One only needs to look at the fiascos of recent public debates or media interactions to realise that the majority of our 'visible figures' on the scene are not competent to discuss the philosophical and theological issues with atheists/secularists/humanists.
There is no apologetic foothold in this country.
The days of the Catholic Evidence Guild have gone
...and certainly there's a glimmer of hope in Maryvale's Masters course in Apologetics
But in this country we are simply not competent:
Let's face it the majority of atheists are far from intellectually informed [ a little visit to a London/westminster sceptics meeting will reveal that!] - they usually resort to the same few mantras and arguments which they think vindicate their position and are unassuageably proven.
There are generic soundbites against the five ways
Hyperbolic ridicule of scripture to imply falsiehood by association - misrepresentation of christianity as fundamentalist and biblically literalist - lastthursdayist anti-evolutionist luddite and just simply devoid of academic procedurality [everything Biblical's been disproven donchanow?]
There's appeal to the scientific method and a highly dodgy reinterpretation of Popper's falsifiability.
Pascal's wager's now designated a fallacy
..and dawkinsiate 'highly unlikely' and 'verging on the ridiculous' and 'utterly absurd' are distorted into conclusions based on logic and reason rather than bigotted doxic opinion.
They win by repetition, supposition and the firm resolution that they have every argument trounced - even when they haven't actually addressed the issue - they have a sophistic 'put-down' to divert or mislead or obfuscate...
..but who do we have arguing against them in a quasi-official manner?
Uninformed, untrained, inexperienced mediocrities who cannot even deal with uneducated bombastic anti-theists - let alone the intellectual arguments of classical atheism.
And where are our intellectual giants?
Who could do something to counter this farce?
Certainly not in this arena...
Yes 'come and see' intiatives at St Pat's Soho & elsewhere are excellent ideas but let's not hoodwink ourselves into thinking this is actual evangelisation - it's pre-evangelisation
..and the terrifying trend of recent 'conversion stories' where the new convert spends a long time saying how inviting and welcoming and communal and reasonable these Catholics were so they felt compelled to be one among them?
Without a single mention of them believing Catholicism to be true?
I'm afraid we need Catholic Evangelisation - NOT Evangelical 'catholicism' where Christ is not very apparent on the Cross...
It's one of the main reasons I have grave concerns over Fr Robert Barron's 'Word on Fire' - it's how group-huggy we are - how nice we are - how nice and heroic our saints were [interspersed with a lot of name-dropping and sounbites] - and you can belong to a group to which these great people belonged too!!??
The apologetic - the agreement and resolution - the repentance - the acceptance and confession of faith - the actual conversion - that's what's missing!!!
But when it comes to Atheists
We need to respect them - enough to oppose that for which they stand - to argue against and refute their positions.
Intellectual sincerity and authenticity - then natural friendship and affability may follow.
But what's really happened on the 'scene' is the reverse - it's become a hijacking of the debates by sides who wish to perform a sophistry stage-show to grandstand to their crowds of adoring fans.
And what's grown out of this is a sort of 'mutual respect' of stage performances
When rather than any real friendship and respect for the sincerity behind their positions - there's an underlying contempt for the person - but a respect for their rhetorical technique.
So what it inevitably leads to is each side trying to be a nice as ninepence outside the issues but the moment the 'debate' is on they turn into pseudo-intellectual who act out what's tantamount to a pretty dire portrayal as a prosecuting barrister in a dodgy repertory stage-play. Self-perpetuating linguistic slapstick.
It reminds me of the 'glory days' of the 3rd French republic where opposing sides of the assembly weren't adversaries but posturing stage-antagonists
Ever heard of Saul Alinsky? And his method of gaining control over the political scene?
Be the puppetmaster of both sides - have the same types of people wearing differently coloured masks.
That is happening here!! Both sides will sew up the debating scenes as 'ever-discussing but never learning' [St Paul] entities as elitist franchises...and the book deals, newspaper articles and media guest-spots continue unabated.
This is why we have Catholic Voices [incidentally they're up to their progressivistic revisionistic best again] mantras like 'more light - less heat'
[to which Chesterton responds :
The one created thing which we cannot look at is the one thing in
the light of which we look at everything. Like the sun at noonday,
mysticism explains everything else by the blaze of its own
victorious invisibility. Detached intellectualism is (in the
exact sense of a popular phrase) all moonshine; for it is light
without heat, and it is secondary light, reflected from a dead world. ]
...and winning hearts and minds rather than arguments?
[you mean we become scientologist hoodwinkers who convince the vulnerable that they need to belong?]
...and 'positive reframing'
[the recourse to euphemism and politically correct NuSpeak for 'sensitive dialogue']
Austen Ivereigh 'wrote' a book on 'How to defend the faith without raising your voice'
aka 'how to keep your job as a Catholic media commentator without really saying anything'
We need to keep these people away from atheists otherwise they'll just think we're all insincere, inauthentic hypocrites who believe nothing, stand for nothing and will fight for nothing except our comfy seat in the front row....