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Author Topic:   Equipoise, Faith & the Purpose of Apologetics
GlassSoul
Inactive Member


Message 1 of 4 (337083)
07-31-2006 10:10 PM


When investigating a claim, common ethics require that one approach the claim with equipoise. To quote a rather nice definition from the January issue of Skeptical Inquirer, "Equipoise means beginning one's research, investigation, or diagnosis without bias. Equipoise is essential so that the investigation can be pursued adequately, as bias can influence data acquisition. If an investigator begins acquiring data with an aim toward finding something in particular, then one is apt to discard some data, or misinterpret data, even potentially unconsciously, in order to confirm one's hypothesis."
Hello all. I'm happy to see that this board has a forum dedicated to the topic of faith. I've come to a time in my life when it feels important to me to understand the roles of faith and skepticism. In particular, I'm fascinated and puzzled by the purpose of apolgetics and would like to discuss it.
My background is Christian, so when I think of apologetics, I tend to think of Christian apologetics. To be quite frank, as I began to lose my Christian faith, apologetics that once seemed brilliant to me came to seem unconvincing in the extreme. Has anyone else had this experience? Why would this be?
To quote Hebrews 11:1 from the NIV, "Now faith is being sure of what we hope to find and certain of what we do not see." Can a person of faith examine an apologetic for that faith with equipoise? Is it possible to present an apologetic for a matter of faith that will seem excellent when approached with equipoise? If an apologetic does indeed stand up to harsh skeptical scrutiny, has it by very definition passed outside of the pale of faith and entered the scientific realm? Does one require faith, as it has been suggested to me, in order to approach an apologetic "aright?"
Is there some middle ground or a third alternative that I'm failing to take into consideration?
Edited by GlassSoul, : No reason given.

My looking ripens things and they come toward me, to meet and be met. ~ Rilke

Replies to this message:
 Message 2 by AdminFaith, posted 07-31-2006 11:12 PM GlassSoul has replied

AdminFaith
Inactive Member


Message 2 of 4 (337094)
07-31-2006 11:12 PM
Reply to: Message 1 by GlassSoul
07-31-2006 10:10 PM


Hi GlassSoul, and welcome to EvC.
If you haven't spent much time looking around it would be a good idea to do so, and especially to read up on the Forum Guidelines.
I don't think I completely understand your post, even well enough to suggest improvements. Maybe I can at least break it down enough to get some questions going.
If, as Hebrews 11:1 suggests, faith allows one's hopes take on a virtual substance, can a person of faith examine an apologetic for that faith with equipoise?
1) I gather that "equipoise" simply means neutrality, an absence of bias. It might be clearer if you used a more common word.
2) I have a problem with the idea that "faith allows one's hopes to take on a virtual substance." I've never read that passage in Hebrews that way. I take it to mean simply that there is an invisible reality that faith permits us to recognize. As one commentator puts it, faith is a sense like seeing or hearing, "a 'sense' that gives us evidence of the invisible, spiritual world." If you mean something different from this, please explain further.
3) I don't understand how faith's being "the substance of things hoped-for..." relates to "examin[ing] an apologetic for that faith with equipoise [or without bias.]"
Is it possible to present an apologetic for a matter of faith that will seem excellent when approached with equipoise? If an apologetic does indeed stand up to harsh skeptical scrutiny, has it by very definition passed outside of the pale of faith and entered the scientific realm? Does one require faith, as it has been suggested to me, in order to approach an apologetic "aright?"
4) This is confusing because I understand apologetics to be arguments addressed to unbelievers, not to believers.
5) Is it possible you are asking something simpler, such as whether a person who has faith can be truly neutral about that faith? If so, it might help if you spell out more of your thoughts about this.
I hope this will help you make your post clearer.
Please reply to this post when you're ready.
Edited by AdminFaith, : No reason given.


This message is a reply to:
 Message 1 by GlassSoul, posted 07-31-2006 10:10 PM GlassSoul has replied

Replies to this message:
 Message 3 by GlassSoul, posted 08-01-2006 12:09 AM AdminFaith has not replied

GlassSoul
Inactive Member


Message 3 of 4 (337107)
08-01-2006 12:09 AM
Reply to: Message 2 by AdminFaith
07-31-2006 11:12 PM


HI. Thanks for the suggestions.
I'd really like to keep the term "equipoise" in there. The first paragraph defines it quite nicely, I think. "Unbiased" is a fairly good synonym, but "counterbalanced" would be a better one.
Instead of putting my own spin on the Hebrews passage, why don't I simply quote it from the NIV. I think doing that makes the questions that follow a little clearer. I've gone ahead and changed that.
Apologetics may be addressed to unbelievers (and believers too, I would think), but not all unbelievers are skeptics. The passage in Hebrews seems to me to describe a mindset that is the antithesis of equipoise. In light of that, can an apologetic be posed for a matter of faith that will stand up to skeptical inquiry?
So, I'm not really asking if a person who has faith can be neutral about his faith, but whether a neutral person can be brought to faith by means of an apologetic.
Edited by GlassSoul, : No reason given.

This message is a reply to:
 Message 2 by AdminFaith, posted 07-31-2006 11:12 PM AdminFaith has not replied

AdminFaith
Inactive Member


Message 4 of 4 (337115)
08-01-2006 12:42 AM


Thread copied to the Equipoise, Faith & the Purpose of Apologetics thread in the Faith and Belief forum, this copy of the thread has been closed.

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