Lee Strobel interviews Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) on the state of apologetics

Brian Auten of Apologetics 315
Brian Auten of Apologetics 315

From Bible Gateway, an interview by Lee Strobel featuring Brian Auten, webmaster of Apologetics 315.

Intro:

As creator of the best website for resources to defend Christianity, Brian Auten offers a unique perspective on the current apologetics scene—the good, the bad, and the hopeful.

Apologetics 315 features a terrific compilation of material for Christians to equip themselves to better define and defend the faith. It’s full of links to resources dealing with every imaginable area of apologetics. As a regular reader of the site, I became curious what its creator, Brian Auten, thinks about the current state of apologetics around the world—and he was willing to share his insights by answering a few questions.

Excerpt:

• What trends do you see in apologetics?

Consider books like The DaVinci Code, writings by agnostic professor Bart Ehrman, or the various publications of the so-called New Atheists. All these attacks on Christianity have generated a lot of buzz. However, each of these attacks has been met with a strong counter-response from scholars, theologians, and apologists. Christianity hasn’t been defeated. Instead, it has weathered storm after storm. In the meantime, the resources available that answer these challenges have increased dramatically. Over and over again, what has been intended to bring Christianity down has only served to strengthen it.

But the tendency is this: too many times Christians are only responding to the challenges. That seems to be the trend. Why are we not running to the battle? Instead of just reacting to the next challenge, I long for the day when more and more Christians would equip themselves with this vast armory of resources and use it to take the battle to the enemy’s camp, so to speak. Apologetic-savvy educators, scientists, public officials, businessmen, actors, novelists, movie-makers—all people with a heart of evangelism who are able to defend and contend for the faith in the public square could have an immense impact for the Gospel.

And more:

• You’re passionate about churches starting apologetics ministries. Are you seeing more of them doing this?

I want to see churches start their own apologetics ministries because it is our scriptural mandate to “always be prepared to give an answer.” Yet there often is very little preparation going on! When challenges to faith come, people struggle to find substantive answers. This may cause some believers to resort to a sort of “believe it anyway” mentality; for others it causes them to abandon the faith altogether.

Research by the Barna Group has shown that a majority of young people walk away from the faith around the time they go to college or university. They simply have not been equipped to deal with the secular challenges that come against their faith when they go to college. But what if they had been properly equipped to understand and answer these sorts of challenges? They would not only be able to stand up under the attacks, but they would also be able to share Christ with more confidence, knowing that they have good reasons undergirding their faith.

So I think it’s so crucial that our churches become training grounds where believers learn why they believe what they believe. Apologetics ministries and small group studies provide a venue for discipleship where people can work through the tough questions that they constantly face from the secular world. And what’s more, our faith is enriched to even deeper levels when we experience the joy of loving God with our minds.

Thankfully, I think we are seeing a rise in the number of churches that both see this need and are beginning to equip their congregations through apologetic teaching, small groups, conferences, and resources.

Read the whole thing. Tweet it, share it. Think about it!

There’s a great list of scholars and ministries in there as well. If you guys want to know what you should be reading to prepare your defense of theism and Christianity, leave a comment with your intended audience, and I will suggest some resources. I may even BUY YOU the resource, if you are a budding apologist who is conservative on economics and politics and foreign policy. Yes, I do that a lot on this blog – mailed out a dozen books this month already to people. Get to know me, I can help you to defend your faith.

10 thoughts on “Lee Strobel interviews Brian Auten (Apologetics 315) on the state of apologetics”

  1. Wintery…I am working with High School, College, and adult age people in Portland. i am the director of the RF Chapter here. My wife and I both are in PhD programs (Her in OT, me in NT). We have spent significant time in Biblical Studies, Languages, Historiography, and some Philosophical apologetics. When it comes to economics, politics, and foreign policy we are learning to crawl. Would you recommend anything that might get us walking on those issues?? I also am constantly in discussions about gay marriage here in portland. Do you recommend anything on that issue?

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    1. Oh my goodness, yes.

      If you are looking for a good basic book on economics, try these three:

      “The Politically Incorrect Guide to Capitalism” by Robert Murphy (Easy)
      “Basic Economics” by Thomas Sowell (Medium)

      If you are looking for something on politics:

      “Politics According to the Bible” by Wayne Grudem (Medium)

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  2. What do you suggest for the materialism/dualism, mind and brain debate? I have some stuff by JP Moreland on the argument from consciousness, a book called The Soul Hypothesis, The Spiritual Brain, The Mind and Brain, along with other random articles. The level would be for discussions with grad students and post-docs in science.

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    1. I posted your request without naming you on a secret discussion group, and here are the first few responses, Mysterious C.

      —- Scott:
      I would suggest Edward Feser’s “Introduction to the Philosophy of Mind” and Goetz & Taliaferro’s book “Naturalism”. Also Swinburne’s “Evolution of the Soul” and a collection of essays called “The Waning of Materialism”.

      There is also an int…eresting science book that is in no way tied to Christianity called “The Holographic Universe” by Michael Talbot that undermines materialism and has some interesting evidence from multiple personality disorder as well as near-death experiences and miraculous healings.

      And a REALLY good one from a scientific standpoint is “The Matter Myth” by Paul Davies. He’s a leading scientist who has concluded that the naturalistic belief that “matter is fundamental” is simply false.
      —-

      —-Sarah:
      Ray Tallis is an atheist and is not a substance dualist, but is very helpful when building a case against either materialism or epiphenomenalism. He has a new book coming out in July, and has a reasonably recent article which I cannot figure out how to attach to a comment.

      http://www.thenewatlantis.com/publications/what-neuroscience-cannot-tell-us-about-ourselves
      —-

      —- Sam:
      ‎”The Recalcitrant Imago Dei: Human Nature and the Failure of Naturalism” by J.P. Moreland. I haven’t actually read it, but I’m pretty sure it’s got something about substance dualism in there. Of course it’s probably not much different than every other place Moreland has written on the same subject.
      —-

      —- Sean:
      John Foster’s _The Immaterial Self_ belongs on any list like this.
      William Hasker’s _The Emergent Self_ defends an emergent substance dualism; Peter Unger’s _All the Power in the World_ (a massive tome) has a chapter defending substance dualism.
      —-

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    2. —- John:
      Popper and Eccles, _The Self and it Brain_ Routledge, 1977.

      See also:

      W. Penfield, _The Mystery of Mind_ Princeton U Press, 1975.

      W. D. Hart, _Engines of the Soul_ Cambridge U Press, 1988.

      D. Braine, _The Human Person_ Notre Dame U Press, 1992.

      C. Taliaferro, _Consciousness and the Mind of God_ Cambridge U Press, 1994.

      K. Yandell, “A Defense of Dualism,” _Faith and Philosophy_ 12 (1995): 548-566.

      D. Zimmerman, “Christians Should Affirm Mind-Body Dualism” in Peterson and VanArragon’s _Contemporary Debates in Philosophy of Religion_, Blackwell, 2003.

      F. Dilley, “Taking Consciousness Seriously: A Defense of Cartesian Dualism,” _International Journal for Philosophy of Religion_ 55 (2004): 135-153.

      S. Goetz, “Substance Dualism” in Green and Palmer’s _In Search of the Soul: Four Views_ IVP 2005.

      A. Plantinga, “Against Materialism,” _Faith and Philosophy_ 23 (2006): 3-32.

      B. Leftow, “Soul, Mind, and Brain,” in G. Bealer and R. Koons’s _The Waning of Materialism_ Oxford U Press, 2010.

      E. J. Lowe, “Substance Dualism: A Non-Cartesian Approach,” in G. Bealer and R. Koons’s _The Waning of Materialism_ Oxford U Press, 2010.

      I have more, but this (in conjunction with the many recommendations already given — I would also recommend the works by Swinburne, Moreland, and Hasker) should be enough to get things going.
      —-

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    3. Mysterious C,
      Some of WK’s links may touch on this, but I think the implications of quantum mechanics on consciousness are too often ignored, possibly because QM can be a bit complicated. At the risk of shameless self-promotion, here’s a short essay I wrote on the subject:
      http://www.shenvi.org/Essays/QuantumMechanics.htm
      The thesis of my essay is that QM tends to undermine materialism with regard to conssciousness and more broadly.
      -Neil

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  3. Thanks for all the suggestions. They are really helpful. There’s definitely enough to keep me going for a while. I will definitely end up being the only researcher who has read in such depth. Most everyone I’m around just assumes you are your brain.

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