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Inquirists vs Apologetics: An argument no one can ever win.

Updated on October 3, 2011


Apologetics the discipline of defending a position (often religious) through the systematic use of reason. The reason however is limited in that it does not allow bastardization of the foundations of religious text, even when they clearly are contentious. The difference between an argument from an inquiry point of view is that it offers unlimited questioning and searches for truth without qualification. An apologetic limits questioning of their beliefs and simply offers the defense of a committed belief. Religion is one of the areas where this is most evident. Belief in justification of an angry, malicious God in the Old Testament vs a loving God as seen through the eyes of Jesus, come from two different schools of thought.

Both inquiry and apologetics are practices and are not limited to a defined method. What differentiates their position is their ends: inquiry searching for truth without qualification and apologetics defending a committed belief based on faith alone. Many apologetics would contend that none of the Bible is "wrong" because if a part of it was wrong, other parts could be wrong and nothing can be questioned in their eye, only defended.

After reading and learning about these two very different argumentative stances, I felt as though my whole world had been explained. Contention from the Christian Right, political clashes, and even the judicial system have been brought into full clarity with this very focused explanation.

Red State/ Blue State

George Lakoff, author of: Moral Politics: How Liberals and Conservatives Think, explains part of the reason we are so polarized in our worldviews in the American political scene. Lakoff states that we need to recognize that the human mind works in metaphors: Life is a struggle; business is a game; time is money - stuff like that. The mind casts every abstract idea in terms of more immediate experiences. Struggles, games, and money, in turn, have their own metaphoric interpretations, and (to make a long story short) it’s turtles all the way down. He contends that it is very difficult to state a simple principle that separates liberal positions from conservative positions. And even if it could be done, most of the other liberals and conservatives seem to figure it out, and so it must be unconscious for the vast majority of people!

There is much more than this to discern, but it does indicate that at the heart of our arguments we have a propensity to unconsciously talk past each other, not to each other...

Judicial System

It seems that an example of the judicial system might explain the difference in the style of argument.A lawyer who is fighting for his or her client is incumbent to affect an apologetics demeanor in order to defend him/her in court. They must believe in the innocence of the client and not build up any questioned stance. The District Attorney is more involved in inquiry, and proving by unlimited questioning that the client is either guilty or innocent. Because they use the same "tools", they are considered to be coming from the same reference point, although clearly we know one is looking to maintain the innocence of the client and the other is trying to question the innocence.

How the two styles of the arguments butt heads with each other because the two argument styles are incompatible!They have distinct rules, coming from diametrically opposing stances.The stance of inquiry can accept a new thought with an open mind, whereby an apologetic cannot not accept anything other than what they believe in from their beliefs! Nothing in an inquiry argument would be allowed to stand against what apologetics are committed to defending. Why try?


While it has been difficult trying to argue against people who are rigid in their mindsets and victims of black and white thinking, it appears to be an answer to the question of why people cannot seem to come to some kind of consensus without animosity. As an person who finds life to be one of inquiry, arguing with an apologetic has been a thorn in my side. while being open to the ideas of another, I am not a blind follower and do not wish to argue about ones preordained faith. There can be no meeting of minds in these two styles of argument because of the virtue of the differences in mindsets. This makes life a it easier to understand, even if it is still a tough pill to swallow.


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    • barbergirl28 profile image

      Stacy Harris 

      7 years ago from Hemet, Ca

      Interesting take. I am not generally a person that likes to argue, however, I do like to explore all options. This of course applies in all areas of life, whether it is political, religious or what not.

    • Aley Martin profile imageAUTHOR

      Alice Lee Martin 

      7 years ago from Sumner, Washington,USA

      thanks Acer..clearly you are a man of inquiry! I love that!

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      7 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      What I have a hard time with religious fundamentalists is that they have no leeway for a large number people who have a rational relationship with divinity...I agree Aley.

    • profile image

      Aley Martin 

      7 years ago

      Congrats on your book! I will check it out!

      Thanks for posting, it is hard to see these resistances until we know how they are constructed the way they are!

    • Jean Bakula profile image

      Jean Bakula 

      7 years ago from New Jersey

      Hi Aley,

      This is an interesting topic. I never remember such political or religious difference at any other time in my life. I don't get why people can't just agree to disagree. I hoped when Bush got out of office, the political scene would calm down, but Obama makes conservatives insane. I had a Jehovah's Witness that I met while nursing a sick friend, and she was determined to recruit me. I just couldn't get past--what I know now--her apologetics view of everything she didn't memorize from her Watchtower. I finally publised my book on the Rider-Waite, I have a link on my profile. I needed some marketing help, but it was an interesting process, still ongoing, but the book can be ordered if you choose. Take care.


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