Welcome @Randal_Rauser. Thanks for sharing some insight with us. I’ll also be putting this book on my list to peruse when my semester begins to slow down.
This is all too true. I have a problem with some of the apologetic and Christian books never driving to primary sources, but thinking through a position already filtered through our own team’s secondary sources. Not helpful at trying to understand one’s neighbors.
I did work with Ruse at Florida State, finishing my PhD in 2015. All I can say is that it was a blast working with him. He has written a book called, Can a Darwinian Be A Christian, where I remember telling him that his understanding of Christianity is better than many Christians! His answer to the title’s question was: Yes, but you need to liberalize your Christianity. He has a naturalistic Humean proclivity that disallows miracles except as pure existential experiences. Jesus did not and could not rise from the dead for Ruse.
This was more than likely due to the fact that he thinks Christians are irrational to believe in “real” miracles. It really is a sticking point for him, as it is, I imagine, for most atheists! His Quaker background, however, he often credits with his curious nature and educational career of working with people from all backgrounds. He really has been blessed with great Christian friends, he talks about it often. He used to throw big BBQ’s on Sundays were he would invite all his students, faculty friends, and then community friends for eating, drinking, and merry making. I remember bumping into local pastors and youth workers at those gatherings. In some sense, he was running the opposite of @Randal_Rauser in terms of providing ahteistic apologetics through hospitality!
I think this is largely correct in that the apologetic mind is one that is tacitly trained into formal debate modes. I wouldn’t blame Craig for this, but more those who are distilling Craig’s content second hand, training up the youth as little clone apologists. I’ve worked hard with my students at the college to get their apologetic facts straight, but then also work hard at conversing with their neighbor’s to learn where their neighbor’s actual questions arise. In fact, much to the chagrin of my colleagues I imagine, I highly encourage students to spend an evening at the local casino playing $5 blackjack and conversing with the people who come and go from the table. Apologetic books don’t quite capture the images of humanity that arise when students meet the colorful cast of characters that hang around $5 blackjack tables!
If I’m following @swamidass here, I think he is right that while the facts of the resurrection can be used in mode of apologetics being questioned here, the resurrection, facts and all, are the locus of the hope from 1 Peter 3:15. Thus, the apologetic conversation, and evangelism generally, is to proclaim the promise of eternal life granted through Jesus’ death and resurrection. Ultimately, apologetics is useless if it isn’t centering on that death and resurrection. Antony Flew was not a win for Christianity in his conversation from atheism to deism/theism. Philosophically, it was a win, but it really only showed that philosophers can change their minds about some basic presuppositions they hold, big deal, philosophers and scientists do this all the time. Why don’t we role the red carpet out for someone who moves from an antirealist to realist position on numbers?
Or, at the very least, recognize that we may not know. I always push the Socratic line from his famous Apology, that “wisdom is knowing that we do not know,” coupled with his critique of the various important people of Athen’s having knowledge that was beyond the realm of human possibility. Take home is that human knowledge, even human theological knowledge, is fallible and incomplete. I think this Socratic point meshes nicely with Biblical verses such as Proverbs 9:10 where the beginning of Wisdom is the fear of the Lord. We should always be willing to admit that we simply don’t know – it often invites a mutual search for understanding.
When I do any apologetic teaching these days, I use 1 Peter 3:15 to zero in on the important Christocentric aspect of hope in the verse, but I quickly move to Colossians to talk about “method”:
See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.
Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.
It doesn’t exclude what you’ll are calling the Biola method, but opens the conversation to a much broader conversation about apologetic methodology.
I think I’m on the same page with you here. I don’t have time to wade into the Jesus and Theism thread today, but I really don’t see the need to hash out logical priors in this case. Scripture seems pretty clear that knowing Jesus is knowing God. A logical hierarchy seems a rather impossible task outside of how Scripture speaks about approaching God through Christ due to the nature of the Trinity.
I look forward to seeing how this thread develops with @Randal_Rauser!