Christian Living

Apologetic Arguments Can Reshape What Our Culture Considers Plausible

Author Amy K. Hall Published on 07/19/2014

In a post at the Gospel Coalition on “Apologetics and the Role of Plausibility Structures,” Joe Carter explains that even when the current set of beliefs held by atheists prevent them from seeing any argument for God’s existence as plausible (no matter how reasonable), those arguments still have an effect on our culture:

Everything that we believe is filtered through our plausibility structures—belief-forming apparatus that acts as a gatekeeper, letting in evidence that is matched against what we already consider to be possible. Plausibility structures filter out claims that we believe cannot be reasonable or potentially true...

Oddly enough, while atheism is a minority view and has been so throughout the history of the world, it is assumed that pluralism requires that we adopt it as the default plausibility structure for almost all areas of human culture. Everything from science and education to politics and public policy is assumed to begin with the assumption that either God does not exist or that his existence is irrelevant. This idea that soft atheism is the neutral ground from which all sectarian matters must be addressed is patently absurd. Not only does this claim fail to recognize that atheism is not religiously neutral, it fails to acknowledge that atheism is quite implausible.

It is this implausibility that needs to be continuously pointed out and brought into the open. Apologetic arguments for the existence of God aid in this effort by pointing out that the belief in God’s existence is more probable, more plausible, more reasonable, and more rational than its denial. We should be lovingly generous to individuals who adhere to skepticism or atheism. But when these mystical and improbable beliefs are brought to the public square they should receive the utmost scrutiny and a forceful presentation of their irrationality...

Whether [apologetic arguments] are directly useful in leading unbelievers to Christ, they can be indirectly useful in reshaping the plausibility structures of our culture.

Read the rest of his post.