In an earlier post I discussed some of the plans that I had in mind for my anticipated book project, which will be inspired by this blog. Since writing that post, however, I have decided to take the book in a new direction (there may be more posts like this down the road, depending on how things unfold). So, here is the new idea that I have in mind.
In the last post, I talked about writing a book titled Counter Apologetics: An Introduction, which would be designed as a guide to connect people with secular scientists, philosophers, and historians, who hold to non-apologetic (and usually far more mainstream) scholarly positions on issues of cosmology, epistemology, ethics, the historical reliability of the Bible, and Christian origins.
Such a book, I still think, is highly needed. Very often, when religious apologists target people with arguments, they shoot out of a shotgun of points relating to a wide range of issues. Apologists can always fill in the gaps with “goddidit,” whenever they stump someone on an arcane question (whether it be explaining the origins of the Big Bang, the basis of normative ethics, or why the resurrection belief emerged after Jesus’ death), but getting serious academic answers is usually far more difficult, especially when they pertain to such a wide range of academic disciplines. That is why a book that connected people with Sean Carroll, for example, on issues of cosmology, Shelly Kagan on issues of ethics, and Bart Ehrman on issues of Christian origins, would be very helpful. You can seldom find a secular resource that addresses all of these issues at once, and instead one has to consult multiple resources to “run the gauntlet” of questions that apologists will often target people with.
That said, I also think that the scope of such a book would be rather broad, and it is a rather large project to commit to while I am still completing my PhD program. I still think that it would be a good book for me to write down the line, but it’s probably not the best project to begin as my first book. As such, I am going to put Counter Apologetics: An Introduction on hold, and revisit the idea when it fits better into my career plans.
Instead, I think that my first book should focus primarily on historical apologetics, and debunking the attempts of Christian apologists to justify their religion on the basis of “historical evidence.” As a Classicist, who studies the 1st century CE, this subject area would be more directly related to my current graduate research. I also think that it is especially helpful to counter historical apologetics from a Classical perspective, since my graduate research involves not only studying the historical Jesus, the New Testament, and Christian origins, but also other historical figures, literary texts, and religions from the same time period. Through this lense, I have especially been able to identify many of the inaccuracies, misrepresentations of scholarly consensus, and special pleading that underlie most historical apologetic arguments, as I have been writing on this blog over the last three years.
Since I am going to readjust the scope of the book, I am going to have to write up a new draft ‘table of contents,’ when I find the time. I’ll also need to think of a new tentative title. Feel free in the meantime to propose any topics or issues in the comments below that you would be interested in having me cover in the book. The scope of the book will deal primarily with the historical apologetics, so try to keep suggestions within that scope.
My anticipated timeline for completing the book is still 2015-2018, so this will be a long-term project that I will be balancing over the next years with my graduate work. I’ll post updates as progress is made.