Apologists: Selling Jesus to Their Target Demographics
Once in a Blue Moon, you read a forum site like this one where someone who was formerly an atheist decides to covert to Christianity. Far be it from me to cast dispersions on a person's life choices, usually I stay away from posts like that, save for a few peripheral comments. I don't care for debates as I have no agenda to try to change people, its of no concern to me what a person believes, it seldom has influenced my opinion of a person, AS a person one way or the other. The person who changes their mind on faith or non faith has no doubt spent some considerable time mulling over points and counterpoints in their mind, while contemplating their personal lives and feelings. This is the Christian apologist's "target demographic" (or what marketing experts more accurately call "psychographic", meaning the segment of populace that is determined by their personal convictions, values and beliefs). Timing is critical for them, for they want to be there during the time the person is still undecided, for one emotional point the other way and the game is lost. This is how it works in political advertising as well. Republican campaigners know its a waste of time to try to win over die hard Obama supporters, so they research and go after undecided "fence sitters". Ditto for Democrats.
Apologists are a different breed from the general clergy or layman. They're usually well versed on the various degrees of atheism, well read on outspoken atheists and they differ from the hard line preachy types who quote scriptures and warn of hellfire. Let's be honest here, Christians want to win converts, that's how they keep the faith alive and many of them are motivated by a belief in everlasting punishment for non believers. Apologists are generally smart enough to know that hard line atheists will more than likely remain such, I've even read stats from ministry sites showing probability percentages of conversions from various age and background demographics.
This explains why they're so argumentative and insist that they engage in debates based on professional debate standards, its their craft, their line of work, not unlike lawyers. Every intelligent and sane theist knows that a supernatural event such as what is written in the OT is not likely to happen no matter how much they pray and wish they were Elijah confronting the Prophets of Baal, so they know they have to resort to two methods of distraction. Try to armchair psychoanalyze anyone who engages them and steer the conversation to their own turf, i.e. philosophy, metaphysics and psychology. Nothing wrong with those disciplines,hell, I like to peruse them myself once in awhile, but my passions lie elsewhere. To each his own. What their hope is, is that an undecided reader, the "target psychographic" will read the points and counterpoints and make their decisions based on how intelligent they sound when they're quoting from their seminary textbooks. Atheists and former atheists are usually logical and analytical types and aren't usually swayed by preaching, so the apologist's hope is that they will be drawn by a logical sounding counterpoint to religious skepticism.
I have now met three online apologists. The first time I met one, and it was also the first time I had read the term "apologist" (brings up strange mental visions of a bunch of people in a room saying, "I'm sorry...", was on a now defunct forum for Satanists. I was researching a documentary and looking for on camera subjects in my area, and this fellow was writing his thesis on Satanism. He was a nice guy and non argumentative, so I read his thesis and today we still chat from time to time. The next was Metacrock, who impresses me as a guy who loves a "good fight" and is itching to debate anyone whom he sees as a threat to the faith. But by and large an OK guy. Then I met this guy on Rational Responders who shows up once in awhile to play armchair psychologist and goes all out like an attack dog to rip into anything that he sees as anti Christian. A rabid YEC fundamentalist, but somewhat entertaining as he draws such heat from the rest of the posters. He uses the hit and run method and seldom goes back to the same thread more than once or twice. His strategy seems to be , "See how smart I am? I can insult people and spout psychophilotheosphy babble at the same time. Be impressed and convert".
I'm onto it and I'm not playing the game. You can't BS a fellow BS'er. I've worked too long in media not to recognize another form of advertisement mind games. I've also found that the older I get, the less I want to fight and debate people. I officially retired from TV news to pursue my first love which is film as I just got sick of the pressure and drama and like I said, I'm not out to de-convert anyone. I like the differences in humanity, it makes things interesting and gives me fodder for future film subjects.
So carry on apologists, I'll see you in the media.
"Science flies you to the moon. Religion flies you into buildings."