See: Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics," Baha'i Studies Review, Vol.10, 2001/2) Schaefer goes on: "A faith that is opportunistically streamlined, adapting to current trends and one which conceals its real features, features that could provoke rejection in order to be acceptable for dialogue is in danger of losing its identity."

I would argue that a scientific approach to one's beliefs is simply and essentially an organization of one's knowledge, of making the most plausible and rational choice in the light of current knowledge. This organized form of knowledge gives directional principles to the process of dialogue. In a scientific approach to one's beliefs one asks: "does it work the way it says it works?" And if one is not inclined to go down any of these roads of apologetics, one simply steers the dialogue away from certain topics one does not want to discuss. One lets ones respondent know and, if kindness prevails and some sensitivity and understanding, people can actually talk to each other about topics once considered outside the pale like: sex, politics and religion. The feeling of certitude about ones beliefs or position is not the equivalent of knowledge. As I say, a sense of certitude can be held even when there is no knowledge. If our intellect accepts something as true, then our emotions begin to organize themselves around the idea and the idea becomes part of the way we live. This process of organizing our emotions around our assumptions is, to put it simply, our faith. It is this which is at the heart of any discussion of a person's apologetics. It is not something vague possessed by only the religious; it is something every human being possesses just like they possess a mind and a body. Assumptions are like axioms in geometry; they are the givens and arguments are then built on these givens, these totally explicit bases of the persons approach, their categorical imperatives. It is often impossible to get identity and complete agreement; some sense of equivalence and reciprocity often must be the norms in the discussion in our pluralistic society. It is often impossible as well to carry the torch of truth, of one's faith, especially on controversial subjects, through a crowd, whether that crowd is: religious, secular, philosophical, intellectual or, indeed, in a crowd of any sophistication and on any topic these days---without getting someone's beard singed. In the weeks, months and possibly years that follow, my responses to whoever writesin response to this first, this exploratory, missive, will probably wind up singing the beards of some readers and, perhaps, my own. Such are the perils of dialogue, of apologetics, of discussion, of search, of talking about things central to ones belief.-Ron Price, George Town, Tasmania, Australia.