Since there are so many questions raised and issues discussed concerning people’s basic assumptions about life, about their philosophy, about their religious beliefs, indeed, about their very approach to reality and the way their society goes about organizing things, it seemed like a useful exercise, useful at least to me and hopefully to some others at this site, to say a few things about: My Position and Beliefs: My Religion. Religion, in the sense that I am using it here, is the set of values, beliefs and attitudes each of us has as we go about our daily life at a particular moment in time, in this case, at the time of my writing of this post on the internet and in the case of the person reading this post, at the time of the response of that reader. I hope this opening note of some 1700 words provides a general, a useful, a helpful context for any continuing discussion you and I may have. If the note I strike is too long, I advise readers to just click me off, a simple enough exercise of the hand and the mind.-Ron Price in Australia.
Apologetics is a branch of systematic theology, although some experience its thrust in religious studies or philosophy of religion courses. Some encounter it on the internet for the first time in a more populist and usually much less academic form. As I see it, apologetics is primarily concerned with the protection of a position, the refutation of the issues raised by that position's assailants and, in the larger sense, the exploration of that position in the context of prevailing philosophies and standards in a secular society, a religious society, indeed, any society past or present. All of us defend our positions whatever these positions are: atheistic, theistic, agnostic, humanistic, skeptic, cynic, realist, pragmatist and any one of a multitude of religions, denominations, sects, cults, isms and wasms.
Apologetics, to put it slightly differently, is concerned with answering both general and critical inquiries from others. In the main, though, apologetics deals with criticism of a position and dealing with that criticism in as rational a manner as possible. Apologetics can help explore the teachings of a religion or of a philosophy in the context of the prevailing religions and philosophies of the day as well as in the context of the common laws and standards of a secular society. Although the capacity to engage in critical self-reflection on the fundamentals of some position is a prerequisite of the task of engaging in apologetics, apologetics derives much of its impetus from a commitment to a position.
Given the role of apologetics in religious and philosophical history and in the development of the texts and ideas that are part and parcel of that history, it is surprising that contemporary communities generally undervalue its importance and often are not even aware of the existence of this sub-discipline of philosophy. Authors, writers, editors of journals and leaders known for defending points in arguments, for engaging in conflicts or for taking up certain positions that receive great popular scrutiny and/or are minority views engage in what today are essentially forms of secular apologetics.
Naturally in life, we all take positions on all sorts of topics, subjects, religions and philosophies. Often that position is inarticulate and poorly thought out if given any thought at all. With that said, though, the apologetics I engage in here is a never-ending exercise with time out for the necessary and inevitable quotidian tasks of life: eating, sleeping, drinking and a wide range of leisure activities. The apologetics that concerns me is not so much Christian or Islamic apologetics or one of a variety of those secular apologetics I referred to above, but Baha'i apologetics.
There are many points of comparison and contrast between any form of apologetics which I won't go into here. Readers here might like to check out Wikipedia for a birds-eye-view of the subject. Christians and Muslims will have the opportunity to defend their respective religions by the use of apologetics; secular humanists can also argue their cases if they so desire here. I in turn will defend the Baha'i Faith by the use of apologetics. In the process each of us will, hopefully, learn something about our respective Faiths, our religions, our various and our multitudinous positions, some of which we hold to our hearts dearly and some of which are of little interest.
At the outset, then, in this my first posting, my intention is simply to make this start, to state what you might call "my apologetics position." This brief statement indicates, in broad outline, where I am coming from in the weeks and months ahead. -Ron Price with thanks to Udo Schaefer, "Baha'i Apologetics?" Baha'i Studies Review, Vol. 10, 2001/02.