Loftier Musings On Kreeft’s Handbook of Catholic Apologetics.
Our compelling reasons to write this book are three:
- We are certain the Christian faith is true.
- We are only a little less certain that the very best thing we can possibly do for others is to persuade them of this truth, in which there is joy and peace and love incomparable in this world, and infinite incomprehensible in the next.
- We are a little less certain, but still confident, that honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to this very same conclusion. (Kreeft and Tacelli, Handbook of Catholic Apologetics, p. 9, 2009)
When the authors say: “We are certain the Christian faith is true” and “We are a little less certain, but still confident, that honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to this very same conclusion.” – they seem to be engaging in some fallacious reasoning.
After all – they are certain Christianity is true, yet less certain that honest reasoning can lead you there? What are the authors privy to, that you or I might not be? One might say that the authors are suggesting it is the reader who brings their own presuppositions to the table that makes for the uncertainty – that the evidence is enough to make the authors certain, but you may make faulty conclusions. Aside from this being a nice little switching of the burden of proof fallacy, the authors bypass the above statement by claiming that “honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to this very same conclusion” – which means in cases of honest individuals reasoning, the same conclusions made by the authors should be met – after all if the evidence is there and we are looking at it honestly – why wouldn’t we come to the conclusion Christianity is true? Could it be that the evidence isn’t there – and Christians have made an epistemic leap to unjustified conclusions? Not according to these authors – it is because you are being dishonest, close minded and unreasonable – unfortunately ad hominem is a fallacy that does not solve arguments.
Moreover we see a nice little apologetic tactic in there too – something to help nuzzle believers into a comfort zone of unthreatening acceptance – “honest reasoning can lead any open-minded person to this very same conclusion.” – therefore any who don’t accept their conclusions are dis-honest, close-minded and un-reasonable? Unfortunately an unbeliever is immediately put on the back foot by these kind of statements, and is left to wonder, without answer, just why they are so unreasonable, close-minded and dishonest. One might surmise it is simply because they have come to different conclusions than the Christian? As I have mentioned before - I really do love how much “The Gnu Atheists are slammed (see here, here, here and here - not to mention the plethora of Christian books responding to and making money off the New Atheism) for being arrogant, offensive, intolerant of religion (etc ad nauseam) yet believers seem not to notice when they do the exact thing they seem to despise, to atheists (see here and here) – but I guess it’s ok when you’ve got God on your side.
One wonders what their second point has to, specifically do, with a theistic worldview: ” in which there is joy and peace and love incomparable in this world”? Surely an atheist or a theist of a different stripe is free to hold notions of this kind? Moreover an atheist is welcome to believe in the ontological truth of this statement “and infinite incomprehensible in the next.” so again we ask – why would one need to accept theism and go further, to Christianity – when there is no need? One might also ask just why they think evangelism is such a positive thing? All we need do is look at this Christian news site, to see just how much harm comes to believers around the world, from other believers – surely a secular, enlightened way of thinking would help these parts of the world? At the very least we see, Christianity is not helping.
Kreeft P. J., Tacelli R.K. (2009). Handbook of Catholic Apologetics. San Francisco. Ignatius Press. P. 9.
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