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Meet the Press: More about the MAP

Updated: Aug 21, 2023

Our two forthcoming books on Disney and Apologetics are published through the Moral Apologetics Press. As this is a fairly new press, specializing in moral apologetics, some readers may wish to know more about the press in particular and moral apologetics in general.



APOLOGETICS

Apologetics means to give a defense. Thus, Plato's dialogue recounting the trial of Socrates (that is, Socrates's defense against the charge that he was acting impiously and corrupting the youth of Athens) is called The Apology. So too, Peter encouraged Christians to be ready (and able), at any given moment, to give a defense (reason) for the hope that one has in Jesus Christ. (1 Peter 3:15). Some may prefer to appeal to a more direct experience, offering a more personalized testimony, and this is satisfactory for some. For others, however, the appeal to felt experience is not enough to ground reason; they may, understandably, want answers, reasons, or a more thoughtful line of reasoning. Appealing to feeling is rarely enough to win over one who is truly seeking wisdom. This is where apologetics comes in.


As an academic discipline, Christian apologetics may involve an unpacking and analysis of the philosophical foundations for the Christian worldview. As a practical discipline, an application of one's thoughtful biblical, philosophical, and theological study, apologetics may involve debate over various counterpoint perspectives (philosophical, theological, biblical, historical, textual, ethical, etc.). It may involve teaching arguments and/or evidences from the cumulative case for Christianity, or it may take the form of a dialogue wherein two or more parties simply discuss the strengths of the Christian story of reality and the extent to which the most robust view of reality requires a theistic lens.



MORAL APOLOGETICS

Moral apologetics is a powerful sub-field of apologetics specializing in the intersection of personal experience and rational intuition. Although it emphasizes the objectivity of and grounding for morality, its emphasis on the significance of Truth, Goodness, and Beauty--the longstanding concern of pre-modern philosophy--lies at the heart of classical education and may be of particular interest to many who are drawn to the philosophy of aesthetics. Because aesthetics and ethics are subsets of axiology--the study of value--there is much overlap between moral arguments, including arguments from evil to the existence of God, and arguments from experience (beauty, desire, teleology, etc.). Moral arguments are among the most powerful precisely because they appeal to reason while tethering themselves to undeniable aspects of our own lived experiences--like the fact that we believe some things are wrong or unjust.


Perhaps the most popular examples of moral apologetics can be seen in the writings of C. S. Lewis. To paraphrase one of the most quoted lines from his Mere Christianity, to understand the meaning of a statement about a crooked line, one must first understand what "crookedness" means, and what is meant by crookedness is that a line is not as it ought to be, according to a standard--i.e. straightness. Thus, one cannot understand what a crooked line is unless one first has some sense of what straightness means. Similarly, Lewis reflects on times past when he had thought that God, if he existed, must be cruel or unjust to allow such evil to exist as that which we find in the world. It finally occurred to him that he was presupposing a standard of goodness by which to call its absence "wrong" or "unjust." He wrote,


"My argument against God was that the universe seemed so cruel and unjust. But how had I got this idea of just and unjust? .... In the very act of trying to prove that God did not exist - in other words, that the whole of reality was senseless - I found I was forced to assume that one part of reality - namely my idea of justice - was full of sense. If the whole universe has no meaning, we should never have found out that it has no meaning: just as, if there were no light in the universe and therefore no creatures with eyes, we should never have known it was dark. Dark would be without meaning.”[1]


This is one form, and a powerful one at that, of a moral argument for God's existence and also his goodness. Without going into that deep conversation here, the point is that Lewis, writing at the popular level, demonstrates well the power of a moral argument.


Lewis also exemplifies the potency of an argument from Beauty and Desire. Throughout his life, he was deeply interested in pondering the profundity of certain moments of aesthetic experience which evoked a deep, inexpressible longing (Sehnsucht) for a direct encounter with the Beautiful. After considering this for some time--and the power of aesthetics had a role to play in his conversion--he argued, “If I find in myself a desire which no experience in this world can satisfy, the most probable explanation is that I was made for another world.”[2]

Arguments from moral and aesthetic experience possess a unique powerful in that they appeal to head but dig into the heart. On a side note, Lewis's approach influenced much of my own approach to these works on Disney and apologetics.



MORAL APOLOGETICS PRESS

Moral Apologetics Press has for its primary purpose the publication of books that advance the mission of the Center for Moral Apologetics [formerly the Center for the Foundations of Ethics] at Houston Christian University. This mission has six crucial ingredients: (1) defending theistic ethics against various objections and offering positive evidential reasons in its favor; (2) critiquing secular ethical theories and demonstrating their relative inadequacy in accounting for the full range of moral phenomena in need of explanation; (3) defending moral realism on which the enterprise of moral apologetics is predicated; (4) extending the moral argument to a positive moral case for Christianity in particular; (5) highlighting the rich and fertile history of the moral argument; and (6) encouraging dialogue with non-Christian religious approaches by comparing and contrasting their ethical foundations with those from the Judeo-Christian tradition.




[1] See C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001), 38.


[2] C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity (San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001), 136-7.






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