Monday, September 21, 2009


Apologitis is a fairly common ailment on religious blogs which discuss interfaith issues. If you have any two of the following symptoms in a thread, you probably have apologitis:

1) You feel compelled to respond to every critique of your religion such that you spend hours discussing minutia, because everything must be defended. Typical examples are arguing about how your opponent is arguing, and quick, ill thought out responses which, after you read them, even you can see are full of question begging and poor reasoning but never retracted or clarified. But SOMETHING had to be said!

2) You will not retract an obviously false argument because it will hurt your "team". Examples are, when the facts are against you, simply state your opponent does not understand what you are saying about your incredibly deep and nuanced tradition, despite the fact it is a valid critique and the critique does show some tension in your beliefs. This is often used as evidence of the density of your opponent, and that he needs homework assignments. These homework assignments are best when they are thick tomes full of obscure language. This re-enforces the point that your opponent does not understand you and your incredibly deep tradition, as only the knowledgeable can really "get" the source you have assigned, which will clear everything up as soon as they are read.

Another tactic is to feign fatigue because your bovine opponent cannot deal with your rapier-like wit and argumentation. At all times, it is critical to insure the light of reason is shown to be 100% on your side, while anything your opponent says is so obviously wrong only a simpleton could possibly believe it and deny the luminescence of the Truth(tm).

3) You act passive-aggressive toward your opponent in an attempt to look superior. Examples are trying to get the last word explicitly by constantly posting to exhaust your opponent, or implicitly by posting an aggressive argument and offering to let the opponent get the last word out of the bigness of your hart; combined with the statement about the obvious dullness of your opponent.

4) You claim that what ever criteria your tradition has for determining truth is applicable for any other tradition. When cornered, you simply appeal to the obvious truth of the epistemological structure your tradition uses. Examples are Roman Catholics citing Roman Catholic traditions as if they are self evident or wild claims that "the Church" has stated something which "the" Church has not, or Protestants simply citing their confessional documents and/or the peculiar interpretations of Scripture of said tradition as proof.

The cure is Christian humility.

1) If your tradition depends on a single pet argument you have, you need to find a new tradition because it is a weak and easily refuted tradition.

2) As a corollary, if your tradition depends on you to defend it, find another tradition for the same reason.

3) A little intellectual honesty goes a long way. If someone does not accept the same authority you do, that authority is pretty useless for convincing anyone, no matter how many times you post it and pretend the truth is obvious. Also, any tradition which is not brand new will have something going for it, so don't pretend otherwise either actually or rhetorically.

4) Rhetorical games make your argument look weak. If you don't have the time to post, it is almost always better to just say so and not try and gain the upper hand with a faux magnanimity. Alternatively, if someone is a jerk, just stop posting and don't feed the troll--see 1 and 2 above.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

ZOMG!!! I have Apologitis!

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