“For every problem, there is a solution that is simple, neat, and wrong.”
H. L. Mencken
This quote captures my objections to much of Catholic apologetics.
Since bloggers choose what to write about, we are basically free to choose our own antagonists. Which means we're also free to choose not to have antagonists. So why do we choose to have antagonists?
There are several deep responses to his question in his comments box that I cannot match. My down to earth response is that it is good to exchange ideas and identify disagreements when it’s done in a “disputations” style. I can always learn a lot from different viewpoints. That’s why I read blogs whose point of view is different from my own. In that sense, “antagonism” can be a virtue.
However, “antagonism” can be carried to extremes by judgmentalism, name calling and unjustified righteousness.
I pick so many ways to judge. Often I am scandalized, stunned, shocked, and secretly gratified that I have found a way to be more pious, more Godly, and more Christian than my neighbors. In the non-religious realm I do the same, but the qualities that I am improving in myself are somewhat different. It is good that I am more refined, more intelligent, more cultivated, more honest, more loving, more whatever.”
I find that I use myself as the measure of all things and what a poor measure it is! But woe be unto you if I perceive you do not reach my exalted heights and standards.
Although he phrases this accusation in the first person he is one of the least likely Catholic bloggers to be guilty of this charge (except possibly me!).
I think this is because, like Disputations, he asks the question and considers the possibility that he may be wrong. It’s probably natural that we think what we do is important, and that those subject about what we are knowledgeable are “important” subjects.
There is a natural tendency though, that we extrapolate the above into thinking that we know it all about our own areas of expertise and our areas of expertise are the only worthwhile areas of study.
When applied to theology, this leads to disasters like this.
There are many, many thousands of biologists who have studied long and hard and are truly experts on the subject in question. Fortunately, some are Catholics who can set the apologist straight.
But harm is done. Even in the area of theology, apologetics scriptural exegesis, I think that most conclusions must be tentatitve. There is always the possibility that there is a mistake in the text, bad translation, if nothing else. Next, there is the possibility that the text is misunderstood. Nevertheless, a lot of people confuse their understanding of a Church teaching with the correct understanding or mistake it as the only correct understanding. Seldom is this justified.