What Apologetics Really Is

In psychology, you can change your attitude or you can change your behavior, and it’s always easier to change an attitude than it is to change a behavior.

That’s apologetics; what it is really. Apologetics gives the doubting believer heavily enmeshed in a political or religious system an excuse–an attitude adjustment–as substitute for a change of behavior. It’s just easier.

That’s why apologetics to outsiders is perceived so frequently as inane. It often is inane–the reasoning is strained and off-kilter, superficially plausible, and never quite right–but it helps the believer to stay where she is and have a more positive attitude about it, which is its function.

The truth is not its function. An example: the Republican Party, circa 2013. Everybody knows that the demographics of the United States are changing rapidly–it’s becoming “browner” and socially more liberal–and that the party can’t go on for more than another decade (at the very most) appealing predominantly to white and socially conservative constituencies. But there’s a good deal of apologetic defense for maintaining just such a political strategy, “full Tea Party steam ahead.” It’s not because the arguments for such a strategy are sound, it’s because such arguments are easier than behavior change.

One more example: if you’re overweight and you hear someone on a television infomercial claim that weight is primarily a function of genetics, that the link between cholesterol and heart disease is a myth, and that you can lose weight without exercise, you’re primed to accept the arguments in support of the claims because, if they’re true, you don’t have to change your eating and exercise habits, and so all is right with the world. You can go back to sleep on your couch, potato.

That’s what apologetics is. Permission to nap masquerading as critical thinking. It’s a nighty-night aid.

About Santi Tafarella

I teach writing and literature at Antelope Valley College in California.
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2 Responses to What Apologetics Really Is

  1. Tony Debono says:

    Agreed! Now how do penetrate that glossed over, half-smiling, “it’s true for me” wall of “reality isn’t good enough for me, therefore Jesus!” in order to talk to the thinking person who allegedly resides within?

  2. Staffan says:

    There is another changing demographics that liberals usually ignore – White flight. It’s been going on since the mid 1970s and it reduces the tax base for the diverse states. This is the process that killed Detroit, and the same thing is happening all over America. But hey, you win the election on who should rule the ruins : )

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