Here’s a caricature of Christian apologists: They are people who put on a front of using slick, pat arguments, ignoring, glossing over or oversimplifying real difficulties with their faith. Deep, deep down they know that what they say is full of holes and they doubt the truth of their religious beliefs, but they suppress and ignore those doubts. That will be true in some cases no doubt, but I really don’t think it’s true in general (and I hope you know that this is coming from somebody who has no trouble expressing frustration with the apologetics community when he thinks it’s justified). But we need to work at keeping it that way. What I’m about to do is part of that effort.
It will come as little surprise that I think a lot of people who have strong opinions on religion, even those who write about religion and get paid for it (unlike some of us!) frequently know much less about it than would be desirable, given how much they say. And one of the things people don’t seem to realise is that doubt exists, even for people of strong faith.
Just yesterday I saw the provocative story title in the Sydney Morning Herald: “Archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby questions the existence of God.”
Tertullian was a Church Father of the late second century. He’s sometimes called the father of Latin Christianity. He is also frequently quoted as a person who thought that reason and faith have little if anything to do with each other. The quote is “I believe because it is absurd.” The suggestion that usually accompanies the quote is that to believe against all reason, to believe things that rational thought tells us are just unreasonable, and to thereby have faith in God, is some sort of virtue that Christianity promotes.