Apologetics is not for unbelievers. It's not exactly for convincing oneself either, but it is definitely not for atheists. Its' pointless trying to convince someone of something that is contrary to their paradigm. Paradigms control all. People are not capable of seeing into a different world. They live in the world they are in, the world of the paradigm. Paradigm shifts only happen when there are too many anomalies to be absorbed by the old paradigm. Until that happens there's no convincing someone his paradigm is wrong. Now you might think this means that we should go about the task of trying pile up anomalies. The problem with that is atheists are able to absorb vast amounts of anomalies into their paradigm and they employ a verity of methods to do so. Kuhn says this is what happens, the ruling paradigm can adsorb a certain degree of anomalies and until you get so many that the paradigm can't deal with them any more and the paradigm starts to shift, they are just all absorbed and don't' seem to matter.
Now I think little by little the paradigm is shifting, it will eventually turn over. It will probably never be non-materialists or "spiritualist." But it is clear that the old paradigm has given way in several areas and ideas that would once have been considered totally loony are now part of the new paradigm. The problem is the new paradigm is packaged as a continuation of the old; in other words, the old materialist paradigm has now given way to the new physicalist. The difference being that under the old paradigm (materialist) only materiel things were possible. Reality was thought of as the "material" realm. Then it was realized that energy is another form of matter, so it's not mater itself and thus more than just mater is possible.So the new paradigm (phsyicalist) says that only what is physical is possible. Spirit still ruled out (except it can come in the back door in the form of energy) but it is recognized that there are two media for existence, rather than just the material there is also energy (which is another form of matter).
Meanwhile, there are many areas through which the evil idealism has seeped into the new paradigm: healing in medicine, the idea of mind over matter, realms beyond that of nature (which is what string membranes are) but they have to be packed as "physical." As long as it all part of "the physical" (which is idealist enough as it goes, then it can have a place. So ideas which never have been considered fifty years ago are now front and center. But the only proviso is we can't acknowledge it. We have to keep up the charade that idealism/spiritualism is beaten and materialism (in the form of physicalism which allows for energy) prevails. But in prevailing it makes room for other realms beyond that of nature (space/time) mind over matter, healing in medicine, archetypes, here's a complete list:
(1) Quantum Theory (no need for cause/effect)
(2) Big bang Cosmology (realm beyond the natrual)
(3) Medicine (healing)
(4) Consciousness (invites concept of dualism)
(6) Maslow's Archetypes (universal ideas)
(7) Miracles (empirical evidence)
(8) Near Death Experiences (scientific evidence)
(9) Esp Research (the fact that they do it)
(10) Validity of religious experince (Shrinks no longer assume pathology)
(11) Mind over matter (pleacebo effect).
For this reason I am willing to think that the paradigm will eventually shift. It probably wont ever allow for "supernatural," but it will contain supernatural-like ideas masquerading as materialist/physicialist. We already see it now in the mind over matter of the placebo effect.
Nevertheless, despite this movement, the materialist/physicalist paradigm can absorb an almost infinite amount things that are anomalous in thier behavior simply because "energy" covers a multitude of idealist propositions. Anything not material can always be sold as "energy." Pure idea can be sold as brain chemistry because it has to be transmitted that way. Thus Dawkins insists there cant' be a mind without a brain. But what's really being said there is that any form of ideal or idea or "mind" or anything not material can always be coopted as "energy" and thus it can never be anomalous under a physicalist paradigm. But there's another reason as well why it will take a long time for a big paradigm shift. There is no end of atheist incredulity. The physicalist paradigm lends itself to incredulity because we know it works. We don't know the range of its limitations because we can't produce evidence under the same paradigm of things beyond the paradigm, so of course we can exclude any hint of actual anomaly. Of course we can't expect evidence under the paradigm that would legitimate anomalies of that same paradigm, then they wouldn't be anomalies. The incredulity factor always allows one to put it in the magic pressure cooker and (whish wish) it's gone!
Here's an example of what I mean. Here's an example of a Saint making miracle from my miracles page. It's no longer found on the URL it once was, so the link doesn't work. But it was there:
Society for the Little Flower (Website) FAQ (visited 6/3/01) St. Theresse of Lisieux
"Regarding St. Therese, in 1923 the Church approved of two spontaneous cures unexplained by medical treatment. Sister Louise of St. Germain was cured of the stomach ulcers she had between 1913 and 1916. The second cure involved Charles Anne, a 23 year old seminarian who was dying from advanced pulmonary tuberculosis. The night he thought he was dying, Charles prayed to Therese. Afterward, the examining doctor testified, "The destroyed and ravaged lungs had been replaced by new lungs, carrying out their normal functions and about to revive the entire organism. A slight emaciation persists, which will disappear within a few days under a regularly assimilated diet." These two miracles resulted in Therese becoming beatified."
The atheists on carm treated this with total incredulity. It has to be a lie. First they said I made it up. then I linked to the site and they could see it was their and howled with laughter. How stupid could I be? It's a religious site dedicated to that saint to of course it's a lie! I gave all the evidence on miracles pages about the rules of miracles in RCC and showed that they use medical evdience, there x-rays of the lungs and so on. But they insisted this is not good because its not in a medical journal. So I emailed a member of the committee, a medical expert who does research for the medical committee, and he vouched for its authenticity. That's no good, he' on that committee so he's lying. I brought up the x-rays, well I don't have the x-rays so its' still lie. I would have to have the x-rays in my hot little hand before it could actually be accepted. If i actually get the xrays from the Vatican, which were taken in the early part of the 20th century, (like that's a fair requirement that I some little guy in Texas, a prot, with no official connections could get these xrays), if I did have them don't you think they would still say its a lie? x-rays can be fabricated. So it's an anomaly and it will always be an anomaly because one may always doubt.
I recently had a discussion on my message boards about my mystical experience arguments (The Trace of God). I was as clear as anyone could be, and i worked several times to meet the evidential burden required by the atheist dialogue "partner." But this guy just played dense. He refused to get it. But I think a Chrsitain poster named "Wordgazer" really summed it up best:
FWIW, I didn't have any trouble following or understanding Metacrock's reasoning, and I do think he addressed each of Marxiavelli's concerns. What it looked like to me was that Marxiavelli was looking at things through his scientific materialist worldview, and was either unable or unwilling to shift to a different perspective. For example, he seemed to think Metacrock was using the religious experience argument to prove one particular set of religious beliefs, and because they didn't do this, Marxiavelli appeared to think that this trumped all rational warrant for a belief in anything non-material at all. But Metacrock was not arguing for Christianity; he was arguing for the interaction between humans and something Divine that was undefined. What I was seeing was something that I myself have experienced-- the challenge by an atheist to prove theism, but only within the atheism box. Invitations to climb out of the box and look further, were apparently misunderstood as not answering the questions. There were a few times that Metacrock got frustrated, but I really don't think he was being "extremely and unnecessarily aggressive."
We live in different worlds. The world of the atheist is not the world of the theist and they don't want to see into my world. They want to reassure themselves that it's ok to deny my world is valid and to secure their own world. One can hide a lot of anomalies that way. As Wordgazer said it's really just a matter of who wants to see what. Of course they would impune my motives for wanting to see the validity of my world, but pat themselves on the back and rationalize their biases as "hard nosed critical thinking." Hard nosed critical thinking that does not want to see.
This is why the realizing God (existential phenomenological who ha) is really the only tenable approach. Until one is willing make a realization, or until one does make such a realization, the anomalies will always be absorbed into he paradigm. "Realizing God" is nothing more than a change in the ground, a shift in consciousness, a paradigm shift. The materialist paradigm is front end loaded with built-in incredulity as a defense mechanism against shifts.
But all of this really biols down to is good old fashioned sin. "5 And the light shineth in darkness; and the darkness comprehended it not." (John 1:5). No amount of evdience will ever shit them and no amount of logic will ever read them.
Now this doesn't mean that I wont continue the friendships I've made. I have made freinds with some atheists, and some who are good people who I really like. I will continue those friendships and we can discuss anything. But I wont discuss God with them or God arguments. There's no point. The literal reading of the "great commission" (the Bible doesn't call it that) says "where ever you happen to be going, tell them the truth." I did tell them. They didn't want to get it.