Notice that both LaCour and Boylan both use the term "apologist." And Dr. Peterson helpfully explains what sets a Mopologist apart when he disagrees with this comment from LaCour:Sic et Non wrote:Nearly three years ago now, the astoundingly prolific and productive Irish Latter-day Saint writer Robert Boylan posted this interesting blog entry:
“Some tips on becoming an effective apologist”
Now, my friend Tarik LaCour, who is currently pursuing a Ph.D. in philosophy and a master’s degree in neuroscience at Texas A&M University, has published an interesting item on his own blog that I commend to your attention. It’s entitled
“How to be a Good Apologist.”
Peterson is not having any of this.Tarik LaCour wrote:Take on the heavyweights
While many people have read things like the CES Letter and responded to it, the people the apologist should focus on are the academics who take Mormonism (sorry President Nelson) or religion seriously and make informed criticisms of it that are not made in jest or to simply make people of faith appear to be non-thinking uninformed people. The philosophers I mentioned at the end of the previous section are examples of the kind of people you want to address, not people like the New Atheists who are popularisers rather than serious scholars.
Quite interesting to watch him admit, with such candor, that he's basically abandoned any notion of "work[ing] on a sophisticated level." He's opted, instead, to get down in the "muck" with 5th-rate "thinkers" like Ed Decker and John Ankerberg. This is quite stunning, and, with his pending retirement, I wonder if we'll get more admissions like this in the coming months. I mean, this is basically an admission that he pissed away his entire academic career pursing his arguments with the likes of Ed Decker and Loftes Tryk. *That* is his legacy. He *wants* do engage with Plato, Plotinus and al-Ghazali? Then what's stopping him? He's had his entire career to do so. But he doesn't elaborate on this very much beyond this brief comment:DCP wrote:I must, however, quibble with his advice to “Take on the heavyweights” — at least, to the extent that he means by that advice that (as he actually says) apologists should ignore intellectually unserious challenges like the notorious “CES Letter” and the bestselling “New Atheists.”
I readily grant that “New Atheists” like Richard Dawkins and the late Christopher Hitchens — to say nothing of the unfortunate “CES Letter” — aren’t exactly “heavyweights” of the kind that Brother LaCour commends to our attention. Their facts are often cherry-picked, when not altogether fictional, their interpretations are all too often caricatures, their logic is slipshod, and so on and so forth. I absolutely agree.
But it’s the “New Atheists” and the “CES Letter” — and other people and arguments on a similar low level — that are damaging testimonies and destroying faith among (especially) young Latter-day Saints, and rendering many people outside the Church inaccessible to our missionary efforts. It’s not the works of J. L. Mackie, Paul Draper, Alex Rosenberg, or David Hume.
So, yes, it would be more gratifying always to work on a sophisticated level, and, yes, the arguments of sophisticated atheistic thinkers absolutely merit serious attention and faithful response. I believe that academically-equipped Latter-day Saint apologists should be doing just that. Indeed, I wish that more Latter-day Saints with the appropriate academic training and the necessary capability, from many fields, would give at least some attention to apologetics in all fields, not only in philosophy. And, yes, this comes at a cost. More than once, I myself have lamented the time and energy that I’ve felt that I had to allocate to analyzing the works of such relatively dim bulbs as Ed Decker, John Ankerberg, and John Weldon (as here and here), and the effusions of the balmy loon Loftes Tryk, when I ought rather to be engaging Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, al-Farabi, al-Kirmani, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd (Averroës), and St. Thomas Aquinas, as I was trained to do, as I want to do, and as I set out on my career to do.
Fair enough: the Holy Ghost told him that he had to pick fights with Jeremy Runnells, John Dehlin, and Loftes Tryk. Okay. All you can really do is shrug at that. But then you take notice of his own admission that he's telling you this "at the risk of sounding vainglorious." Ha ha. Right. Bear in mind that he began the post by linking to Boylan's three-year-old blog entry. Guess what Boylan says:DCP wrote:But I did feel the obligation. It seemed to me a pastoral duty. In fact, at the risk of sounding vainglorious, it seemed to me something of a “calling.”
It raises an interesting--and very important--Mopologetic question: Is it okay, as an LDS apologist, to "show off, or simply to embarrass people" if it helps you to successfully defend the faith? (And I do realize the definition of "success" can vary wildly here....) If "truth and eternity" are at stake, then I guess smear campaigns are okay?Boylan wrote:(7) Engage in apologetics for the right reasons: We are all called to defend the faith as well as provide the strong reasons for belief therein, and that is what apologetics ultimately is. It is not to “show off” one's knowledge; it is not to “embarrass” others, etc. I will readily admit that, when I was younger, I did have a more acidic attitude and would engage with people just to “show them up.” Fortunately, I have repented of such an attitude, albeit, imperfectly. If one is wishing to enter the realm of LDS apologetics just to vent, show off, or simply to embarrass people, such is not proper as it goes against 1 Pet 3:16, where one is called to glorify Christ in their apologetic. At the same time, one has to be forceful at times, as truth and eternity itself is at stake.
Very, very revealing. You seldom catch the Mopologists speaking so candidly these days.